Anonymity for accused in rape trials serves only to protect rapists
Giving suspects anonymity in crimes of rape and other forms of sexualised violence is antithetical to a victim-centred justice system. There is no legal or ethical defence that justifies anonymity for suspects in rape cases and every evidence that anonymity serves only to protect rapists from the criminal justice system. You only have to examine the cases of John Worbuys and Jimmy Savile to understand how power, privilege and anonymity protects suspects.
Sexual violence is the only crime where sympathy is with the perpetrator rather than the victim. It is the only crime where decisions and recommendations about the criminal justice response is based entirely on fallacious assumptions, myths and victim blaming. Anonymity for suspects in cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence is a dangerous precedent that puts women, children and men at risk.
Giving anonymity to sexual crime suspects won't bring justice by Laura Bates (@EverydaySexism)
A group of high-profile men, including singer Sir Cliff Richard and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, have launched a campaign to change the law so that people accused of sex crimes would not be named unless they are charged. It is impossible to discuss such a campaign without setting it in the wider context of misconceptions about sexual violence and those who report it; misconceptions that have been particularly widely aired in the aftermath of the recent Ched Evans not-guilty verdict, which saw many make similar calls for anonymity on social media.
Entwined with such demands is the public perception that false rape allegations are common. While there are some allegations which prove false, there are misconceptions about the extent of them. There are widespread stereotypes: of “promiscuous” women who regret sexual activity and “cry rape”, or vindictive women who set out to ruin men’s lives with false accusations, either for money or revenge. Whether intentionally or not, any conversation about anonymity in the judicial process raises the spectre of these figures. In the wake of the Evans verdict, they could clearly be seen in tweets such as: “This confirms that 80% of rape ‘victims’ are just drunk sluts who regret being a whore on a night out,” as well as in the complainant repeatedly being branded a “money-grabbing whore” online.
This betrays a confusion about our legal system: a not-guilty verdict does not mean a complainant lied, but that the alleged offence could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt. ...
A leading coalition of UK women’s organisations who work to end violence against women and girls in all its forms has written an open letter to Cliff Richard, Paul Gambaccini and Nigel Evans MP asking them to re-consider their ‘campaign’ for anonymity for those suspected of sexual offences.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition, which includes member organisations who support survivors of sexual assaults, argues in the letter that our legal system is fundamentally an open one where it is extremely unusual ever to grant a suspect or defendant anonymity. When investigating sexual offences the police need to have discretion over when to name suspects for important investigative reasons. The letter also suggests that those who feel harmed by the current status quo are perhaps looking to the wrong cause, and that actually media behaviour and sensationalism around sexual crimes, and a failure to uphold the presumption of innocence, are the bigger issues.
Dear Cliff, Paul and Nigel,
We write to ask you to reconsider your call for anonymity for those accused of sexual offences in order to show respect for – and prevent significant harm to – both survivors of abuse across the UK, and the UK’s legal process.
We represent many survivor organisations who know all too well the trauma caused by sexual violence and the multiple barriers, both internal and external, that survivors face in coming forward and reporting to the police, facing their abuser in court and reliving their most difficult memories without assurance of justice. ...
Men's Silent Consent Of Rape Culture by Shane Thomas (@tokenbg) via @WritersofColour
... The insulation of patriarchy is something men are clinging to like an infant with a comforter, and nothing is seen as worth giving that up; not even a structure that frames women as pleasurable commodities to be used and disposed of. This is the capitalism in the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy that bell hooks speaks of, where the mindset of collecting sexual encounters mirrors the mindset of acquiring material goods. A zero-sum game where men must not only win, but women must lose.
Retraumatising survivors and absolving assailants illustrates that; “In actual military conflict, war only has to be declared once. But the structural and individual effects of patriarchy work on an ouroboros loop, with a war on women being declared again and again.” Attacking a singular woman will also work to cast aspersions on the entire gender, while this dynamic is inverted for men, who can avoid any collective blame for the actions of an individual male because #NotAllMen.
And all to protect the citadel of patriarchy. It should be noted that misogyny isn’t even considered a hate crime throughout Britain. The Margaret Atwood line about women being afraid men will kill them is as relevant now as when it was first written. You may have noticed I’ve primarily referenced women in this piece. That’s because I’m saying nothing they – including those who identify differently on the gender spectrum – haven’t said first, and often. ...Download this post as PDF? Click here