exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

even more on why rape doesn’t matter

by Jen at 8:15 pm on 21.04.2009Comments Off
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle, londonlife

boris johnson, the buffoon mayor of london, made a campaign pledge to fund four rape crisis centres around the city – a resource sorely needed in a city where reported rapes increased by 14% last year alone, yet only 6% of all rapes result in a conviction.  just a year ago he said:

I have made it a key Manifesto pledge that I will use GLA funding to substantially increase financial support to the charity sector working with the victims.   There is currently only one Rape Crisis Centre in London – located in Zone 5.  I will provide the funding for four new Rape Crisis Centres in London, paid for by reducing spending on the Mayor’s personal press officer budget.

today he reneged on that pledge.

in related news, the cab driver who was convicted of a dozen serial rapes over 18 months, (and suspected of attacking up to 85 people back as far as 2002), was sentenced to at least 8 years today.  he went unapprehended for so long in part because the sex crimes unit of the metropolitan police was understaffed and in disarray.

yet boris outlined a new domestic violence strategy in which he says:

For any plan to work we must have the police, local authorities, community organisations, health sector and criminal justice system all working together across borough boundaries. We also need to get tougher. Tougher on the perpetrators of violence, who currently enjoy a ridiculous level of immunity, and tougher on the attitudes that condone violence against women.

no kidding boris.  tell me when you’re willing to get serious about it, instead of just paying lipservice. actions speak louder than words.

women in london deserve better.

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more on why rape doesn’t matter

by Jen at 7:19 pm on 13.08.2008 | 2 Comments
filed under: rant and rage

more on how reprehensibly the victims of rape in the u.k. are treated:

apparently rape victims who were drinking when they were violated don’t deserve as much compensation as sober rape victims. twenty five percent less, in fact. by that logic, i wonder if that same judge would agree that rape perpetrators who were drinking don’t deserve as much jail time? should they get 25% off their sentence? it’s a shameful farce that even when a rape victim manages to successfully prosecute her rapist (a shockingly rare occurrence in these parts), she’s still somehow blamed and shamed for being a victim of violence. it’s a nauseating mentality that makes only-too-clear how prejudiced the judicial system is on this crime.

and for men, rape is a matter worthy of ridicule. as the rag the “daily mail” reports it, a man being kidnapped and raped is just part of a “saucy” and “titillating” tale. saying things such as:

Fearing he would be kept prisoner for weeks (later there would be a body of male opinion which felt pangs of severe jealousy at his plight)…

they clearly imply that sexual abuse isn’t *really* abuse, because, hey – what man doesn’t love sex (forced or not)? never mind he was held against his will at gunpoint… he must’ve enjoyed it.

time and time again, stories like these demonstrate how rape victims are dismissed and demeaned in this country. rape is just not taken seriously. it’s truly shameful, and until this mentality is addressed, victims of rape will continue to find themselves abused not once, but twice over.


yet more on why rape doesn’t matter

by Jen at 7:20 am on 12.11.2007Comments Off
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle, rant and rage

david cameron, leader of the conservative party, will call for tougher rape laws.

i’ve written about the sickening rape statistics in this country here before:

– About 80% of rapes are never reported
– One-third those reported are not recorded by the police
– Only one fifth of those recorded reaches trial
– Only half those tried result in conviction

The bbc is reporting that he will say too many rapists believe “they can get away with it”.

gee, i wonder what would give them that impression?

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more on why rape doesn’t matter

by Jen at 10:26 pm on 12.02.2007 | 1 Comment
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle

i wrote the other day about how rape is not taken seriously in the u.k.

this just underlines the point – the bbc, no less

The BBC has been accused of “trivialising rape” with its new show The Verdict, in which a jury of C-list celebrities decides the outcome of a mock trial.

The fictional rape case involves a 19-year-old waitress who claims she was subjected to a degrading sex attack by a footballer and his friend. All are played by actors.

Professor Liz Kelly, campaign chairwoman, said: “The Verdict is guilty of trivialising rape. This is reality television that misses much of the reality of rape – for example, the fact that most women are raped by someone they know.

“With rape rarely dealt with at any length by broadcasters, The Verdict is a missed opportunity to show the facts on rape. The bleak truth about rape is that little support or justice exists for women in this country.”

because rape is always a surefire ratings winner.


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why rape doesn’t matter

by Jen at 9:59 pm on 31.01.2007 | 3 Comments
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle

there’s still a lot about the u.k. that is inherently sexist. some of it is more overt (the topless photos inside the “newspapers”) and some of it is more subtle (the use of the endearment “love” in a pejorative and belittling way). margaret thatcher notwithstanding, there are still a lot of obvious inequalities and insidious patriarchal attitudes that pervade the culture. i was quite struck by it when i first arrived, and i am sad to say, it has since faded into background noise. because, well, i live here – and you just can’t spend all day every day in a black cloud of righteous indignation.

one thing that never fails to raise my hackles, however, is the topic of rape. rape is an appalling topic no matter what the circumstances, but rape in the u.k. is truly horrific because only 5% of reported rape cases end in a conviction. that’s a number which has, in fact, been falling since 1977. of the cases that go to trial, one of every two ends in acquittal. in other words, a victim who manages to make it to trial has only a 50/50 crapshoot of getting to see her attacker put behind bars.

and reading the reports, it’s not hard to understand why. in news item after news item, there’s just no sense that anyone in the justice system takes rape seriously. there’s a lot of talk about the number of false accusations, the difficulties of determining consent if someone’s been binge drinking, and passing the buck blame-gaming. all we hear is how hard it is to determine what happened when the two parties know each other. attempts at judicial reforms have been dismissed by judges, police incorrectly record allegations as “no crimes”, and more than a third of dropped cases have should have been pursued. but perhaps the most telling indicator of how rape is viewed and prosecuted in the u.k. is that women are still often questioned about their sexual history as part of the trial.

all of those elements combine to form a pretty clear picture: rape just doesn’t matter much. and given that most rape victims are women, it implies that women just don’t matter much. which is why it is estimated 9 of 10 cases are never reported. the response to the most recent reports are feeble at best. there is no outrage, no shock – instead people say there shouldn’t be artificial targets for conviction. they trot out the old stereotype of a woman who only cries “rape” the morning after in a haze of regret. they say that a trial ending in a verdict of “innocent” is just as successful as a trial ending in a verdict of “guilty”.

what it boils down to is more of the same old shit. when rapists are free to walk the streets, they are free to rape again, creating more victims who don’t come forward or have ineffectual trial cases, further solidifying the wall of silence and making even more women vulnerable. and in a culture where victims of rape are blamed and disbelieved, why should any woman want to put herself through even more trauma when the chances of justice are so low, and the chances of humiliation so high? for victims of sexual assault, there truly is no justice. and while i can tune out the page 3 titties staring out at me from the papers every morning and i can tune out the men with a disparaging sneer in their voice, i simply cannot tune out the horror of living in a country where rapists get away with it – over and over again.

(while i have referred only to female victims of rape here, that’s not in any way to dismiss the plight of male victims of rape – simply that the overwhelming numbers are women)