Rape 101

August 20, 2012 10:39 am

Ooookay. Thanks, the internet. I’d got most of my column written at about half seven last night – wasn’t about much, had a few jokes. And then Twitter informed me that some Missouri Republican Congressman I’d never heard of had been talking about rape and abortion. There’s a sentence that never bodes well for your evening.

It’s tempting to dismiss the stupid things some American politicians say about rape with a simple, heartfelt expression of relief that we don’t live there. However, Akin’s attempt to specify ‘legitimate’ rape is an uncomfortable reminder of Ken Clarke’s ‘classic rape‘ comments of last year. It also blends in well with the comments of some Assange supporters, on Twitter and elsewhere. These include both those whom we might have hoped to hold to a higher standard (oh, former Python Terry Jones. You spent so long dressed as a woman – I’d thought you might have had more sympathy for real ones) and those who sadly fail to surprise us. The opinions of George Galloway (from about 20 minutes in, if you haven’t seen it and you’re in the mood to be enraged) would be far easier to laugh off if we didn’t have to deal with the fact that, like Rep. Akin, the guy’s an elected representative. And unlike Akin, he represents a constituency in this country (even if he hasn’t been there much since he was elected). It looks like it might be time to dust off the ‘Rape 101′ textbooks once again.

1 – Julian Assange is accused of rape. I thought this whole ‘it was only sex without a condom!’ thing was cleared up by now, but I’ve still been seeing tweets to that effect over the weekend. You can read a list of the accusations here, but to summarise: he’s accused of holding a woman down in order to have sex with her, penetrating a woman in her sleep, and having sex without a condom against the woman’s wishes.

I know that doesn’t in any way mean he did it, but suggestions that he’s only wanted under a quirk of the Swedish legal system need to stop.

Besides which, ‘sex without a condom’ is hardly a trivial affair, as this account from the F-Word blog demonstrates. There’s a massive difference between ‘consenting to sex’ and ‘consenting to potential HIV and/or babies’.

2 – with reference to the fact that Assange is accused of raping a woman while she slept: you do not invite sex by being asleep next to someone. If you were walking down a dark street alone, someone might reasonably comment that you could have taken more steps to ensure your safety. They’d be unlikely to claim they assumed you wanted to be stabbed.

If you’re in bed with another person, here’s what you need to do to prevent a rape occurring: don’t rape them.

3 – The fact that a person has done some things you agree with does not make them incapable of rape. Sad but true.

4 – moving on from Assange to Akin, apparently it’s necessary to explain that you can get pregnant by being raped. The idea that the female reproductive system shuts down during rape is far from new, so if you’ve been labouring under this illusion allow me to rob you of it: you’re thinking of ducks. Conception is easier for ducks if it happens during consensual sex, for reasons related to their corkscrew-shaped vaginas and ballistic penises. When it comes to humans, however, a 1996 study found that an estimated 32,101 pregnancies occur as a result of rape every year in the US, and concluded that ‘Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence. As we address the epidemic of unintended pregnancies in the United States, greater attention and effort should be aimed at preventing and identifying unwanted pregnancies that result from sexual victimization.’

5 – there’s no such thing as legitimate rape. When Akin said this, he didn’t mean ‘legitimate’ as in ‘acceptable’. What a relief, right? Until you realise that what he meant by ‘legitimate rape’ was ‘rape I’m prepared to believe happened’. We’re back at Ken Clarke’s notion that rape only happens when a strange man leaps out of the bushes, possibly armed, and forces himself on a woman (the only difference being: Ken never tried to claim that at this point the woman’s cervix slams shut), and that in every other circumstance, rape is a misunderstanding.

In American politics, the definition of rape is important in healthcare as well as in the justice system. Last year, you might remember, Republicans including Akin tried to further limit the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, with a bill which initially specified that abortion would only be funded in cases of ‘forcible’ rape. (‘Forcible’, incidentally, was part of Ken Clarke’s limited definition, too.) That would have ruled out Medicaid assistance for abortions resulting from: statutory rape, drug rape, date rape, rape of women with limited mental capacity, and possibly, given that many states don’t have a legal definition of ‘forcible rape’ (perhaps because it’s, y’know, a tautology), all rapes in those states.

In the end the Republicans bowed to pressure and took the ‘forcible rape’ bit out of the bill. But the concept keeps returning, so prevalently that I’m starting to become seriously concerned about sex education, here as well as in the States. Keep saying it until it sticks: sex without consent is rape. How is that so hard to understand?

  • http://twitter.com/LouMcCudden Louise McCudden

    Well said!

  • Mary


    How is that so hard to understand?

    I know that’s a rhetorical flourish, but it’s I think it’s genuinely difficult for people who don’t think that consent is very important.  The weaker person’s consent isn’t really a real thing to them, so OF COURSE they have to base their definitions of rape on something totally different.  

  • charles.ward

    “We’re back at Ken Clarke’s notion that rape only happens when a strange
    man leaps out of the bushes, possibly armed, and forces himself on a
    woman …”

    I think this borders on libel.  Care to provide some evidence to back up this allegation.

    • John Dore

      If it helps, here is the full transcript of the KC interview.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13444770 

      • charles.ward

         I remember this interview and at no point does Ken Clarke state that rape only occurs under the circumstances that Ms Fletcher-Hackwood describes.  I believe it is a gross misrepresentation of Mr Clarke’s views to say that he doesn’t think rape occurs except when there is violence.

        In the interview you link to he explicitly states circumstances that constitute rape that don’t involve violence.

        • Brumanuensis

          “Serious rape, I don’t think many judges give five years for a forcible rape, the
          tariff is longer than that. And a serious rape where, you know, violence and an
          unwilling woman, the tariff’s much longer than that”

          The only defence I can think of for Ken Clarke here, is that he confused statutory rape and date rape – a pretty extraordinary confusion, but nonetheless possible. Even so, his comments don’t make sense, because statutory rape cases are rarely prosecuted and in most cases the charge would be of unlawful sexual consent, if a court judges that the child is Gillick competent. And that leaves aside the fact that statutory rape is not a trivial matter and is often associated with abuse.

          • charles.ward

             I think in Ken Clarke’s defence he was presented with the “fact” that rapists get an average sentence of 5 years which he knew to be untrue.  When presented with this flat out lie he was understandably flustered and chose his words unwisely.

            Did we ever get an apology from the BBC for this gross deception?

          • Brumanuensis

            Given the figures weren’t published until a week later, it was hardly deception. If Ken Clarke knew, why didn’t he say so?

          • charles.ward

             To quote the article I linked to and you obviously didn’t read:

            “The 2010 criminal justice statistics show that the average sentence for
            rape of a woman was just over 97 months, two months higher than the 2009
            figure”

            Even the previous year’s figure is way above 5 years (one month shy of 8 years).

            “If Ken Clarke knew, why didn’t he say so?”

            He did know that the average sentence was way over 5 years and he said so.  He probably didn’t have the exact figure to hand.

          • Brumanuensis

            I did read it actually.

            First, Derbyshire explained why the 5-year figure was used:

            “I don’t want to labour the point but sentencing guidelines which I have here starting points single offence of rape by a single offender the starting points are 10 years’ custody if the victim is under 13, eight years’ custody if the victim is 13 or over but under 16, and five years’ custody if the victim is 16 or over. So that’s where I got the five years from.”

            So the BBC and Clarke were talking at cross-purposes. Clakre was correct regarding the average sentence length, but that wasn’t what Derbyshire was arguing about. As the BBC noted:

            “And the second thing is, well, he was talking about the length of sentences for rape and he was right to say that the average is eight years imprisonment when someone’s given a custodial sentence but he seemed to suggest that people don’t get short periods of imprisonment for rape, in fact they do. The figures issued by his own department in 2009 show that 5 people were given sentence of 1 year or less. Er, 49 others were given sentences of between 1 to 3 years and 62 sentences of 3 to 4 years, er and there are also a number of people who are not given jail terms for rape including 22 in 2009 who were cautioned”.

            Interestingly, the most common determinate sentence handed down in 2009 for rape was 5-6 years. The second most common was 8-9 and the third, 4-5.

          • charles.ward

            I’m afraid Ms Derbyshire’s excuse doesn’t wash.

            She wasn’t talking about sentencing guidelines she was saying that 5 years was the average sentence that rapists got.  This is clear from the transcript linked to above:

            “Derbyshire: Yes. A rapist gets five years.

            Clarke: Rapists don’t get… rapists get more than that.

            Derbyshire: Hang on a minute. Five years on average, yes they do Mr Clarke, yes they do.”

            From her post-interview justification she clearly picks the sentencing guideline for the least “serious” offence and assumes no aggravating factors and presents that as the average sentence.  When corrected by Ken Clarke on air does she clarify what she meant, no, she accuses Mr Clarke of not knowing what he is talking about.

          • Brumanuensis

            There’s nothing in what Derbyshire says to prove that she wasn’t indeed referring to the starting tariff. It should have been made clearer what she was referring to, but there is no prima facie evidence of dishonesty.

            Least serious?

          • Brumanuensis

            Put another way, how do you know she wasn’t referring to the average tariff?

          • charles.ward

             Simple, she says

            “A rapist gets five years.”[emphasis mine]

            Clearly that is refering to the sentence they recieved.   You can’t “get” a tariff.

            How would you calculate an “average” tariff?  Even if you ignore the aggravating and mitigating factors, 5 years is the lowest starting point for sentencing so the average must be higher.

  • http://twitter.com/cabalamat Philip Hunt

    “If you’re in bed with another person, here’s what you need to do to prevent a rape occurring: don’t rape them.”

    This is good advice.

    Care to give any advice on what to do if you’re a human rights campaigner and you want to prevent the US government disappearing you into its torture gulag, possibly by fabricating a rape allegation against you?

    • Brumanuensis

      Care to give any advice on how to deal with paranoiacs?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

        Care to give any advice on the terminally naive who believe that America doesn’t play games with its compliant poodle states yapping behind?

        • Brumanuensis

          Mike, I have no great love for the Americans’ conduct on the world stage, nor the disgraceful treatment of Bradley Manning. But I’ve yet to see any evidence that the US plans to make an extradition request, nor that it is likely that Sweden would comply with such a request. If these facts change, I will revisit my assessment.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

            I think this is where we differ. I simply don’t believe them – and under the right, Sweden has proved to be even more compliant than we are with regard to US ‘requests’. I think the aim is to get Assange and to lock him away.

            Look at the American’s quite ridiculous over-reaction to the McKinnon case – and Alan Johnson’s shameful kow-towing. I think its high time we distanced ourselves from the Americans. 

          • Bill Lockhart

            What a pantywaist. If it wasn’t for America we’d all be talking German or Russian now.

          • Redshift

            If you’d led Britain during the 1930s, we’d have been part of the axis….

        • JoeDM

           WARNING:  This thread contains nuts.

    • http://twitter.com/johnringer John Ringer

      Occam’s Razor 101:

      If the US wanted to extradite Assange, why not just do it while he’s in England?  

      Why invent a false allegation against him using two “honey trap” agents when you could invent a crime that doesn’t require you to recruit fake ‘witnesses’ or ‘victims’ who can squeal and potentially compromise the whole conspiracy (e.g. tax fraud)? 

      Why use two agents when you could just use one?

      Given how much hoopla there’s been over whether what he’s accused of doing constitutes rape (which, by the way, it does) why not make the details of the case even more horrible, in line with Ken Clarke’s “classic rape”?

      Moreover, why try and get him extradited to Sweden, of all places, which, last I checked, is far less of a US lapdog than the UK? 

      If it’s just about executing him for treason, why go through the trouble of a kangaroo court when they could just, y’know, kill him. Make it look like suicide or an accident! You’re assuming the US has some pretty spooky abilities, so why can’t they just kill him and cover it up?

      If they desperately need him to face trial in the US, as I mentioned above they could just extradite him for espionage or whatever. Or invent some false criminal charges (rape, tax fraud, collaborating with terrorists…etc) that would get him extradited to the US, rather than to Sweden, and then arrest him for treason when he hits US soil?

      Or if it’s about getting him arrested, whatever the cost, why not invent charges in England?

      I mean, my brain feels exhausted just thinking about the amazing mental gymnastics you conspiracy theorists have to perform.

  • ThePurpleBooker

    Everyone is moaning about Clarke but not Galloway. Ken Clarke, to his defence is a senile man who confused what he was saying and then apologised after we rightly put pressure on him. Galloway has just made an evil outburst of sexism. Respect is a party that deserves no respect from anyone and it is great shame that Class is being funded by the PCS a union that is affiliated with Respect. Not only that but Labour Left have been calling for Respect and Salma Yaqoob to join (or re-join) Labour and some in Labour Left have been backing Respect candidates, for eg. in Manchester Central. It’s also shameful that we have an MP who chairs PCS parliamentary group, the union that backs Galloway and wants Progress out. I think judging by these comments it is not only a relief that Blair expelled this despicable human being from the party but now Respect should follow in Blair’s example or those with any sort of cross-party affiliation through the PCS  or other groups should disaffiliate or be disciplined by the party. Caroline Lucas, a great feminist, also happens to be a great ally of Galloway’s, the Greens should distance themselves too or their feminist voters in Brighton Pavillion will be kept well aware.

    • Brumanuensis

      It was not an endorsement and the article was withdrawn by Labour Left to avoid giving that impression ( http://www.leftfutures.org/2012/08/left-futures-and-the-manchester-central-by-election-an-apology/comment-page-1/ ).

      Salma Yaqoob is fine local councillor who has expressd admiration for Ed Miliband. I don’t care much for George Galloway or Respect as a whole, but I would be very happy to have her back in the Party.

      I do not think Ken Clarke is senile either.

      • ThePurpleBooker

        Jesus wept! LabourLeft called for Salma Yaqoob to rejoin the party, it was an endorsement and was probably removed because of complaints from within the party.
        Salma Yaqoob is not a councillor. I don’t care if she’s expressed admiration for Ed Miliband. I admire Michael Heseltine but I am anti-Tory and anti-euro, Ed Miliband has expressed admiration for Thatcher, but that does not mean he is a Thatcherite – admiration does not equal agreement, you utter nincompoop! That argument is the lamest argument that you an ever make. She is the leader of Respect and a key ally of George Galloway’s, she is one of THEM – don’t you get it?! Again, you are completely wrong. Not even people on the soft left, like Frank Dobson (and Tony Banks if he was here today, God bless his soul) would be utterly outraged at the prospect of these people infiltrating their way in the party. I know you have little no sense whatsoever but I urge you to please shut up! You have made me and other members absolutely furious!
        Ken Clarke is senile.

        • Brumanuensis

          Yes, Salma Yaqoob had to step down for health reasons. She was a good councillor by all accounts though and highly-regarded locally. She has stated that “I consider myself part of the Labour movement; I consider myself a genuine friend of Labour,” she says. In a lot of her explanation of this, there’s the implied prospect of her joining Labour at some future date if it somehow returns to the righteous leftwing path, and rethinks two big areas of policy. “Stop being austerity lite,” she advises them. “And on foreign policy, get the troops home, and stop this rhetoric about more wars in Middle East. It’s not difficult.”. So I’d be happy to have her back in the Party. And I think Frank Dobson is nearer to her than he is to you, given he opposed Iraq, Trident renewal, foundation hospitals and tuition fees.

           Labour Left did not endorse Kate Hudson and explicitly endorse Lucy Powell. How much clearer can they get?

          These other members you speak of. Are they people like ‘Brendan Howell’, who only shows up – purely coincidentally – when you write something. Oh yes, I’m the one in the wrong here. Not the nasty little boy who accuses other members of being ‘pedophiles’ [sic] or who accuses a duly-selected candidated of being a ” jumped-up, ageist, rude and old community lady” (oh the irony) and then suggests deliberately throwing a by-election to get his preferred candidate selected. Or who tells lies about another candidate, with no foundation whatsoever. Do your fellow Party members know about your nasty little lies, PurpleBooker? Do they know about your tendency to repeatedly tell people to ‘shut up’?

          I do hope you were campaigning for Jess Asato whilst you were in Norwich. If so, I do believe Jo Rust will be a shoe-in for the selection meeting, if you worked your usual ‘charms’.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

            I don’t think Labour Left have said anything at all about the issue – the blog was that of Left Futures

          • ThePurpleBooker

            There was a blog posted on Labour Left (then removed) supporting Kate Hudson. Many members of Labour Left have backed Kate Hudson. Also, there was a blog on Labour Left calling for Salma Yaqoob and her party to join Labour.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            You said she was a councillor when she is not. You have got your facts wrong, yet again – get them right!When she says she is a “genuine friend of Labour”, she means she wants Labour to move to the extreme left and is a friend of some Labour leftwingers. A friend of Labour would not lead an opposing party and try and undermine us like they did in Bethnal Green and Bow or Bradford West! It is like when George Galloway said he wants a ‘Labour’ government or Nigel Farage starts being supportive of Tories or when the Liberal Democrat left try and appeal to Labour to support Lords reform. You are demonstrating breathtaking naivety. Yaqoob does not support Labour, she leads Respect and that is final. The party would never allow her to step foot in a CLP meeting, yet alone rejoin the party. You would be happy to have someone who leads a coalition of radical Islamic extremists and Trotsykists who have run dishonest and anti-Semitic campaigns across the country to return to the party. I think that tells me all I need to know about you, mate!Frank Dobson is to the left of me (I actually opposed the Iraq War and I happen to support a graduate tax) but he is a massive tribalist and loathes Galloway – that is a fact. You have very little knowledge about the facts. Now on Labour Left, they have written articles calling for Salma Yaqoob and Respect to join the party. Some of their leading lights have backed Kate Hudson for Manchester Central. Now on your last paragraph, it is just a montage of overexaggeration, nonsense, pure lies and a dishonest caricature of my political positition. Some of it is partially true, and I justified my position at the time. I have learnt since then that the allegations were false, and I admitted I made a mistake. It is also is a key example of your Very little of what you have said there is true. The fact is Brumanuensis, I can bet that Jess Asato will be the PPC for Norwich North and Salma Yaqoob will never join our party but may I suggest in all honesty, that you join Respect and read some history books (maybe then you’ll get your facts right). Labour would be better off without indecisive, disloyal and dishonest fools like yourself.

          • Brumanuensis

            The logic of this post is impeccable. Presumably if you want currently Tory voters to vote for us, you must want to join the Tory party.

            I think you ought to tread very carefully before accusing me of being an anti-semite.

          • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

            I think it is welcome that Salma Yaqoob has distanced herself and her party from George Galloway’s comments and rightly condemned them. She now follow her words with actions and deselect him as well as expel him from her party otherwise it is all small beer.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            As for other members, I suspect Brendan still posts on this page but others have stopped. Jonathan Roberts, Robert Marchant and others have been reluctant so I’d just urge you to be quiet and get your facts right.

          • Brumanuensis

            Rob Marchant? Reluctant?

            I can think of lots of things to say about Marchant, but reluctant? No, I would never accuse him of that.

            Brendan will post what you post.

        • Redshift

          I think there is a difference between someone like Salma Yaqoob who clearly shares many of our values, and a Tory, who doesn’t. 

          George Galloway is an arsehole, it is wrong however to tar all people who’ve been members of Respect and had a political relationship with Galloway (or other leftist parties for that matter) with the same brush. 

          Many of our members have been members of Respect, the Greens, the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Labour Party, the Scottish Socialist Party, Solidarity, the Communist Party, the SDP, the Liberals and of course the Lib Dems. Are we going to tell them all to fuck off or do we keep the door open to converts?

    • yarco

      Elements of factualy incorrect here, but obviously not allowing it to get in the way of a good attack.

      The PCS Union is not affiliated to any political party, following a membership ballot this year it has now become policy to support individual candidates in some circumstances, no vote of affiliation to a political block has gone before the union.

      If you actualy knew the politics of the union you would know it wouldn’t be Respect the push would be to affiliate with (even with the differences between the GS and the NEC/officer class), but then you clearly either do not know or do not want the facts to cloud your point.

      And anyway we are a broad church, we have you as well as comrade McDonnell in our worshiptorium. I’m sure however ‘the greens’ will give your musings as much regard as we site locals do.

  • Bill Lockhart

    You people are too sissy when pussy footing around matters sexual.

    Look:

    Consentual sex: “Please… don’t… stop…”

    Rape or forced sex: “Please don’t! STOP!”

    Rape is a matter of nuance really; a matter of opinion. It’s not black and white. Get over it.

    • Brumanuensis

      I highly doubt this is really Bill Lockhart.

  • http://www.barder.com/ephems/ Brian Barder

    A very good and sensible post, but I’m sorry to see Ken Clarke’s remarks about rape misrepresented and misunderstood yet again.  He pointed out the incontrovertible fact that  some rapes are more serious than others — while stressing that of course all rapes are serious.  Where a woman agrees to have sex with a man but changes her mind after foreplay and tries to stop the man completing the act, but he ignores her protests and forcibly has full intercourse with her, that’s certainly rape, and serious.  But if a complete stranger follows a woman down a dark alley, grabs her and forcibly has sex with her despite her struggles and screams, that’s also sex but a much more serious form of it.  Those who maintain that all rapes are equally serious need to explain why the length of sentences for rape vary as much as they do. 

    The idea that Clarke was asserting that some rapes are not serious doesn’t survive a scrutiny of his original words.  He was forced to apologise by the gales of indignation caused by the widespread misunderstanding of the perfectly innocuous point he was making.

    Some mountains are higher than others.  To point that out is different from saying that some mountains are not high.

    • Brumanuensis

      Brian, what makes the first less serious than the second?

      • charles.ward

        I guess for the same reason murder is more serious than manslaughter: premeditation.

        • Brumanuensis

          “he ignores her protests and forcibly has full intercourse with her”.

          If he does that, it pretty strongly suggests an element of premeditation.

          • charles.ward

            Unless the man initiated foreplay with the knowledge that consent for full intercourse would be refused and he would proceed anyway, I don’t see how this would be premeditated.

            Unless your definition of premeditation is that he thought about it then did it, but then what crime is not premeditated?

            I think the law requires some degree of “planning” to demonstrate premeditiation.

          • Brumanuensis

            Yes, but initial refusal consent is not the main criterion for rape, as sexual intercourse is judged to be a ‘continuing act’ in the law, i.e. revocation of consent has equal status regardless of when it takes place in the context of the act – with the exception of after the act has finished, without getting too graphic.

            On premeditation, if the man intended to pursue his ‘desires’ without consent, then the fact the victim initially consented will not change that element, even if, I concede, it makes it harder to prove. For me, that constitutes planning.

          • charles.ward

             I’m not argueing that point.  If the man planned to have full intercourse without consent then that is obviously premeditation.

            You said that the fact that he did proceed when consent was removed “strongly suggests an element of premeditation”.

            If you think that the fact that the crime was commited is in itself evidence of premeditation then what crime is not premeditated?

          • http://www.barder.com/ephems/ Brian Barder

             It doesn’t suggest that he intended from the beginning to have sex with her *without her consent*, which is what premeditation would mean here.  When her attitude changed, he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) desist, which was reprehensible — a “serious” offence — but manifestly less so than the other hypothetical case I tried to describe. 

            I can’t quite believe that you genuinely can’t see the difference in gravity between the two rapes.  If you really can’t, I just hope that you aren’t a judge in RL!

          • Brumanuensis

            I don’t see why the rape itself is less serious though, Brian. You’ve written:

            “Where a woman agrees to have sex with a man but changes her mind after foreplay and tries to stop the man completing the act, but he ignores her protests and forcibly has full intercourse with her, that’s certainly rape, and serious. But if a complete stranger follows a woman down a dark alley, grabs her and forcibly has sex with her despite her struggles and screams”.

            With respect, I think the description of the two acts is influencing your opinion. In the second example, you specifically note that the woman ‘struggles and screams’, as well as the location being a ‘dark alley’. In the first, you mention her ‘protests’. This feels a touch semantic. Presumably her ‘protest’ involved ‘struggles and screams’ and the use of physical restraint to prevent her from escaping her rapist.   

            Furthermore, in the first, where presumably the rapist is know to his victim, is it not equally traumatic to be assaulted by someone you know, as much as by a stranger? In short, I don’t see why the second rape is naturally ‘worse’ than the first.

            Now of course, there are cases where extreme physical violence accompanies the rape. But the sentence given should reflect this as being in addition to the rape itself. If we think of it in crude (and completely arbitrary) time units.

            Rape = 5 years

            GBH/ABH = 5 years

            Rape + GBH/ABH = 10 years.

            What we have is a sentence that reflects the severity of the crime, but does not try and impose a ‘rape hierarchy’.

            I do acknowledge that the law takes the view that there are more serious rapes, but I disagree strongly with this analysis for the reasons I’ve set out above. I am actually in the law, Brian, so no doubt you will be gravely alarmed! But it’s not that I think all instances of sexual should get exactly the same sentence; I just think all kinds of rape should be given the same weight and any violence added on top of that, to give a longer sentence.

          • Brumanuensis

            On premeditation:

            The example you’ve offered suggests that the man intended to have sexual intercourse regardless of consent. Having intially secured consent – although obviously as a continuing act, it can be revoked at any time without automatically incurring rape charges – he then proceeded to continue sexual intercourse after consent was withdrawn.

            For me, the fact that he did so indicates that the consent of the victim was not a consideration in his behaviour. I acknowledge this is a very complicated matter, but I do think ‘mens rea’ for premeditation could be proven, on the basis of our hypothetical rapist’s actions, unless perhaps intoxication was involved – which complicates matters even more.

          • brianbarder

            I don’t see any reason to assume that in my example “the man intended to have sexual intercourse regardless of consent” or that “the consent of the victim was not a consideration in his behaviour”, except to the extent that he could have had no reason to expect that at a relatively late stage her consent would suddenly be withdrawn: up to that point, there would have been plenty of evidence of enthusiastic consent.  When a couple embark on love-making which both obviously expect to culminate in intercourse, it’s reasonable for each to note the consent of the other and, absent indications to the contrary, to assume that it will continue.  There’s surely no basis for supposing that in such a common, every-day situation, the man has it in mind from the start that he’s going to have intercourse with the woman whether she consents to it throughout or not.  IOW, there’s hardly ever premeditation in this type of case.  Leaving aside additional aggravating factors such as GBH probably committed in the course of the second rape, it seems unnecessary to contrast this with the other scenario in terms of relative depravity. It’s obvious to me, and I’m genuinely surprised that it’s not to you, too.

            It’s to some extent a matter of personal judgement, and probably not worth further debate.  Agreeing to differ is nothing to be ashamed of!

          • Brumanuensis

            Legally, just to clarify, I think you have sound grounds for your position Brian. My objection is mainly philosophical, although with legal elements. I shall consult my reference works and try and get back to you.

  • ThePurpleBooker

    Jesus wept! LabourLeft called for Salma Yaqoob to rejoin the party, it was an endorsement and was probably removed because of complaints from within the party.
    Salma Yaqoob is not a councillor. I don’t care if she’s expressed admiration for Ed Miliband. I admire Michael Heseltine but I am anti-Tory and anti-euro, Ed Miliband has expressed admiration for Thatcher, but that does not mean he is a Thatcherite – admiration does not equal agreement, you utter nincompoop! That argument is the lamest argument that you an ever make. She is the leader of Respect and a key ally of George Galloway’s, she is one of THEM – don’t you get it?! Again, you are completely wrong. Not even people on the soft left, like Frank Dobson (and Tony Banks if he was here today, God bless his soul) would be utterly outraged at the prospect of these people infiltrating their way in the party. I know you have little no sense whatsoever but I urge you to please shut up! You have made me and other members absolutely furious!
    Ken Clarke is senile.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

      When you say ‘Labour Left’, do you mean the organisation ‘Labour Left’, which has no connection with Left Futures, on whose blog the article appeared. Or are you generalising about ‘the left of the Labour party’ which seems in your view to refer to anyone who isn’t an uber-Blairite?

      I would rather have Selma Yaccob in the party than many of those currently there!

      I think the comment about Ken Clarke is offensive and libellous

  • ThePurpleBooker

    You said she was a councillor when she is not. You have got your facts wrong, yet again – get them right!
    When she says she is a “genuine friend of Labour”, she means she wants Labour to move to the extreme left and is a friend of some Labour leftwingers. A friend of Labour would not lead an opposing party and try and undermine us like they did in Bethnal Green and Bow or Bradford West! It is like when George Galloway said he wants a ‘Labour’ government or Nigel Farage starts being supportive of Tories or when the Liberal Democrat left try and appeal to Labour to support Lords reform. You are demonstrating breathtaking naivety. Yaqoob does not support Labour, she leads Respect and that is final. The party would never allow her to step foot in a CLP meeting, yet alone rejoin the party. You would be happy to have someone who leads a coalition of radical Islamic extremists and Trotsykists who have run dishonest and anti-Semitic campaigns across the country to return to the party. I think that tells me all I need to know about you, mate!
    Frank Dobson is to the left of me (I actually opposed the Iraq War and I happen to support a graduate tax) but he is a massive tribalist and loathes Galloway – that is a fact. You have very little knowledge about the facts.
    Now on Labour Left, they have written articles calling for Salma Yaqoob and Respect to join the party. Some of their leading lights have backed Kate Hudson for Manchester Central.
    Now on your last paragraph, it is just a montage of overexaggeration, nonsense, pure lies and a dishonest caricature of my political positition. Some of it is partially true, and I justified my position at the time. I have learnt since then that the allegations were false, and I admitted I made a mistake. It is also is a key example of your  Very little of what you have said there is true. The fact is Brumanuensis, I can bet that Jess Asato will be the PPC for Norwich North and Salma Yaqoob will never join our party but may I suggest in all honesty, that you join Respect and read some history books (maybe then you’ll get your facts right). Labour would be better off without indecisive, disloyal and dishonest fools like yourself.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Grace Fletcher-Hackwood has in the past on LL posted articles with which I profoundly disagreed (that does not make me right on those articles, merely that I disagreed), but on this matter I deeply support her sentiment.

    I am a Christian, but I don’t believe everything the bible says, nor have I gone so far up the magic path of suspension of disbelief of obvious reality as Mr Akin appears to have done.

    I’ve seen with my own eyes that rape used as an act of war (in Yugoslavia in the mid 90s) can and did result in pregnancies.  It was done by both sides, not for any sexual relief purposes I would imagine, but as a hate crime against an ethnicity – all sides viewed it as a gross insult against their opponents’ firmly held religious principles, as well as against the woman herself.  

    While I worked in Serbia and so saw Serbian women so afflicted (and often with brutal beatings and other indignities that are unnecessary to repeat), it does appear that the Serbs were more prolific than the Bosniaks in their choice of this method.

    So, from the victim’s point of view, their physiological reaction to being raped as an act of war – according to Mr Akin – should have been to shut down every orifice and sphincter, internal and external, release chemicals into the bloodstream to kill off invading sperm, shut down the blood supply to the uterus and surrounding area, and auto-abort any successfully fertilised egg.  According to Mr Akin.  And yet the female human body does not work like that, so he is talking from his trousers.

    The American right is truly capable of breeding and nurturing complete fruitloops to become their political representatives, and in Mr Akin we have a prime example.

    • Brumanuensis

      An outstanding post, Jamie. Could you tell us a bit more, if it’s not too unpleasant, about your time in the former Yugoslavia? I’m very interested to hear about your experiences and what you thought of the dynamics of the conflict there, based on what you saw.
       
      Thanks,
       
      Brum

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        It was not so exciting Brum, more of a professional move to see if I wanted to work in Europe (I always assumed the UK, but Spain was also an option for language reasons.  Of the two, UK for family / historic reasons, Spain was a lower bar to cross because of transportability of qualifications and immediate familiarity with the language).

        I took a post in a small Serbian District Hospital under an exchange scheme that the former Yugoslavia had in operation between a number of South American countries and Yugoslavia.  In 1994/5, only Serbia was still operating the scheme.  I had all of my travel costs paid, and as well as my salary (about £6,000, the same as in Chile) and I had my accommodation paid for.

        The hospital was about 30 miles inside Serbia proper, but the border with Bosnia had on the other side the Bosnian Serb “Krajinas”.  

        It was the policy of the Serbs on both sides of the border to operate little more than casualty and maternity facilities in the Krajinas, mostly because sanctions meant that they could not reliably offer even electricity, let alone a steady supply of drugs. So the little sleepy district hospital in Serbia, along with perhaps a dozen others saw a lot more general work than would normally be expected, and it was routine for patients to be referred for more complex treatment from within the Krajinas.  

        Of course, the political and media atmosphere was tremendously pro-Serb.  There was some local propaganda where photographers would come to photograph war casualties or journalists to recount the stories of victims.  I was not so comfortable with this, but would have been swiftly out of a job if I had made any complaint (I was both junior, and temporary, and so completely dispensable if I had made a complaint).  No one else on the staff saw anything wrong.

        The year did confirm to me that I did wish to work in Europe, and also in A&E.  I had no qualifications in A&E at the time, so my first position in the UK was in general medicine in Darlington from which I had to lose two years of equivalent seniority to retrain in A&E – this sort of transfer is quite common among doctors.  Diarmid Weir who sometimes posts on LL transferred a far greater distance – from being a GP to an economist, so I only imagine the number of years he stepped back.  I had to return to Chile – which I wanted to do anyway, to look my parents in the eye and let them know I would be making my life 8,000 miles away.  They were disheartened by this, but my father understood – he had made the opposite journey to Argentina from Scotland in the late 1950s when he grew depressed with then smallness and social constraints of Scottish life.  He never saw his father again, so returning to Chile for a while was both practical and emotionally necessary for me.

        I have read as widely as I can on the Yugoslavian conflicts.  The Serbs are very often portrayed as ruthless and murderous, and indeed they can be and often were.  It is senseless to deny this.  So also were the Bosniaks and the Croats, perhaps not in equal measure, but quantity of crime is not such a defence when the quality is evenly debased.  I recall quite well that we had in the hospital the body of a Serb officer brought in for formal pathology.  He had been decapitated alive with a long knife by the Bosniaks after being captured – this was an early example of the sort of treatment that Richard Pearl and some other westerners received in Pakistan and Iraq.  Of course, that was for propaganda use by the Serbs.  Such is war.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QDMFX65KM5STSAFHAC4FOLFTO4 fran

    In most rape cases the issue is consent and the interpretation of consent. It’s easy to say sex without consent is rape but stating truisms doesn’t help people get justice – whether victims or accused. What exercises the criminal justice system and jurys is not that they don’t understand the definition of rape but that they have to make judgements on this issue of consent. Has it been freely given, was there capacity to give consent, is their evidence from before and after the alleged rape which incriminates or exonerates the accused. What is the sufficiency of evidence and does it meet the test of beyond reasonable doubt ?  I think much more education is needed on the issue of consent but too many public awareness campaigns settle for stating the obvious pithy “no means no ..” type headline and eschew any educative purpose. Young men and women need to know and understand what consent means and how it is signalled in sexual encounters and the consequences of acting without consent if for example the other person is unable to consent due to alcohol, drugs etc., Of course this approach has implications for sex education providers and other associated professionals working in schools, health, youth settings, policing and criminal justice. Do we talk to young people enough about what constitutes consensual sex and how they can articulate consent to each other ? Do we give them the knowledge and confidence to  develop as sexual beings with the intra and interpersonal skills to have a satisfying and safe sex life ?  

          

  • girlguide

    Tonight on Newsnight, Craig Murray, who claims to be of the left, named one of the Swedish women on live television.  I find it tragic that he should place the political position of Assange, before the human rights of these two women, and that he was prepared to humiliate them, blacken their reputation, and prejudge an allegation of rape.  Craig Murray is an absolute disgrace.

  • Pingback: Grace Fletcher-Hackwood: Rape 101 | Country Talk Forum

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