Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From the archives: A brilliantly written, must-read article about false rape

Malicious accusers are as bad as rapists
By Kevin Myers 16 Aug 2003

Alison Welfare did her best to bring life-long ruin to her boyfriend, Christopher Wheeler. She sent herself threatening e-mails, and then told the police they had come from him.

She tore her clothes, daubed herself with paint, bound and gagged herself, and allowed herself to be found in a "distressed" condition in a McDonald's lavatory in Peckham, south London, having been "raped" at knifepoint.

Christopher Wheeler was arrested and spent two months in jail before some pretty impressive police-work revealed that he had been the victim of her elaborate malevolence.

Last week Wheeler was jailed for a year - but since she could be released within six months, she might spend only four months more in jail than her victim.

I don't know which is worse: to be framed and sentenced to life imprisonment for something you didn't do, or to be raped. Nor does it matter a great deal. Both involve utterly evil deeds: and we can be sure of the outcry from feminist groups if a rapist had been sentenced to only a year's imprisonment.

There has been no outcry at the leniency shown to Alison Welfare. However, there was an outcry in the last case that I remember in which a woman was charged with making malevolent and baseless accusations of rape. That was from feminists, denouncing the fact that the woman was sentenced to a couple of months' imprisonment for making false rape charges against two Irish soldiers in Cyprus.

"This case will deter genuine rape victims from reporting rape," screamed the Irish Rape Crisis Centre, demanding the release of the Irishwoman responsible.

The illogic was breath-taking, for we rightly reserve particular opprobrium for rapists. But by making light of the false accusation of rape, women's groups are trivialising rape itself. You cannot debase a currency for some of the time; once debased, it stays debased.

Maybe the confusion in feminist minds of the gravity of rape is a reflection of the confusion in society generally. Convictions after allegations of rape have fallen in England and Wales to less than 6 per cent, even as allegations of rape increased by 27 per cent to 11,441.

Everyone believes that rape is evil, yet rape appears to be running out of control: why the disparity between the mounting allegations of rape, and the strangely inadequate response by society and the police?

Is it that we secretly believe that some rapes are not rapes as we all understand the term? Are some allegations not simply statements of regret the day afterwards? The claim of rape deletes voluntary female participation, not least in the woman's mind.

Moreover, the numerous allegations that the drug Rohypnol has been used in date rape suggests how many women want an alibi for their conduct. Yet very few, if any, alleged rape victims in Britain or Ireland have tested positive for the drug. Indeed, surveys in Canada and Australia suggest that the date-rape drug is pure myth.

People only have myths because they need them, however, and the desire to be the victim of someone else's actions rather than one's own is commonplace.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the sexual offences unit in one Dublin hospital found levels of alcohol in many of the alleged victims of rape that were matched only by those of the victims of alcoholic poisoning in the morgue. Many rape "victims" were unable even to remember their own names, and were far too incoherent to describe what had happened.

What is rape? In some states in the US, a woman can claim that she has been raped if she consents to sex while she is over the drink-driving limit. By that criterion, I could confidently say that just about every woman I know has been raped.

Yet rape is the great undiscussable in the relations between the sexes, because it is the only truly male crime. When I once said in all-female company that rape was not worse than murder - for most women, clearly, would choose to be raped rather than killed - I was savaged. I was told that when talking to woman about rape, a man should only assent to women's opinions.

The taboo on rape is one of the defining characteristics of civilisation, and its power depends on reasoned humanism, not on ideological conformism. Yet ideological conformism is precisely the tool that feminists are now using in their campaign against rape. They have expanded its definitions almost indefinitely, so that according to some "surveys" almost every woman has been "raped".

It is, moreover, an unassailable dogma now that rape is not about sex or pleasure but power. But how can those who by definition are unable to rape be so certain about the motive for those who do?

False allegations of rape, however, are about power, for they mobilise the proper revulsion society feels about the crime against the unfortunate target. So we should protect the powerful societal taboo on rape by treating those who falsely allege rape with the severity with which we treat rapists. That is the least the true victims of rape deserve.