Saturday, July 24, 2010

Another blow to the presumptively innocent accused of rape: the UK's anonymity plan is DOA

So much for the promises of politicians. First, it was going to be anonymity for the presumptively innocent accused of rape until conviction. Then, that was scrapped for anonymity until charge. Now the politicians don't want any legislation but want "to see whether a voluntary agreement could be reached on the pre-charge reporting of rape suspects."  Read it here: http://www.dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/189005/U-turn-on-anonymity-for-rape-defendants/

Do we need to repeat the rationale for anonymity?  Anonymity does not send a message that rape victims should not be believed any more than anonymity for rape accusers sends a message that the men and boys they accuse should not be believed.  The message conveyed by this very limited anonymity policy is that the harm of publicly identifying the presumptively innocent who might have been falsely accused is unconscionable, because a rape claim is singularly loathsome and because, once a rape claim is alleged, unlike other allegations of criminality, it is nearly impossible to disprove.

Women will not stop coming forward to report rape even when the accused are anonymous. After all, women continue to come forward now even when the accused is, for example, a teen male who is legally anonymous. No one has ever made the argument that anonymity for that class of accuseds who are already legally anonymous is harmful to women, and the argument appears to be a false, belated, and gender politicized construction that has no place in the public discourse about a matter so serious.

It is, in fact, likely that more women will come forward if the men accused of rape are anonymous. When women cry rape and the man is identified, since most rapes are of the acquaintance variety, it often isn't difficult to infer who the accuser is. It is reasonable to assume that most rape victims would prefer not to have their identities revealed by inference.

But none of that matters. What matters in politics is power. Women's groups are organized and committed.  They have the power.  We do not. 

But power or no, the next time a young man is beaten, killed, or takes his own life because his name was splashed all over the news for a rape he didn't commit, everyone needs to know who has blood on his and her hands: the spineless politicians who feared women's groups, and, of course, the women's groups themselves.  Not that the latter will ever acknowledge their complicity in the evil done by false rape accusers.