Thursday, November 21, 2013

Writer challenges the "cult-like elevation" of the "inalienable 'truth' . . . that we live in an age where rape is part of everyday culture, and where those in power are doing nothing to stop it'

Luke Gittos has written an uncompromising piece that challenges the prevailing narrative about rape: "We must be free to question rape laws: Feminist academics are using slurs and threats to chill the debate on rape. They must be challenged."

Here are some excerpts:
We are seeing the cult-like elevation of one inalienable ‘truth’ above all others. This ‘truth’ is that we live in an age where rape is part of everyday culture, and where those in power are doing nothing to stop it. Anyone who dares question this prevailing orthodoxy on rape is guilty of a chauvinistic heresy, attributable to their immersion in a controlling patriarchal society.
. . . .
. . . those who dare to question the prevailing view on rape are dismissed as ‘apologists’ who unwittingly contribute to ‘rape culture’ through their espousal of prejudices against women. In the words of the Feminists at Law journal, the arguments of these ‘apologists’ ‘feed dangerous stereotypes’ that perpetuate a culture which legitimises sexual violence. 
What is most worrying about the drive to close down debate around rape is that the prevailing view is so often completely wrong. Consider the often-spouted idea that rape has a low conviction rate. Anyone who questions this holy nugget of truth is likely to find himself called a ‘rape apologist’. But the fact is that rape convictions are at an all-time high: 63 per cent of rape trials end in a conviction. Rape is one of the few offences in which a jury is more likely to believe a complainant than not. Even Baroness Stern, whose review of rape statistics in 2010 is usually quoted as the holy bible of rape truth, pointed out that the idea that the conviction rate for rape was peculiarly low was ‘distorting public understanding’ and putting off complainants from coming forward. 
Or take the idea that the police and prosecutors do nothing about rape. Wrong again. Recent legal history is awash with laws and policy reforms designed to make the prosecution of rape easier. The introduction of complainant anonymity, the establishment of specialised medical investigation units to recover the best possible evidence as soon as possible and the introduction of pre-recorded evidence are just three examples of a long list of reforms targeted at convicting more people of rape. Yet the idea that the police will ‘ignore’ complainants, or that all rape cases are doomed to fail, is bandied around as an unquestionable truth. It’s completely wrong.