Saturday, 14 March 2009

Someone needs to explain what went wrong and why

Seeing as I have been taken to task on here for supposedly not taking rape seriously enough (which was wrong, but...), let's talk about the cab driver just convicted of a series of assaults and almost certainly responsible for many more (100 say the serious papers, as many as 500 say the tabloids). In my opinion there should be as much of a public outcry over this as there was over the Baby P case. His victims have been let done by the authorities - in this case, the police - clearly not doing their job properly. The guy had a very distinctive modus operandi, which should have made it easy to link the cases and, indeed, to track him down. I suspect if he'd concentrated on picking up women from railway stations on their way home from work, the police would have been onto it a lot quicker, but when it's drunken women making their way home from a night out, that old 'contributory negligence' rears its ugly head again.

And on this, I stand by the point I was making in my 'what is a women's issue?' post, about how we can't just deal with 'women's issues' within a women-only silo. The debate about rape should be taken to the men, discussed amongst young lads at school (after all, the majority of rapes are not 'stranger rapes' by deranged serial rapists), along with other issues such as domestic violence, unplanned pregnancies, and generally, treating women with respect. This message needs to be reinforced by male role models. And taken up by male politicians. Men are, it's a fact, more likely to listen when it's men doing the talking. I'd like to see Gordon intervening on this, not just leaving it to Jacqui and Harriet and Vera. And how about Cameron asking him about it at PMQs this week?

6 comments:

bevanite said...

I'd also like to see Gordon and any other Labour male MPs, support Harriet Harman more vocally, vehemently and more often... especially when the attacks against her are so often based on sexist, antiquated tripe.
If men are more likely to listen to men then Labour MPs need to speak up. I hold no hope for the other lot, silence is expected: preferable when it comes to Alan Duncan.

Leg-iron said...

Well, it was hard to find him because he preyed on women who were already drunk. Even sober, do you have any memory of your taxi driver on the way home? I don't. Even if I've talked to him the whole way, memory vanishes as soon as I get out of his car.

He then drugged them, which further affects memory. They might have said 'a taxi driver did it' but there are a lot of real ones and a lot of 'dodgy' ones. Picking out one would be impossible.

This guy, and I'm delighted he's off the streets by the way, was a dangerous man but not a stupid one. Don't make the mistake of thinking criminals are all slope-headed morons. Some are very clever indeed.

Considering your opponents to be idiots is a certain way to failure.

timbone said...

Police, Prison Officers, Teachers and so on can't win. It sounds awful when we hear that the guy was questioned and released without charge, then went on to commit further offences before being charged and convicted.
Thank goodness he is now behind bars.
Looking at this fairly though, what could the Police on previous occasions have done. If a man or woman goes to the police and says he or she did this to me, the Police can investigate it, but they have to have sufficient evidence to make a charge. Imagine the outcry if they went ahead and charged an innocent person, which has been done on previous occasions. They were in a particularly difficult position concerning a crime with no witnesses.
Yes, it would have been far better had the man been caught sooner. I bet Police officers are frustrated many times by the fact that they know a person in custody is guilty, but because of insufficient evidence, they have to release them without charge.

bevanite said...

I think we also need to tackle the problem of women who don't report instances like these. There is undoubtedly a stigma and reticence which prevents many from speaking up, perhaps we need to reform the process and the experience of reporting horrendous instances such as these? I'm not sure, but women (in particular, but not exclusively) need to be aware that in staying silent they are endangering perhaps, in this case,hundreds others.

classisms said...

Bevanite, I don't think you've ever been a victim of rape (and I certainly hope you haven't.) While it's easy to say women should 'speak up' I don't think you're considering what 'speaking up' entails. Rape fucks your head up so badly it is difficult to cope with by itself. Those of us who have not gone to the police do so for our own extremely valid reasons. I knew the police would not investigate my case and even if they did it would never have ended in a conviction. Why should women put themselves through the God awful process of being disbelieved and in some cases endangering their lives by attempting to take their rapists to court? Many women are, sadly, rightly scared of what would happen to them not just mentally but also by their attackers when they attempt to get justice and it doesn't happen.

"women (in particular, but not exclusively) need to be aware that in staying silent they are endangering perhaps, in this case,hundreds others."
That is deeply insulting and I pray you made that comment in ignorance rather than after consideration. Rape victims, no matter what circumstances, should have to the right whether to persue a prosectution or not. For some of us we'll have to stay silent for the rest of our lives and it's the only way we'll be able to cope and remain safe. My best friend, whose life has been destroyed by her lesbian 'partner' (I spit the name) who raped and sexually abused her for a long time didn't go to the police. She had a hard time getting her GP to take her seriously, imagine what she would have faced with the police. Do you think she is endangering other women in the lesbian community? Would you say that to her face? I think, and hope, not.

That wasn't remotely a personal attack, in case you think it was. I'm simply hoping you'll understand the reality and human beings behind statements like yours. I agree it needs to be tackled and I don't think any would disagree, but to say that they are putting other women in danger is false and is sadly just another excuse people (other than yourself who are far less sympathetic) use to lay blame on the victims.

bevanite said...

Classisms,
I have read your response and understand where you're coming from, but am afraid that you're not understanding my point.

I completely agree with you that many women are, perhaps rightly, fearful and reticent to go to the police. It is not the women that need to change, it's the system. I thought I made that clear. No proportion of "blame" should be aimed at the victims of this type of crime. I never suggested that.

What I said was the cold fact that with failure to report such crime, others become edangered. It's an unavoidable consequence. Do I think women who stay silent, do so out of choice? Not at all. Do I think things have to change so many feel empowered enough, and safe enough, to speak up? Yes.
The synical attitude many women have towards the investigative process into rape is, according to many victims, justified. If the system changes then hopefully such synicism can be reversed. Rape undeniably has psychological consequences which should be addressed by available councilling as soon as a woman steps foot in a police station.

In short, I would never "blame" the women, I'm blaming the system.