Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Believing what you want to believe.

As a rape survivor who, like most others did not receive justice, this sort of reporting (which happens frequently) severely pisses me off:


The article is about actor Michael Le Vell. Now while I am impartial to his situation and don't care to speculate whether he is guilty of anything or not, the article suggests he has been found innocent while actually he has not.

First part of the article:
"Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has told his family of his joy at being cleared of child rape allegations."

Later part of the article:
"Following enquiries by Greater Manchester Police I have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to put before a court."

Being "cleared" of a crime means going through the courts and being found 'not guilty', or being found not guilty in preliminary investigations. In his situation, the case will not be brought to court because the law will not even allow a trial unless there is a high chance of a ‘guilty’ verdict. Because rape is usually committed in private, the high amount of evidence required by law usually does not exist. Evidence usually required includes witnesses and CCTV recordings - which is ridiculous considering the most common place to be raped is in your own home.

Only 6% of reported rapes end in conviction because the vast majority of them do not even reach court. This is because the law is tailored towards ‘stranger rape’ scenarios where there will be CCTV evidence, witnesses and severe physical assault. However only 8% of rapes are committed by strangers and possibly may even happen this way, so most rape cases do not possess the required evidence to even get a trial.

Now, as a feminist who has encountered the same thing happening to me, I'm not even suggesting that we should believe the alleged victim must be telling the truth. The fact is that since there has been no legal finding one way or the other, we should remain impartial. That is unless we have access to the evidence in the CPS report, which we don't. My point is that people are far too ready to believe the woman must be lying. Even though it's not been proven one way or the other, they'll be on the side of the accused being innocent and the woman being a liar. Based on absolutely nothing at all.

From Twitter.

Now looking through the comments under the article, the vast majority of readers have wrongly deduced that the alleged perpetrator has been found not guilty and are outraged for the poor man that he has been “falsely accused”! So if, like 94% of rape survivors, you don’t get a chance in court to receive justice (because you didn’t film your ex-partner raping you and he didn't invite a witness to watch!) you are often seen as a liar. I'd like to add here that in my case, a signed confession and emails to the same effect, which he admitted to writing, were not deemed enough evidence to take him to trial.

Notice the amount of people who agree (green arrow) and disagree (red arrow).

Most rapists don't reach court because the law is flawed, this does not mean they have been found 'not guilty' and are falsely accused. For more on how the law is biased towards 'stranger rapes' see my petition here.

I still wish I had a bloody camcorder.

[All statistics from the UK Home Office Report. Alan, J and Myhill, A.]

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