(This was originally posted at Boots Theory yesterday when The Standard was down.)
It’s headline news: Labour supports re-starting a Law Commission review initiated by Simon Power to investigate possible changes in our judicial system including the option of adopting an inquisitorial approach in cases of sexual violence. Shocking stuff!
Tom Scott has helpfully illustrated the debate with a cartoon in which the personification of Justice is clearly asking for it with her slutty attire and manhating ways.
There are so many things I want to say but just can’t find the words for. The statistics are all out there: the utter everyday common-ness of sexual assault. The under-reporting. The horrifyingly low level of prosecutions, much less convictions. The trauma and pain that survivors go through on a routine basis just to get a smidgen of justice.
All I can really focus on are these two incredibly ignorant statements from DPF’s hysterical little post:
Bear in mind that even if you are married to them, that is not proof [of consent].
If it is what you say vs what they say, you will lose.
And all day today, I’ve seen men on Twitter and Facebook say things like “if this happens men will be afraid to be in a room with a woman without a witness!” or “what if my ex suddenly decides to attack me with a false accusation?” or “how can I possibly prove my innocence when it’s their word against mine?”
Here’s the thing, men. If those ideas horrify you, you need to understand one thing: that’s how women feel all the time. These are the thoughts we’re already having. The reality is that somewhere between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime – and that’s an overall statistic, because it’s far higher for women of colour, for example.
I can appreciate that when the only version of this story you hear is the David Farrar “Labour will murder everything you hold dear” spin, you might start to get worried, and you might decide to completely ignore the realities of how our justice system treats sexual violence (9% estimated reporting rate, 13% conviction rate, awesome!).
But the only thing Labour is guilty of is considering an expert, independent review of our justice system. That’s all.
On the other hand, after a day of reading awful, heartless comments like “this is just about protecting victims’ feelings” I have to say this. If it were the radical man-hating straw-feminist outrage that the Herald and DPF are trying to sell you, you know what? It’s about damn time that the people who commit sexual assault are held to account for their actions, and far beyond time that we stopped persecuting their victims by putting them in the impossible situation of proving they never consented.