Magazine article The Spectator

The Rape of Justice

Magazine article The Spectator

The Rape of Justice

Article excerpt

ONE of the many mysteries of our age is why the British establishment has declared open season upon half the human race. Men are being systematically robbed of their reputation, their children and their purpose in life. The people responsible for this sexual warfare are sober women and men in suits - pin-striped, rather than boiler - not to mention wigs and gowns.

If what is routinely thrown at men was directed at any of our fabled victim groups - women, black people, gays - society would stand condemned of the most vile prejudice, discrimination and even persecution. Yet the vast majority of people either don't know how the dice are being loaded against men or, if they do have an inkling, think deep down (or not so deep) that, well, they really do deserve it.

You think this is exaggerated? Consider the review of sexual offences which is about to be published. Through judicious leaks, the government has indicated that it wants to toughen up the rape law because not enough men are being convicted. So it intends to skew court proceedings against them to make them less able to defend themselves against a prosecution.

Just think about that for a moment. Suppose the government said, for example, that not enough women were being convicted of shoplifting so it was going to make it more difficult for them to mount a defence. Unthinkable, isn't it? That's because the implication that women were naturally shoplifters would be preposterous, that artificially inflating the number of convictions for shoplifting to fit this false stereotype would be grotesque, and that it could only be done by junking our most precious legal maxim that a person is innocent until proved guilty.

Yet this is precisely what is being proposed in rape cases. The government intends to change the definition of consent to sex, the common defence against the charge of rape, so the defendant will have to prove that the woman did in fact consent. Lawyers are divided over whether this would technically mean reversing the burden of proof. All agree, however, that it would make it much more difficult for a man accused of rape to defend himself. And that's because the government assumes that all men accused of rape are guilty.

In fact, the evidence suggests this is completely untrue. Home Office figures for 1996 showed that 25 per cent of rapes reported to the police were false or malicious or the complainant withdrew the charge. In a further 39 per cent of reported cases the police or the Crown Prosecution Service took no further action because the complainant and suspect knew each other and so the circumstances were ambiguous; and a further 7 per cent of cases resulted in an acquittal.

Yet the government not only fails to acknowledge this, but also uses statistical jiggery-pokery to produce a false picture of soaring rapes and thousands of rapists escaping conviction. True, there was a fall in the conviction rate from 24 per cent in 1985 to 9 per cent in 1997. Yet that may be because freer sexual behaviour makes rape claims more untenable. While `stranger rapes' are very rare, `date rapes' between acquaintances have soared from 1,300 in 1985 to 5,000 in 1996, almost half of all reported cases. Rape is without doubt a most heinous crime. Yet most reasonable people would probably think that being jumped on in a dark alley is a completely different matter from having second thoughts, sometimes in retrospect, about a bloke with whom you've gone home after a party or with whom you've already been sleeping.

Anti-man prejudice, in fact, runs through government thinking. Baroness Jay and her Women's Unit constantly fork out the old chestnut that one woman in four is assaulted by her partner. In fact, most British domestic violence studies on which the government relies for such claims are effectively rigged; they ask only women, not men, for their domestic violence experiences, mainly from self-selecting samples of abused women. …

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