Tuesday, 4 March 2008

In Better News…

The Scottish executive have announced that £200,000 will be given to Rape Crisis Scotland to fund a campaign that points out that women are not to blame for rape. It will include posters of drunk, flirty and scantily dressed women and the message: ‘This isn't an invitation to rape me’. It is also going to try to make it clear that physical force is not required for sex to be rape. This will partner to rape legislation that, for the first time in Scotland, defines the meaning of consent and places the burden on the rapist to demonstrate (not prove in a legal sense) consent in court.

This is a step in the right direction. Now, if only other governmental bodies would sit up and listen…


Anonymous said...

Female Avatar,

Whilst I usually agree with your rants, I must say that this one is a step in the wrong direction.

While I do believe that the onus of proof on women to prove rape is a ridiculous notion, especially when we consider the differing circumstances that can lead to unconsensual sex.

I believe that by switching this to the "rapist" proving he is innocent, is contradictory to the legal system. In most countries you are innocent until proven guilty. I do not for one feel comfortable by the suggestion that the man has to then prove consent.

This is just as difficult to prove as it is for the women to prove a lack of consent.

It is my opinion that this would not solve the issue, just prejudice men instead of women.

I am sure that on balance we should be looking towards a system of justice where women and men are treated equally within the courtroom rather than having the same unjust system remian in place with the onus switched.

Sorry for the rant and perhaps the poor spelling.

Mr Feminist.

Feminist Avatar said...

The alleged rapist does not have to 'prove' innocence in a legal sense; they have to demonstrate that they made an effort to ensure consent. So, instead, of the rape victim having to show how they demonstrated that they said 'no', the rapist has to demonstrate that the person said 'yes'. In cases where it is 'her against him', it probably won't make much of a difference. The intention of the law is to stop rapists arguing she was wearing a provocative oufit or she was flirting with me and equating that with consent. It is also to help prevent the rape of very drunk or unconscious women.

To be honest, I am not sure if it is the most workable piece of legislation, but since Scottish rape law is so old and defined so narrowly, we desperately needed a makeover. Also, if it encourages people to check consent before they have sex, out of fear of the law, then it is only a good thing.

Anonymous said...

That was my point, that the legislation was unworkable.

I kind of jumped the gun a bit and never fully read the post.

Mr. Feminist

Grace said...

Hi thanks for the link! Unfortunately the adversarial legal system of the UK will always go in favour of the defendant because it is seen as better for some guilty people to go free than to punish those who are actually innocent. It's never that simple though because there is a certain amount of bureaucracy and politics in the legal system of course!

Mr Feminist - if only the legal system could treat men and women equally! Thing is, even on the same side of the bench there are stark differences in how they are dealt with. Of course you would think that victims would be treated better than defendants regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, ability, appearance and so on, but that's not often the case when the victim is not from the 'desirable' group to the judge. Unfortunately there is still a lot of 'she must have been asking for it' mentality which takes the focus off the perpetrator and on to the victim.

I think the Scottish campaign is great, much better than the Know Your Limits campaign (FA - did you see the responses I got from the Home Office in a later post?), I particularly like the posters/post cards that show the ridiculous questions that victims are asked in court rooms.