Rape conviction rates up, but…

It was reported last week that conviction rates for rape in the UK are higher than they’ve ever been. 63% of prosecutions in 2012/13 resulted in a conviction, which is 5% more than five years previously. Similar success is reported regarding domestic violence. This is, of course, good news. However, it’s not quite a straightforward success.

First,  the ‘conviction’ rate includes all convictions resulting from the prosecution, many of which are not actually for rape (someone might, for example, be tried for rape and convicted of a lesser sexual offence). In 2010/11, the actual rate of conviction for rape was 33% out of an overall conviction rate of 58%. The same is likely to apply to the reported figure for 2012/13.

Second, as the initial linked article points out, another main complaint about the legal process concerns the proportion of reported rapes which result in a prosecution. According to this article, an annual average of 15 670 reports results in an average of 2 910 prosecutions. That’s about 19%. So even if 63% of those 2910 cases result in convictions, that’s a mere 11% of the original reported total. In other words, 89% of reported rapes don’t result in any sort of conviction. Bear in mind that the Crown Prosecution Service recently released a report (pdf) which establishes pretty comprehensively that false allegations of rape are extremely rare.

Third, yet another problem with the legal process is the fact that so many people are discouraged from reporting rape in the first place. For fairly obvious reasons, statistics on under-reporting are hard to come by or verify (one estimate attributed to the Ministry of Justice in the Independent article above is 60 000 to 95 000 — that’s quite a variation between the upper and lower limits). But it’s apparent that this is a problem, and it’s apparent that even if conviction rates continue to increase, there’s a lot more to be done to improve the legal and policing environment which results in under-reporting and under-prosecution.

 

No More

This is a new US campaign aimed at ending domestic violence and sexual assault, which is launched today, March 13th.

The next time you’re in a room with 6 people, think about this:

  • 1 in 4 women experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
  • 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.
  • 1 in 6 women are survivors of sexual assault.
  • 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual victimization in their lives.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.

These are not numbers.

They’re our mothers, girlfriends, brothers, sisters, children, co-workers and friends.

They’re the person you confide in most at work, the guy you play basketball with, the people in your book club, your poker buddy, your teenager’s best friend – or your teen, herself.

The silence and shame must end for good.

You can read more about the campaign here.

Some days, I just can’t.

I do not know how to describe how disturbed, how heartbroken, how frustrated, and most of all, how angry I am at the moment.   (Trigger warning for the full story, and especially the video itself. )

A chilling video leaked by an Anonymous cell this week has added a new twist to a sordid tale of alleged rape that has shattered the peace of a close-knit Ohio football town.

The disturbing 12-minute video, posted online Tuesday by the hacktivist group “Knight Sec,” shows teens making jokes about the events that reportedly transpired on Aug. 22.

One teen appears to be refer to the victim as “deader than” Trayvon Martin, and adds, “she is so raped her p**s is about as dry as the sun right now.”

I am horrified by what happened in India. I am also horrified that being charged with rape apparently isn’t much of a detraction from one’s political candidacy there. I am absolutely sick and tired of how rape is treated like a joke, again, and again. I am so far beyond over the way our reverence for athletes and loyalty to our favorite teams enables silencing, suffering, and double standards again, and again, and again. I am tired of victim blaming. I don’t even know where to start on American politicians talking about rape. I am incensed that there was controversy at all about the Violence Against Women Act, and even more so that it wasn’t reauthorized.

I simply don’t have the right words at the moment.

Priest blames women for femicide

Unfortunately, this is not a story from The Onion. A parish priest in Italy said that women need to engage in some “healthy self-criticism” when it comes to the issue of femicide, and in so doing, displayed that he’s in some serious need of “healthy self-criticism” himself.  The text, which he posted on a church bulletin board, said that women’s behavior —  everything from not keeping the house clean, “cold meals,” “fast food at home,” “babies left to themselves,” and the way women dress — is to blame for violence against women.

The core of the problem is in the fact that women are more and more provocative, they yield to arrogance, they believe they can do everything themselves and they end up exacerbating tensions.

And Erin Gloria Ryan comments over at Jezebel.

As part of an ongoing campaign to convince everyone to quit being Catholic, an Italian priest used his annual Christmas message to expound on a very Christmasy topic he’d spent many years studying in Priest JuCo — domestic violence. And like most instances when a celibate male Catholic official comments on what women should or should not be doing, it was epically stupid. His advice? Basically, ladies, if you don’t want your husband to kill you, then you should probably stop dressing like such a skank.

Security, Protection, Self-Care: international Feminism’s agenda

Apparently a good amount of international peace and justice activists’ discourse is focused these days on issues about security, protection and self-care. At the same time, it can be difficult for policy makers to have much sense of the immense range of responsibilities women’s lives can involve; plans for a nation can too often neglect or work against women’s interests. In responding to this problem, women working for the security and protection of women in developing countries have, over the last several decades, developed a very nuanced and detailed agenda. It is still evolving, of course, but the recent meeting in Istanbul of the Association of Women’s Rights in Development seems to me to suggest an exciting and maturing convergence of agendas.

There is so much going on; so many questions being raised, so many action plans being developed. Follow through on some of the links from the conference, and see what you think.

I’m told there was not much Western presence. I think that is a situation we should think about critically. Many of the problems being discussed are not regional.

WE ADVANCE in Haiti

Inspiring work by grassroots organizations and the wonderful people (local and otherwise) who do the work, who make it happen, who “advance the health, safety, and well being of women… WE ADVANCE models an inclusive grassroots approach with a movement that collaborates with both other organizations and women from every socio-economic class. WE ADVANCE is a rights- and community-based participatory program. We empower women’s minds, bodies and spirits and enable them to discover their own needs and priorities, benefiting the entire community. WE ADVANCE brings in volunteer experts to train local community leaders in the aspects of health, safety and education. WE ADVANCE’s goal is to, in the near future, leave our programs in the hands of Haitian women, the women who know best what they need and how to make it a reality.”

WE ADVANCE

The news piece at the link below by actress and activist Maria Bello (from about one year ago) arguably highlights some of the important differences between certain kinds of institutionalized, elite human rights work/advocacy and organizations, on the one hand, and local, grassroots (oriented) individuals and organizations, on the other hand.

How to ADVANCE Our Money in Haiti

And some additional important and relevant words by Bello (from about one year later):

Two Years Later — Reimagining Haiti

see also Femmes en Democratie

Development in women’s position in Afghanistan

There’s a pretty horrendous story come out about a child bride, Sahar Gul (aged 15), in Afghanistan being tortured by her new in-laws in order to get her to become a prostitute. You can find the article here, but note there are some very unpleasant pics and scenes described.

The reason this is noteworthy is that this story occurred in an Afghan paper and Afghan people were apparently outraged.

From the article:

The case highlights both the problems and the progress of women 10 years after the Taliban’s fall. Gul’s egregious wounds and underage wedlock are a reminder that girls and women still suffer shocking abuse. But the public outrage and the government’s response to it also show that the country is slowly changing.

And though things are improving a bit,

Still, for every improvement, there are other signs of women’s continued misery. The U.N. says more than half of Afghanistan’s female prison population is made up of women sentenced by local courts for fleeing their marriages — the charge is often phrased as “intent to commit adultery,” even though that’s not a crime under Afghan law. And the U.N. women’s agency UNIFEM estimates that half of all girls are forced to marry under age 15, even though the legal marriage age is 16.

I do think it is sort of hopeful that the outing of this story caused an outrage in Afghanistan. I hope Sahar is going to be ok, despite this extremely traumatic experience, and I hope that because of her, a lot of other kids are going to be more ok than they would have been otherwise.

Thanks @AllenStairs for sharing

Patriarchy

Suppose you organise society so that only men are allowed to work outside the home. Women are confined inside to be childrearers and housekeepers. Since women cannot work, their chances for survival depend on being supported first by their parents, and then a husband. Parents must pay for a man to take their daughter off their hands. Suppose also that there is no welfare system, so parents must rely on their children to support them in their old age. If you were a parent, you’d inevitably prefer a son, who would receive a dowry when he marries, and take care of you when you’re too old to work. Daughters are of no use to you, and a drain on your already meagre resources. It would be no surprise if you aborted/killed any baby girls. Others take the same line as you, and so the ratio of men to women becomes skewed. Now what happens when your son(s) try to find a wife? There aren’t enough women to go round. So what should one do? There are various solutions. You could arrange a wife for one son, who will then be shared amongst many brothers. Or you could kidnap a woman to be a wife for your son(s). Or you could buy a kidnapped woman, sometimes at an open auction. Since women are viewed as inferior beings in your society – you killed your baby girls, remember? – the women shared and bought will be yours to treat as possessions. Welcome to rural India.

More from Al Jazeera.