Monday, 22 August 2011

Why it's Diallo, not Strauss-Kahn, who has been on trial

At time of writing, it looks like the sexual assault case against former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is about to collapse. He is set to return to French politics (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/22/dominique-strauss-kahn-return-politics) whilst his alleged victim, Nafissatou Diallo, will join the long, long line of women who have reported rape or sexual assault, and never seen their case tried in court.

Since his arrest three months ago in May, we have been treated to a series of bizarre articles about whether the French are more relaxed about 'adultery' (as opposed to sexual assault). We've heard plenty of conspiracy theories about whether Diallo was a honey trap, a plot by his political enemies to destroy him. But most of all we have seen lengthy articles that have set out to discredit and destroy Diallo's version of events.

Now the case against Strauss-Kahn is collapsing, with Diallo accused of being an unreliable witness who lacks credibility. The official reason? She lied on her asylum application to enter America. However, this is just the official version of the many, many suggestions that have been put forward by the press and DSK apologisers in an effort to discredit her.  These include that she didn't inform immigration that she had gone through female genital mutilation, that she knows 'dodgy people' including some people who are in prison, and that she was trying to extort money from DSK.

Meanwhile, according to the law, DSK's history of 'sexual misconduct' cannot be discussed. Whilst Diallo's history is raked through the mud, previous accusations against DSK cannot be spoken of. I don't necessarily think that previous accusations should be brought up in court, but I think if we have that rule for the defendant, then we need that rule for the accuser too. Because the question to me now is, who is really on trial here?

The cornerstone of the justice system is innocent until proven guilty. This means that neither me, you nor the editor of the Daily Mail knows or can judge if DSK is guilty. But it also means that we cannot know or judge whether Diallo was lying about sexual assault. And it is this that has been forgotten, both in the reporting on this case, the Assange case and almost every single incident of sexual assault and rape that I have ever heard of. The emphasis is never on the alleged perpetrator. Instead, the woman is on trial. The woman is accused. The woman is assumed to be guilty, before proven innocent.

Forensic evidence tells us that sexual contact occurred on the night of the alleged assault. Diallo was reported to be distressed and upset in the aftermath of the alleged assault. She took the brave step of reporting to the police. The speculation that she had made up the assault in order to extort money from DSK was later proven untrue, when an accurate translation of the phone call was released. In the phone call she explained to her friend that DSK was rich and powerful (which he is), and later on in the conversation she assured her friend that she knew what she was doing in terms of going to the police and finding a lawyer. There was evidence enough to charge him. So surely, for real justice to be served, this case should go to trial. DSK should answer those charges in court. He should defend himself from charges of sexual assault. Diallo should not have to defend herself from accusations that she lied.

Diallo's lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, has this weekend criticised the prosecutor's office, saying:

“[this] is consistent with the unfair way the Manhattan district attorney's office has treated Ms Diallo throughout this process. It's as if she is the defendant and Strauss-Kahn is the victim."

This is not surprising in the rape culture we live in. After all, we're used to this. We're used to reading articles that paint the alleged perpetrators of sexual assault as the victims of 'lying' women. We're used to the cry that a rape accusation can ruin lives, whilst the life-ruining impact of rape is silenced. I'm sure being falsely accused of rape is awful. But, unlike the mainstream media coverage, it is a lot rarer than rape. And lets not forget that even men found guilty of rape do not necessarily find their lives ruined. After all, Mike Tyson is a movie star. Polanski is a hero. DSK is likely to be welcomed home to French politics by Francois Hollande, his wife at his side, two pending accusations and all.

Diallo is said to have lied about rape on her asylum application. Although I don't condone lying about rape, I think perhaps we can attempt to try and understand the desperate circumstances she was in, trying to flee her home country to forge a life away from the horrors of a war that has ravaged her home. And although I don't condone this lie, we need to remember one very, very important thing. A woman who has lied in the past can still be raped. A woman who has dodgy friends can still be raped. A man can still rape a woman who has lied. A man can still rape a woman who has dodgy friends. And if a man is accused of, and charged with, sexually assaulting a woman, and there is evidence to suggest sexual contact took place, and the accusation that she was trying to extort money has been shown to be untrue, then that man should face trial and he should be found guilty or innocent in court. And that woman should not be found guilty in the 'court of popular opinion'. That woman should not be treated as a criminal by the justice system and the media. Because, just like DSK, she is innocent until proven guilty. And unless DSK takes her to court over a false accusation, I doubt very much she will be proven guilty.

When I last wrote about this issue, I was accused by a commenter on my blog of 'not understanding how the world works'. He said that I didn't understand that this was likely to be about 'greater forces' trying to destroy DSK's career and reputation.

So let me lay it on the line. This is how the world works. One in three women will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. Most of the men who commit that crime will get away with it.

*update*

I would really really recommend reading Hadley Freeman's post on this case on Comment is Free http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/23/dsk-trial-accuser-not-accused

*update*

As a result of the lengthy discussion in the comments section, here are some sources on stats.

1.
Fact #32: Globally, at least one in three women and girls is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. (UN Commission on the Status of Women, 2/28/00)

From: http://www.feminist.com/antiviolence/facts.html

See also:

http://oneinthreewomen.com/

http://www.rape.co.za/index2.php?do_pdf=1&id=875&option=com_content

http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/Resources/violence_against_women

http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/violence_against_women/facts_figures.php

2. Rape conviction and reporting rates: http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/crime-prevention/latest-crime-statistics
False accusation stats: Fawcett Society report on 'Rape: The Facts'
Rape rate stats: Fawcett Society report on 'Rape: The Facts' and the BCS figures cited here: http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2010/11/29/rape-statistics-what-can-we-rely-on/




 More on DSK by me: http://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com/2011/07/media-reporting-on-rape-daily-mail-and.html

Sources for news and quotes:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/21/dominique-strauss-kahn-charges

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/01/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-close-collapse-new-york-times?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/01/timeline-strauss-kahn-case?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487


86 comments:

Iain Barnett said...

Ok, aside from the assertions you give that "One in three women will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes." and "Most of the men who commit that crime will get away with it." without giving any references to back that up (even Wikipedia has references, come on), you've got several problems with your argument.

1) We'll start with an easy one: "I'm sure being falsely accused of rape is awful. But, unlike the mainstream media coverage, it is a lot rarer than rape."

Is it? Again, no evidence is given for this, just an assumption. It is _possible_ that every single accusation is false. I'm not saying it is, just pointing out that since it is possible then it is also possible that there are more false accusations than reals, hence, the need for evidence or a reference to a study... arguments aren't made stronger by assumption.

2) "And lets not forget that even men found guilty of rape do not necessarily find their lives ruined." - the same is true of women, and they don't even need to millionaires or celebrities for this to be true, so it makes your cherry picking of a list of men that haven't had their lives ruined look incredibly biased. Arguments aren't made stronger by choosing the facts in an overtly biased way to suit your point.

3) The most important point: "but I think if we have that rule for the defendant, then we need that rule for the accuser too."

Wow. So anyone can accuse someone else of something and not have their background/intentions investigated? You do realise why an accuser has historically needed to make their accusation in public? (for all accusations, not just rape) There are so many good reasons for this it feels ridiculous to even have to argue it, but I will because you've obviously decided to ignore these due to bias.

The biggest is, the accuser gets their name/life dragged through the mud. The accused gets their name/life dragged through the mud, _and_ they get taken to court, _and_ they may get sent to prison, _and_ they subsequently get a criminal record _and_ added to a list of sexual offenders which in several countries has far ranging consequences... the list goes on. So it's not a fair comparison. But your suggestion has bigger implications for criminal justice than that, and I suggest you look into them.

If, conversely, more effort was put into prosecuting those women that do make false accusations it not only would be fairer, but it would also make the truthful accusations appear stronger and probably leading to more successful prosecutions of rapists.

There's no way I'd condone rape, but to come up with a weak and biased argument is not the way to sort things out, IMO.

sian and crooked rib said...

Hello mr 'i don't condone rape'.

So was writing this to a deadline and a word limit hence some of the gaps in the post.

First up these are some sources of the stats:

Rape conviction and reporting rates: http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/crime-prevention/latest-crime-statistics
False accusation stats: Fawcett Society report on 'Rape: The Facts'
Rape rate stats: Fawcett Society report on 'Rape: The Facts' and the BCS figures cited here: http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2010/11/29/rape-statistics-what-can-we-rely-on/

So, firstly we have the Home Office and BCS stat and the stat that all feminists know that 100,000 women will be raped each year in the UK.

According to the BCS and the Fawcett Society, the rate of false accusations is 3-5%. Therefore we categorically DO know that rape is far far more common than false accusations of rape. That deals with that. There is plenty of evidence for this from crime stats.

Sticking to the UK, 100,000 women will be raped each year. Given that the conviction rate is 6.5% (from reporting to rape conviction) and the false accusation rate is 3-5%, that means the vast, vast majority of men who rape women get away with it. Which deals with that.

In terms of cherry picking men who have gone on to be lauded in spite of rape convictions, this was just to give an example of how rape culture works. A man can rape a woman and be a cult movie star post jail. A man can rape a child and win an Oscar. Clearly I am not going to give an example of every man ever but other men who have been violent against women and are heroes include Mailer and TuPac.

No, i don't think its right that a case against an alleged rape or sexual assault victim is dropped because of something she did in her past. The fact that things have happened in her past does not shield her from rape later. I think if we are supposed to ignore that a man has a history of sexual assault, then we should also ignore that his alleged victim has a history of hanging out with 'dodgy' people. It has no bearing on the case. Knowing dodgy people doesn't stop you being raped.

part 2 coming up...

sian and crooked rib said...

Part 2:

You say:
'he accused gets their name/life dragged through the mud, _and_ they get taken to court, _and_ they may get sent to prison, _and_ they subsequently get a criminal record _and_ added to a list of sexual offenders which in several countries has far ranging consequences... the list goes on. '

Yeah - if they raped someone. If they raped someone they should have their reputation dragged through the mud and they should go to court and they should go to prison. Are you seriously suggesting that if someone rapes someone then they shouldn't be punished? Are you saying a victim of a serious and violent crime should be treated like a criminal?

Plenty of effort is put into putting women into prison who it is believed have made false accusations. Women have been sent to prison for false accusations even when the evidence is all there to say she has been raped (http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/aug/12/layla-jailed-after-reporting-sexual-assault) and some women are jailed for falsely retracting an allegation of rape EVEN IF THEY HAVE BEEN RAPED (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/dec/17/retracted-rape-allegations-conviction-challenge).

More effort needs to be given in arresting, charging and punishing rapists. More effort needs to be given to supporting victims and survivors, instead of cutting funding for rape crisis.

You tell me to quote evidence and yet you have given no links, stats or numbers to back up your ignorant claims. You say you do not condone rape but instead of focusing on what rape does to a woman, what rape is and what rape means, you have gone on about how men are victims of lying women.

I am sick of rape apologists. Finally, i direct you to this blog which will explain rape culture to you:
http://raytherah.blogspot.com/2011/08/rape-culture-101-for-unsure.html

It's so boring. Have heard all these boring boring excuses before. take notice to what is happening to women all across the globe. pay attention to the violence committed to women every day. 2,000 women in the UK will be raped this week alone. Notice it!

JENNIFER DREW said...

Thanks Sian for debunking another male rape apologist's claims. The biggest myth male supremacy created is the claim male sexual violence against women are just isolated incidents!

I've yet to hear of any man's life being ruined because he was charged with committing sexual violence against a woman/girl but I happen to know many women and girls who have been subjected to male sexual violence and no they didn't 'get over it.' They continue to deal with the aftermath of men's belief they are entitled to have sexual access to any female.

And no - men are not subjected to rape in equal numbers to women. Male on male adult rape is rare compared to male on female rape. The chances of an adult male being raped by another adult male are miniscule compared to the chances an adult male will rape an adult female.

Iain Barnett said...

Thanks for putting in the links, it makes the article a lot better. The excuse about a deadline is a bit shit, but at least they're there now.

However, you seem to be confused on a point, and that is - to point out the flaws in another person's view is not the same as giving a view of your own.

I haven't given you my views on rape or the case, only on your article which, as I said, was lacking in references (which you corrected), and I didn't find the rationale very good. You're the one who gave a position, not me.

Also, if you will use ad hominem/straw men arguments, again, it doesn't make your position look so strong. There's really no need for it. Since you suggest I read about rape culture I in turn suggest you read about logical fallacies.

I am slightly frustrated that you've decided to be as rude as you have been, especially considering you leave a list on the side of your site reminding commenters to be respectful. I'm not a rape apologist (you don't actually know what my view is, you assume because I decided to argue with portions of your article) but I can't do anything but hope you take a look at your own attitude.

Regards,
"Mr I don't condone rape" ;)

Marina S said...

"Is it? Again, no evidence is given for this, just an assumption."

The facts that Sian talks about are sufficiently well known among those interested in the issues to not require a specific link in every article written about them, a bit like climate change, evolution and the roundness of the earth.

Your so-called challenge to Sian either exposes you as insufficiently well informed to allow yourself an opinion, or is indicative of bad-faith denialist tactics, using "zombie arguments" to stall and derail a discussion. Or, you know, both.

Personally, I don't consider your above question worthy of engagement in a world in which Google and Wikipedia exist. I hope you at least appreciate Sian's forbearance here.

Forty Shades Of Grey said...

Bloody good post Sian, and I agree with you. It's boring to write something and have some smart-arsed, invariably male, wanker pop up with a bit of patronising 'what about teh menz?' rhetoric. Seems to me that since rape conviction stats are so WIDELY AVAILABLE and we spend half our time talking about how disgusting it is to only have a 6% conviction rate, that it doesn't need to be linked to each bloody time, just to pander to men who appear to think that Googling something is beyond their delicate and sensitive abilities.

Iain - firstly, dear, learn what an ad hominem attack is. Sian never used one. Don't come running in shouting "BUT LOGICAL FALLACIES!!!" and flailing all over the place if YOU can't produce evidence to back it up. Secondly, your sneering and patronising tone is a bit fucking rich. You seem to be under the impression that Sian is wrong because she's angry. NEWSFLASH, DICKHEAD: The world is not here to serve you and you alone. Sian is right to be angry because, if you couldn't fucking tell from her post, SHE'S SICK OF WOMEN BEING THE ONES PUT ON TRIAL IF THEY'RE VICTIMS OF RAPE. No one is under any obligation to be calm when discussing such triggering things. Sorry I had to break it to you like that, sunshine. Thirdly, one reason (I think) that male rape victims don't get discussed in posts like this is BECAUSE IF THEY SPEAK OUT THEY DON'T GET ASKED WHAT THEY WERE WEARING OR IF THEY WERE DRUNK OR IF THEY'D EVER TOLD A LIE IN THEIR LIFE.

Finally, Sian asks people to be respectful in comments so, I dunno, rape-apologist arseholes don't come blustering in accusing her of lying for not linking to widely known facts then shrieking "AD HOM! AD HOM!" when they are corrected and called out for being, in fact, rape-apologist arseholes.

Sorry if that got a bit sweary Sian, but I have zero patience for men telling me/us how to frame arguments so they will deign to listen to us. "Oh yeah, well 2000 women are raped a week, but YOU didn't speak to me respectfully so I don't give a shit". GIVE. ME. A. FUCKING. BREAK.

Iain Barnett said...

I see you've decided not to engage here, but via your twitter feed. A tad unfair I think, but anyway:

1) "oh fuck off mansplainers. don't tell me i've been rude to you, and then tell me my 'excuse' of a deadline is 'shit'." - how are the two things contradictory, and how is your excuse of a deadline not shit? It wouldn't be a good excuse anywhere. And more ad hominem?

2) I wasn't saying that all claims of rape are false. As with techniques like proof by contradiction and reductio ad absurdum, to examine the logic of a statement from an opposing point is not to express a view one way or the other about it.

If you disagree with my comments, fair enough, but you started your response with ad hominem and then descended into assumption and, yes, rudeness. Your tweets confirm that really, don't they.

Check out those logical fallacies though, they'll help, perhaps start with the law of the excluded middle, the one that leads to thinking that those who show disagreement are equivalent to other groups that disagree i.e.

Terrorists are against the government.
The opposition party is against the government.
Therefore the opposition party are terrorists.

It's easy to see how you've used that with men/rapists/apologists (sic)/people who point out that they don't like your article's reasoning.

I'll leave you be now as I can see I won't get a reasoned response.

Regards,
"Mansplainer" ;)

sian and crooked rib said...

Iain, i use twitter to vent sometimes. and you said:

'It is _possible_ that every single accusation is false.;'

So i said that you said is is possible that all accusations of rape are false.

I don't know what ad honimen means.

sian and crooked rib said...

I just wonder, is it so much to ask, to write a blog about how women are treated in rape cases, to write a blog about how 2,000 women a week are raped in the UK and 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted across the globe and get a response like 'that is really awful. what can we do to try and tackle rape culture? what can we do to educate men and women about violence? what can we do to ensure women don't have to live in fear of violence? what can we do to make the world better for women and men'

These are the questions i ask when confronted with the stats. When i heard about this case i wanted to know what we can do to ensure that we end a culture of rape myths so that alleged victims of rape and sexual assault aren't automatically assumed to be liars, so that the fact they may have told a lie in the past would not suppose that they cannot get justice for rape later on in life.

Hadley Freeman said today:
'What has been proved, on an international scale, is that only women who have led lives as sheltered as Rapunzel and have memory recall as robotic as computers are capable of being raped. The rest are money- grabbing sluts with vaginal bruising.'

I don't understand how people can be confronted with the huge injustice, the human rights crisis that is violence against women and girls, the femicide and from there jump to this:

'Again, no evidence is given for this, just an assumption. It is _possible_ that every single accusation is false.'

with no stats provided to back up this suggestion.

And this:

'he accused gets their name/life dragged through the mud, _and_ they get taken to court, _and_ they may get sent to prison, _and_ they subsequently get a criminal record _and_ added to a list of sexual offenders which in several countries has far ranging consequences... the list goes on. '

And this:

'If, conversely, more effort was put into prosecuting those women that do make false accusations it not only would be fairer, but it would also make the truthful accusations appear stronger and probably leading to more successful prosecutions of rapists.'

It's just so sad. Violence against women and girls isn't something to have a rhetorical argument about. It is happening all around us.

Marina S said...

"I don't know what ad honimen means."

It's OK, neither does Ian.

Iain Barnett said...

@Marina - I can understand your point (taking out the bit about zombie attacks etc) that references may be unneeded. But, as you state, Google and Wikipedia make finding such information quick and easy and by extension they make citing references easy too. Without the references my points relating to lack of references are valid. With the references then perhaps less so (at least they can be debated properly now).

That I adhere to certain well known standards in debate - such as using references, not using ad hominem (or not thinking it means something other than starting to lose an argument), allowing (or expecting) a view to be examined without drawing assumptions about the views that the examiner holds - is my choice. If you don't wish to hold to them, that's fine but you can't expect me to just agree with things on force of emotion of how strongly they are stated.

I also expect references for articles on evolution and climate change, but not on whether the Earth is flat or not.

I do wonder what is the point of writing a blog and then engaging with those who you deem to disagree with you in such an aggressive manner. Surely you would wish to convince people of your view? I don't consider it to be forbearance either - did you see the twitter feed? "Fuck off..." isn't the start of a statement of forbearance ;)

And I hold to what I said, that the excuse was a bit shit. It really is, especially so when done like that. Classic! :D

My overarching point stands, I don't believe a poor argument helps, and I thought it was a poor argument.

Iain Barnett said...

@Forty Shades... I think your post is the best example of ad hominem I could've asked for. Is it some kind of ironic statement?

Either way it was kind of funny.

Iain Barnett said...

@sian "what can we do to make the world better for women and men'

That's my point. I don't believe that having a bad argument will help improve this situation. I also don't believe mistaking an examination of views for an expression of an opposing view is going to help.

Perhaps my first comment wasn't clear enough, but much like the way that you don't feel the need to post references, I don't feel the need to explain that debating something important should require deep examination and use the appropriate tools.

I'd have much rather got on to the ramifications of your ideas to the legal system, but that is obviously not going to happen while people keep banging on about me saying that all women are liars, which I definitely did not.

I'll just chalk it down to experience.

sian and crooked rib said...

Iain:

'I do wonder what is the point of writing a blog and then engaging with those who you deem to disagree with you in such an aggressive manner. Surely you would wish to convince people of your view? '

TBH, most people who have engaged with this blog either on Facebook, Google +, Twitter, offline and in the comments, and the people who published it elsewhere, have been convinced by my argument.

It's you who wasn't convinced.

Regular readers of my blog will have read plenty of posts where i cite those stats and give the links.

I have also received lots of tweets and comments that believe you to have been rude. Rather than me.

You think it is a poor argument. Whether this is because its 'ad hominem' or because i didn't provide citations or because you simply don't believe that alleged victims of rape are put on trial before (and often during) the case going to court i'm not sure.

I write this blog for me. You can disagree with it if you like. That's fine. But i do wonder when people disagree with factual statements such as rape is more common than false accusations of rape (as shown by crime stats).

Iain Barnett said...

@sian - "But i do wonder when people disagree with factual statements such as rape is more common than false accusations of rape (as shown by crime stats). "

How can I disagree with crime stats you hadn't given? Maybe it's easier for you to understand that until you give the stats then your statement is arguable, which is why I pointed out the lack thereof?

Marina S said...

"Without the references my points relating to lack of references are valid."

Wrong, sunshine. Without references to something that every decent person should know before engaging in rape apologism, you're not a decent person.

By which I mean to say, we're done here, mmkay?

Ryan Deschamps said...

I just wanted to point out that the ministry of truth article appears to contradict, or at least draw question to the Fawcett society statistics. The article highlights how difficult it actually is to get accurate statistics on rape, and provides an annual victimization rate of 1 victims out of 1000 people. With no duplication year-to-year, women would have to live well over 300 years to make it up to the 1/3 statistic previously mentioned.

Another confusing piece is that some countries categorize rape with 'sexual assault' for which we can get pretty close to a 1-in-4 or 1-in-3 setting. While still a crime, there is a considerable difference between a rape and an unwanted grope, for instance.

Finally, the Fawcett society is an advocacy group with an interest in using the statistics most favorable to their cause. I would like to see more articles on this topic actually, particularly something cited in a reputable sociology/criminology journal to be completely convinced of the 1-in-3.

sian and crooked rib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Iain Barnett said...

@Marina, there's a difference between what is valid and what is correct. The logic of a statement depends on its premises, and here, until references were given then it is arguable. That doesn't mean that any of those statements were correct or incorrect - _that was the point_, highlighting the weakness of the argument without references!

Sheesh.

And btw, calling me a rape apologist is an example of ad hominem. See, I do know what it is :p You might want to look up logical fallacies too, something anyone should know before engaging in a debate ;)

sian and crooked rib said...

Hi Ryan

I think it's important to include a range of stat sources, hence the inclusion of the Ministry of Truth link and the Fawcett Society.

In terms of the 1 in 3 stat, this is a global stat and as you say includes sexual assault and rape, not just rape.

Thie We are Equals site is a great resource for facts about violence against women and the vid is definitely worth watching.

http://www.weareequals.org/

Lucy Jones said...

Excellent post, Sian. Plain and simple: when women are the victim of rape, the first thing to be questioned is often whether the woman is a victim.

sian and crooked rib said...

thanks Lucy!

MediumRob said...

First, the article is excellent and its points valid.

Second, whether it's 1/3 or 1/4 women is irrelevant and the debate here is largely a sign that a certain kind of person on the Internet prefers everything to be entirely intellectually rigorous in its own right, as though it's still CERN in 1991 and Google doesn't exist.

This is a blog, not a peer-reviewed journal and hyperlinking to every single source would be ridiculous for Sian. It's not like she gets paid for it - it's a labour of love, I suspect.

Equally, on a feminist blog, it might be worth using the search engine on it to see if those sources had been quoted in previous articles, rather than requiring laborious repetition on each and every blog entry.

And referring to remote possibilities as somehow disproving an argument because they exist (hey, guys, we could all be disembodied brains plugged into tanks in the Matrix and so rape doesn't actually exist so why are we all getting worked up about it? Had you considered that possibility? Ha, then you're wrong!), rather than because they are likely isn't exactly helpful.

In other words, quibble if you want, but why waste the energy on it just to have an entirely eye-wateringly, water-tight argument when you could be spending the same amount of time donating £15 to Eaves instead, say?

http://www.eaves4women.co.uk/index.php

Nicola said...

@Iain Barnett

Returning to your original post . . .

1) The evidence for this has now been provided by Sian. So now we know that Sian's original argument is correct. Being falsely accused of rape is, in fact, a lot rarer than rape.

2) What do you mean "the same is true for women" ? When a man is found guilty of rape the victim's life is not ruined? Or when a woman is found guilty of rape then her life is not ruined?

The use of examples here was to demonstrate the pervasive rape culture which allows men who are well-known in our culture who have been convicted of rape to continue to lead successful lives unaffected by their guilty conviction.

If you are referring to women victims of rape not having their lives ruined then where is your evidence?

And if you are referring to women guilty of rape not having their lives ruined, again, please provide some evidence.

3) Your assertion is not logical: "The biggest is, the accuser gets their name/life dragged through the mud. The accused gets their name/life dragged through the mud, _and_ they get taken to court, _and_ they may get sent to prison, _and_ they subsequently get a criminal record _and_ added to a list of sexual offenders which in several countries has far ranging consequences... the list goes on. So it's not a fair comparison."

You start by talking of someone ACCUSED of rape but then treat them as someone found guilty and convicted of rape (sent to prison, criminal record, added to a list of sexual offenders).

By your using an example of a guilty person then we can assume the accuser is a "real" victim.

So by your own argument you seem to suggest that a victim of rape should be treated in a worse way by our culture (including both the media and the criminal justice system) than a convicted rapist. This is not a logical argument.

Would our culture treat someone who had their house burgled the same as our culture treats the burgler? Is the headline more likely to say "WOMAN INVITES HOUSE ROBBERY BY FAILING TO LOCK SECOND-STOREY WINDOW" or is it more likely to say "MAN CONVICTED OF BURGLING HOME"?

Even looking at the recent riots, the looters (accused looters -- not specific participants who have been found guilty in a court of law) are described by our Prime Minister as "sick". The shop keepers have not been accused of failing to take measures to secure their premises properly, have CCTV installed, investigated for how many times in the past they have been robbed... Are they pretending to have been looted in order to benefit from insurance money? Or falsely claiming to have been looted to benefit from the newly introduced "High Street Fund"? Why aren't these questions being asked? (Not that I necessarily think they should be asked... just trying to demonstrate how victims of rape are treated so differently in our culture than victims of other crimes).

**

Anyway, continuuing to say that Sian's argument isn't "logical" or doesn't have enough "references" (even AFTER she supplied the necessary references) makes your own argument look weak because you've failed to actually argue anything. Just saying that everyone else isn't "logical" or is using "ad hominem" only acts as a distraction from the reality that you are not interested in engaging in a meaningful way.

As Sian says, we should be asking WHAT CAN WE DO TO TRY TO TACKLE RAPE CULTURE?

Iain Barnett said...

@MediumRob and the rest

"And referring to remote possibilities as somehow disproving an argument because they exist (hey, guys, we could all be disembodied brains plugged into tanks in the Matrix and so rape doesn't actually exist so why are we all getting worked up about it? Had you considered that possibility? Ha, then you're wrong!), rather than because they are likely isn't exactly helpful."

Are people here deliberately misreading what I wrote, or just unable to follow 2 simple points?

I'll write it here again for you so you can all understand:

1. If an argument is weak then it is unhelpful.
2. Pointing out the weakness of an argument does not mean someone disagrees with the ideas behind it (or conversely agrees)

What I'd like to see is a strong argument with good reasoning. That won't include something without references, pure a simple. It's not too much to ask. If it's easy for someone to look it up after reading the article then it's easier for the person who wrote it.

Not exactly a brains trust round here is it? NOBODY tried to disprove what Sian wrote using a hypothetical.

Is it bad schooling or a chemical in the water or what?

Maybe Sian could get on to why she thinks two legal principles like the right to question your accuser and not being judged on unproven allegations should be overlooked, and how they could be replaced with something better, and the rest of you could leave this incomprehension alone and I could leave the patronising tone behind? I'd much rather talk about that.

ffs

sian and crooked rib said...

Ok Iain:

'What I'd like to see is a strong argument with good reasoning. That won't include something without references, pure a simple. It's not too much to ask. If it's easy for someone to look it up after reading the article then it's easier for the person who wrote it.'

So now that i have provided those references is my argument now strong?

'Not exactly a brains trust round here is it? NOBODY tried to disprove what Sian wrote using a hypothetical.
Is it bad schooling or a chemical in the water or what?'

Can you please not be rude? It isn't polite to accuse people who disagree with you as stupid, as you (rightly) pointed out earlier.

'Maybe Sian could get on to why she thinks two legal principles like the right to question your accuser and not being judged on unproven allegations should be overlooked, and how they could be replaced with something better,'

I don't know if you're deliberately misinterpreting what I said here or just trying to find an argument where there is none.

Of course a an alleged victim of rape should be asked questions about what allegedly happened. No where did i say this should not be the case or imply that this should not be the case.

But there is a world of difference between askng these questions, and deciding that the case will not be tried because a woman has lied years beforehand. There is a world of difference between asking questions and having an alleged victm tried by media and public opinion, and being found guilty by media and public opinion. And there is a world of difference between asking these questions and deciding that an alleged victim is guilty of falsely accusing a man of rape, even when she has not been charged, tried and found guilty in court.

As i said in this post and other posts, innocent before proven guilty applies to both the accused and the alleged victim. We cannot know whether DSK is guilty or not. We cannot know either if he is innocent or not. There has been no trial so we just don't know! What we do know is that despite two allegations in a few months and a history of sexual harassment, he is being welcomed back into politics.

This post was about whether it was right or just for a case to be dropped when there was evidence to take it to trial, based on the fact that an alleged victim of rape had lied in her past. I don't believe this was fair or right. On my own blog I can air this opinion.

This post is about innocent until proven guilty of false accusations: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/27/strauss-khan-diallo-accused-accuser

Iain Barnett said...

@Nicola - thanks for asking a reasonable set of questions.

1) cool, I'm glad they were provided, and I said so.

2) My point was essentially that picking people who are in a position where very bad things can happen to them and their lives continue to a degree that, on the outside at least, appears good, like millionaires and celebrities, isn't a convincing argument. To clarify exactly, even though rape is also an awful thing it does not necessarily ruin a life either, as there are female celebrities who say they were raped who's lives were appearing to go well even after the rape. I wouldn't use that argue with them so why with male celebrities? It's too easy to attack. It would be stronger if it showed that it affected "normal" people in only a small way.

There is, of course, the argument about have done your time/punishment.

3) The assertion is logical, (forgive me for being slightly pedantic after other responses) because it doesn't rest on being accused/convicted but on being accuser/accused. The contrast is between the risks/consequences for each of those.

It is your assertion that the accuser is treated worse and the accused better, not mine, and I don't hold to your conclusion from that either, but it can be discussed.

After Sian supplied the references I quite clearly stated that it helped.

I did not say that what she wrote was not "logical" (your quotes) and the references to logical fallacies were primarily to do with ad hominem i.e. calling me a rape apologist. That's not only a bad argument but a slight. It's rude and uncalled for. It also appears to stem from another logical fallacy, as I stated. That doesn't make the original article illogical and it doesn't mean I stated that.

So to the most important thing you asked, how to tackle rape culture? No 1, as I've banged on about now for too long is to make sure you have a good argument.

I'd also propose a move to a responsibility based model, like the one a lot of German law is based on. I think that would nullify defences of "but she was drunk" or "wearing a mini skirt" etc, and would encourage police/councils/other authorities to consider their input in these matters.

But who would be interested in the views of a rape apologist? ;)

Iain Barnett said...

"Can you please not be rude? It isn't polite to accuse people who disagree with you as stupid, as you (rightly) pointed out earlier. "

You did start this by saying I was a rape apologist, did you not?

Glass houses and all that. It's your blog, you set the tone - I didn't make a personal slight against you, I criticised your argument. That's not in the same ball park. If people wish to continue to be rude to me, then I'll feel free to do it back.

Simples. And no, I still don't think most of your argument is that good.

sian and crooked rib said...

Iain, ok i am sorry i called you a rape apologist. It is that i misunderstood statements such as:

'1) We'll start with an easy one: "I'm sure being falsely accused of rape is awful. But, unlike the mainstream media coverage, it is a lot rarer than rape."

Is it? Again, no evidence is given for this, just an assumption. It is _possible_ that every single accusation is false.'

and:

'The accused gets their name/life dragged through the mud, _and_ they get taken to court, _and_ they may get sent to prison, _and_ they subsequently get a criminal record _and_ added to a list of sexual offenders which in several countries has far ranging consequences... '

and

'There's no way I'd condone rape, but'

I think that one of the issues is that this discussion has veered off 'lets tackle rape culture' and into an argument about how you don't think my argument about rape culture is convincing because i didn't link to the stats in the first instance.

May I ask a simple request? Can we return to the matter in hand? Can we debate the issues that the DSK case has thrown up, around how alleged victims of rape are treated and how this case has shown (in my opinion) that the myth of the 'perfect victim' is alive and well. Can we debate why it is that a woman's history of having told a lie, and knowing dodgy people and not disclosing the fact that she had FGM, and repeated lies in the press, why this is a strong reason to throw out a sexual assault case where there was evidence of vaginal bruising, sexual contact and a woman who was distressed and upset after the incident.

One of the issues that has arisen in this case is that details of her story changed throughout the last few months. Yet, when a woman is raped or assaulted, this is incredibly common, because of the trauma. It can be difficult to relate or recall every detail that happened. Things may come back to you at a later date, memories may be triggered...

There is no guidebook on how to deal with rape and sexual assault, there is no 'correct' way. And yet this seems to be what the prosecution was demanding. They didn't want to consider why details of her story might change, they decided instead to say she was untrustworthy and un-credible.

And there is no such thing as a 'perfect victim'. Women who have told a lie, who have had multiple sexual partners, who have drank alcohol, who have taken drugs, who are poor, or work in low status jobs, who have dodgy friends, who have undergone FGM, who haven't had FGM, who are virgins, these women can still be raped and assaulted. ANd women who are none or have done none of these things can still be raped and sexually assaulted.

This isn't about whether i have got angry in a comments thread and used logical fallacies or made ad hominem attacks. This isn't about whether i was too tired and rushed to link to studies i have linked to a bazillion times before.

This is about the lack of justice for victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault.

This is about low conviction rates, rape myths, rape culture, high level of rapes.

This is not about me.

Ryan Deschamps said...

I think it is a considerable challenge when a system appears to victimize those who are vulnerable. I would relay that those countries that have something other than an 'innocent until proven guilty' court system -- Nigeria and Afghanistan come to mind -- do not exactly show better records in terms of supporting women. The adversarial court system serves neither the criminal nor the victim. That is why, in general, and not for serious rape accusations, I favor the restorative justice process which tends to focus on the harm done and how it can be repaired.

I would also like to say that while a blog is not a journal article, the point of including comments is so that people can contribute. I think clarifying what is or is not a reliable statistic is a perfectly understandable contribution to a blog post. I can understand why such comments may make the poster get defensive and so on. Usually, I find the best way to deal with criticism is merely to thank people for it, and if desired, continue to further contribute to the discussion in other ways. Just because you have a blog does not mean you have to have all the answers. I great blog post encourages contribution and asks more than it promotes.

My personal view is that discussion and understanding are what will, in fact, reduce violence against women (and violence in general). I am not convinced that a flame war is really an indication of true change - it's the peace and understanding that comes after a conflict that actually makes the change. I am effected by VAWG too. If the 1-in-3 stat is even close to true, it makes me want to lock up my kids and put a GPS on my wife (not that she'd ever let me of course). This is not about advocates and rape apologists. It's a community problem and needs to be dealt with collaboratively.

sian and crooked rib said...

Ryan:

'Just because you have a blog does not mean you have to have all the answers.'

I wish i had all the answers! It would make my life a lot easier.

I agree that discussion and collaboration is part of the what will reduce violence against women. But it is only part of it. We also need an end to rape culture, to rape myths and improved justice. The rape conviction rate in the UK is appallingly low, so many men rape and sexually assault and get away with it. This has to change. I believe this will happen with education in schools around consent and respect, an end to victim blaming and an end to an over-emphasis on the idea that women lie about rape or that there is such a thing as the perfect victim.

Women's Aid have created a fantastic pack that can be used in schools to educate around prevention of violence against women and girls.

According to the Home Office, NSPCC and Bristol Uni centre for gender based violence research, teenagers are now the highest risk group for intimate partner violence, and 1 in 3 teen girls will experience IPV as opposed to 1 in 4 adult women. This is not acceptable. This has never happened before!

'If the 1-in-3 stat is even close to true, it makes me want to lock up my kids and put a GPS on my wife (not that she'd ever let me of course). '

The 1 in 3 stat is true.

Fact #32: Globally, at least one in three women and girls is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. (UN Commission on the Status of Women, 2/28/00)

From: http://www.feminist.com/antiviolence/facts.html

See also:

http://oneinthreewomen.com/

http://www.rape.co.za/index2.php?do_pdf=1&id=875&option=com_content

http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/Resources/violence_against_women

http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/violence_against_women/facts_figures.php

ALthough i understand where you're coming from when you joke about putting GPS on your wife, can i just emphasise that (and i appreciate you're joking but some people don't!) that restricting women's freedoms is not the answer when it comes to preventing vawg. It is about stopping the perpetrators of violence. It's about preventing rape. You don't prevent rape by keeping women indoors, you prevent rape by stopping rapists.

Georgie said...

Sian, this is a great post. It's so common for people to immediately doubt the victim in accusations of rape, particularly if the accused is powerful or respected. Every time it's questioned why the alleged victim is being scrutinised, not the alleged perpetrator, people rush to talk about false accusations. They don't think about all the thousands of victims who never see justice because of our flawed system.

"what can we do to try and tackle rape culture? what can we do to educate men and women about violence? what can we do to ensure women don't have to live in fear of violence? what can we do to make the world better for women and men"
These are the important questions. Not quibbling over exact numbers or theoretical possible worlds were women are all liars. These things right here, they're what matters. Well done.

xx

sian and crooked rib said...

Thanks Georgie, agreed!

Paul said...

It's interesting reading the post and the comment trail. It's hard to think of anything that is so divisive between the genders as the accusation of rape. I'm not in any position to make an informed comment in any way, but I'm curious know views on whether the low conviction rates cited are due to differing attitudes between men and women as to what constitutes the boundary of respect that can be so easily crossed, or whether is down to the mechanics of the legal system. Knowing people who've had to endure civil claims and the incredibly underhanded yet entirely legitimate methods used to hamper cases, I can only imagine how difficult it can be to prove a criminal case, particularly on such an emotive subject as this.

And if I've offended anyone with my musings, it's unintentional, so I apologize in advance!

Iain Barnett said...

@sian You certainly did misunderstand what I wrote (the last example ending in "but" really highlights it), and I don't agree with your view of why I came to my judgement, but if that's an apology, I'll take it. At least you have the guts to do it, unlike some others on here.

Going from the general to the DSK case. Obviously, in some cases (I would imagine most but I could be wrong) it will boil down to one person's word against another as there are no witnesses. Then the believability of the accuser becomes paramount, since other evidence may prove inconclusive.

Then there are three legal principles that lead to the kind of situation you outlined - that the accused may be able to cross examine their accuser and other witnesses; that unproved allegations are not allowed as they prejudice the jury; and that justice should be done in public view.

These obviously have some leeway built in, but in general they are very reasonable principles designed to protect the accused and the role of justice. If these aren't working well in the area of rape then they need to be looked at, but it would be difficult not to allow the accused to cross examine their accuser. I don't see a way around that, but if you have a solution to that then put it out there. Otherwise, what protection to the accused can be given?

If you're going to allow unproven allegations then it becomes an infinite regress where several claims can be made and each fails but the likelihood of conviction increases each time. That is not fair and is why that kind of information is rarely allowed to be heard.

If cases are to be kept in public then how can protection be given? If not, then it becomes a worrying issue for several aspects of the accused's human rights, as we've seen with terrorist hearings that are heard in private and where they have limited access to question their accusers.

In the DSK case, as I understand it, it wasn't just that she'd changed her story about the attack, which as you say seems plausible, but that the lie she'd told on her asylum application was a false accusation of gang rape. That doesn't sound good for the believability of an accuser of rape.

I didn't hear anything about vaginal bruising but about semen on her clothes, and that there was no vaginal penetration but oral sex.

If the version I've heard was correct then I don't see how the prosecution could continue, as the high bar for criminal conviction of beyond reasonable doubt would not be attained. It should be noted that it was the prosecution that drew attention to these problems too, though it has been stated (I don't remember where) there was disagreement between the accuser's personal lawyer and the prosecution team.

So, in the specific case you've highlighted, it's difficult to see how you could stop the accuser's life being looked into, or what the justification would be anyway.

The wider issue of whether society and the process of law are failing rape victims aren't really served by looking at this case, afaics. In fact, in my view it would be almost impossible to change the 3 principles of law that led to this and it would be better to look at other areas of how the law works or the process leading up to court in order to increase conviction (in cases that merited it, of course).

Personally, I think changing the view of who is responsible for what would then remove much of the mitigation arguments you've listed. By actually increasing the responsibility of each party (including the victim/accuser) you'd improve things. Unfortunately, in Western culture, I don't think that would happen as the search for blame (and blamelessness for the victim) would make this unpalatable, but ironically, impedes justice IMO.

This is the latest news I read on the case btw http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iRAwxwQ-mDhD_LuanoMzOAukvViA?docId=61fd34f96ec14d8bb54286c9a3df5cf4

Artemis said...

Excellent post again Sian. I have always said that it is effectively legal to rape people who can't adequately speak up for themselves; to this you have added that it is also effectively for some powerful people to rape, as long as they choose the victim carefully enough.

sian and crooked rib said...

Hi GherkinGirl

Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry that happened to you.

I agree with everything you say in your post. It feels that with rape, the emphasis becomes not on trying to find out whether a rape happened, but on trying to prove that the alleged victim is lying/making it up. The emphasis switches from trying to prove on crime to trying to discredit women. Patriarchy eh?

This is what happened with the DSK case. All the effort from the press, the prosecution became about HER, the inconsistencies in her account (as i say, completely normal after a sexual assault and rape), her past, her previous lies, the fact she was not a 'perfect victim'.

Eventually someone brings up the 'it's her word against his' element as has happened on this blog.

Most crimes can be boiled down to that. A mugging, a fight - he hit me, no i didn't. We rely on forensic evidence and testimonies to ensure that justice happens.

In the DSK case, she said he assaulted her, he said he didn't. So we look at the forensic evidence. We look at the semen, the bruising, the trauma. We listen to the people involved. They obviously thought they had a case, or it would have never have got this far. In a criminal case, we should look at the evidence. We shouldn't listen to gossip, press lies, and judge women as guilty of a criem they haven't been accused of, because of incidents years and years ago.

Iain Barnett said...

@gherkin - that is terrible, you have my sympathies.

@sian and @gherkin - did Strauss Kahn deny having sex with Diallo? I'd not heard that.

"I think there's quite a lot of external evidence in the DSK case. I mean semen on the wall and on her clothes? And yet every single article I've seen (bar Hadley Freeman recently) is trying to think of another 'logical' explanation of why that might be. They are reaching for everything but rape (and please remember forced oral sex is rape) and coming up with ridiculous things are just mind boggling. It'd be funny if it wasn't so serious."

That's a strange point to make, I think. The presence of semen indicates sexual contact, which is why it is only an indicator of rape if the man says there was no sexual contact (it questions his believability).

That it's on a wall or clothes seems totally irrelevant. I'm surprised that anyone (even those who'd never had sex with a man) would be unaware that semen ends up in all sorts of places. It shoots out, quite a long way if allowed to.

If there is other evidence then it should be used, especially if it creates a distinction between what is forced and what is consensual, because that is the cruz of the case, no? Semen does neither, in any place,(unless in circumstances given already). Bruising would carry more credence, obviously, but can still be explained away to a degree, which is why the believability of the accuser is so important.

It also seems strange to equate the way you should consider a problem via its "seriousness" and not via "logical explanation" - surely the more serious it is the more thorough you should be?

There also seems to have been a conflation in some comments of the police and the court system, and yet the police in the DSK case appear to have done their job. They're two fairly separate (yet obviously linked) processes, and to mash them together won't help find a problem with either.

The DSK case seems a strange case study to pick if you're going to highlight problems with the way rape cases are handled. Surely there are better ones (in terms of their exposure of problems with the system) you could've chosen?

sian and crooked rib said...

Hi Iain

There are plenty of other posts on my blog exploring the issues of violence against women and girls and the problems with low conviction rates/lack of support services for survivors and victims.

I focus on the DSK case here because it is in the news.

sian and crooked rib said...

Considering what we know about rape and sexual assault, and rape and sexual assault cases, the likelihood that the woman is lying is very small.

This is because we know that:

In the UK 100,000 women get raped every year. In the USA, 1 in 3 women will be raped (please see links at end of original blogpost)

IN the UK, the rape conviction rate is 6.5%.

In the UK, the false accusation rate is 3-5%.

We know these things. We know that women are raped every day and we know that most of the perpetrators get away with it. When we look at this case, we see the woman being ripped apart, accused of all sorts of things, disbelieved, treated like a criminal even though she has not been accused or charged with any crime.

Hadley Freeman says:
'None of these lies, though, had anything to do with her version of what happened in room 2806 in the Sofitel, a version that has been backed up by forensic evidence...
anyway, her actions since suggest she is the world's worst blackmailer. When she waived her right to anonymity, she not only gave the defence more material to mine for inconsistencies but gained no money and risked – heck, guaranteed – damaging her personal reputation and employment prospects for life. Moreover, she sure won't be able to try that ol' rape accusation trick on any other unsuspecting man. She did not think this plan through.'

What Hadley says here, what i say, is that women don't tend to lie about rape. We know this to be true. The collapsing of this case, i believe, has happened because people believe that women lie about rape, and people believe that women with a 'past' can't be raped/don't deserve justice. Because people believe that women who are asleep can't be raped, that women who are drunk can't be raped, that women can't be raped by people they know. Because they believe international conspiracies to bring down powerful men are more common than rape. they believe rape is about desire not power. they believe all sorts of things but they don't believe that actually a lot of men rape women and get away with it.

When we destroy these rape myths, when we believe women and trust women and listen to women, when the immediate reaction isn't to assume women lie - then we will have real justice.

sian and crooked rib said...

Iain i'm not sure you understand some of the case here. You say:

'If there is other evidence then it should be used, especially if it creates a distinction between what is forced and what is consensual, because that is the cruz of the case, no? Semen does neither, in any place,(unless in circumstances given already). Bruising would carry more credence, obviously, but can still be explained away to a degree, which is why the believability of the accuser is so important.'

Forensics need to take semen, bruising etc in to consideration in a sexual assault case. Based on forensic evidence, including semen, including bruises, the prosecution believed they had enough reason and evidence to charge and proceed with a case against DSK. The case would have been dropped beforehand if there was no evidence.

So the case wasn't dropped because of a lack of evidence of sexual assault, the case was dropped because they decided Diallo was not a credible witness.

It was dropped because they didn't believe her, IN SPITE OF forensic evidence in her favour.

That's why people are bringing up the forensic evidence. Because there was evidence there to support what she was saying.

And they decided to not believe her.

Marina S said...

@Paul

"I'm curious know views on whether the low conviction rates cited are due to differing attitudes between men and women as to what constitutes the boundary of respect that can be so easily crossed"

There are differences but they are not big enough to explain away the tiny conviction rates - plenty of women, if not most of them, hold at least some beliefs that are in the category of victim blaming, mostly implicit as opposed to "dirty sluts deserve it" kind of thing.

There are all kinds of issues with the legal system - the sexual history of accusers can be brought up in court but the sexual history of accused (including prior complaints against them for rape) is inadmissible. That's just one example.

But to be honest the biggest problem is rape culture. Juries find it incredibly hard to convict even in the face of physical evidence, and even judges are not free from damaging preconceptions (as in the case last year of a judge handing down a lenient sentence to a man convicted of rape because he was a Muslim and therefore "presumably of good moral standing").

Eliminating jury trials for rape cases I think is something worth looking at. Treat it like the family courts: have a panel of judges/adjudicators, with at least one of them being in some way a "specialist" in the area of law and evidence relating to sexual crimes.

That might raise the conviction rape and send a message back to society that rape really is illegal and something you could get into trouble for: at the moment so few people are convicted that the very definition of what is and isn't rape is completely distorted in public discourse.

But longer term the big difference will only come when we recognise that women are fully realised moral agents who are able to enjoy sex; because our current confusion around issues of consent stems largely from the mercantile model of sex, where it's something men "want" and women "give up" - a paradigm so indistinguishable from actual rape that it's no real wonder justice gets stymied.

sian and crooked rib said...

Brilliant comment Marina!

sian and crooked rib said...

In terms of how the public don't really understand what constitutes rape, this survey came out last year:

Nearly half of young men think that if a woman is too drunk to know what is going on, it is not rape.
46% of men think that if a woman changes her mind during sex, and he carries on, it isn’t rape.
23% of men think that ‘having sex’ with a woman even if she has said no from the start is not rape. (I have put ‘having sex’ in inverted commas because it’s rape, not sex)

Source: http://bit.ly/bSnP1L

And the (now famous) Amnesty International Survey of 2005 also explores what the public's perception of rape is like:

http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=16618

Paul said...

@ Marina

Thank you very much for that, that summed up the answers to my questions very well.

I agree with you, the current mechanisms for dealing with such cases are clearly flawed. One thing I have noticed is that when someone is accused of rape, their personal details (although not their past convictions) can be released into the media, whereas the victim usually remains anonymous. I think that can put people on the defensive before the case even starts - 'how dare this girl accuse this poor guy and not even have the guts to stand up and say it' sort of thing. As flawed as that perception may be in reality, could that be another contributing factor to the rape culture? Perhaps details of trials and accusations should be withheld until after the conclusion of trials held in the manner you suggested? I have no idea if this would make any difference to the outcome - it may even have a negative effect?

Paul said...

@sian

Thanks for that - it illustrates what I was alluding to.

There was a murder trial in the US recently where a mother was accused of killing her toddler. Although the physical and circumstantial evidence seemed to point to her, the jury failed to reached a verdict and she was acquitted. Partly this was due to the issue of 'reasonable doubt'. Members of the jury did not want the possibility, however small, that they may have sentenced a young woman to what ultimately could have been the death penalty.

Now while this is a different situation to rape, could not the same issue be a factor in the low conviction rate - the fact that 'nobody got killed, everyone can just live and learn and move on'? If the jurors took that approach, coupled with the attitudes you cited, would that be another factor that suggests jury trials for rape cases may not be the most appropriate method?

Perhaps juries could be educated on the details of the law prior to cases, but I'm sure the defense teams would jump on this as prejudicing the trial before it had started.

Sounds to me like @marina's suggestion for trying such cases is a sensible compromise.

sian and crooked rib said...

Hi Paul,

You say:

'when someone is accused of rape, their personal details (although not their past convictions) can be released into the media, whereas the victim usually remains anonymous. I think that can put people on the defensive before the case even starts - 'how dare this girl accuse this poor guy and not even have the guts to stand up and say it' sort of thing. As flawed as that perception may be in reality, could that be another contributing factor to the rape culture?'

Although I completely appreciate you are coming at this from a sympathetic and sensitive angle, and understand what you're saying about this flawed perception, there are issues that have been explored in making the defendant anonymous as well as the victim. Last year, the coalition govt put forward a motion to make the defendants in rape cases anonymous (and, importantly, only rape defendants, as opposed to murder and paedophilia defendants as well) on the grounds that a false accusation of rape 'ruins lives'. Many feminist campaigners and MPs spoke out against this suggestion for two very vital reasons.

1. that by singling out rape defendants, it encouraged the notion that women lie about rape and that most accusations are false

2. this ignored that when a suspect is named, this encourages women to come forward with new evidence to support the case.

Perhaps the most famous case to support the last assertion was the John Worbouys case. The police now estimate that he attacked over 100 women, but a lot of the women who complained did not have their cases taken further, leaving him free to continue raping women. When he was finally arrested and named, many women who had not gone to the police came forward because they now felt able to. This went some way into proving his guilt and securing his sentence.

I don't know what the perfect system is or what the answers are, but i would hesitate in suggesting that anonymity for defendants is the way forward.

I hope you take these comments in the spirit they are intended - as further information - as i do appreciate that you are making suggestions and sharing ideas, which is vital to this debate.

Here's some links on the argument:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/nov/12/rape-defendants-anonymity-proposal-scrapped

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10322162

http://ontoberlin.blogspot.com/2010/11/breaking-news.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/21/john-worboys-cab-driver-jail

Ramon Youseph said...

Hi Sian. I love the blog and agree with what you have said. Aside from Diallo's treatment by the media and prosecutors, the awful thing about the Khan case is that as the charges were dropped we will never know either way what happened. I hear Khan is thinking of suing Diallo for falsely accusing him of raping her. I say bring it in because in order for it to be false he has to prove his case. If he was so confident that he didn't do it why not let it go to trial? I don't think he can prove it which makes me wonder.

You're absolutely right when you point out that in rape cases women are treated like the criminals and that unless they have led saintly lives, will have their flirtatious, provocatively dressing, booze drinking, carnal activities used against them as evidence that no rape took place. I sat in on a rape case from start to finish and was juror on a sexual assault of a minor. The treatment of the victim is exactly as you described it; no evidence but finding some way to use the victim's behaviour as an excuse for the accused's actions. In the rape case the girl who was shaking on the stand, was berated by the defence lawyer because she wore a short skirt and was dancing provocatively in a disco, thus giving signals of sexual intent.The defence also tried to argue that because accused was black she didn't want it known to some of her friends and family that she had slept with a black man so made up the allegation. In the case of the minor the girl was simply accused of lying, again no evidence but simply she must be lying. In both instances I could not believe in both instances this was being allowed in a court of law. Still.

As for Diallo I agree that just because she lied on her asylum application (is that right?) doesn't mean to say she lied about the rape. There is an implication that because she lied about one thing then she must be a compulsive liar. Everybody lies (or has lied) about something at some point, but that doesn't automatically discredit our characters. And of course there is an assumption of Khan's respectability - he is not some sex crazed monster stalking the street and hotels raping women; after all he is married, and was head of the IMF. Such men don't do that sort of thing when actually you, I and others know all too well that most rapists do not fit the stereotypical image of the wild eyed sex predator.

The Strauss-Khan case has all the hallmarks of what you have detailed about rape culture and what I witnessed in court. The handling of the case was disgraceful, although I don't think his reputation is necessarily secure. However what it does mean is that if he chooses not to go into politics, he can slink into obscurity and with all his wealth simply disappear into a comfortable life. Diallo will always be branded as the woman who falsely accused a powerful man of raping. She will not be able to hide in shadows or get on with her life so easily. Let's say for the sake of argument Strauss-Khan raped her; because she never had her day in court Diallo will have to live with the fact that this man raped her and got away with it. How are you supposed to lead your life with that hanging over you?

Yet we will never know because the NY prosecutors chickened out and had the case dropped. All we can do is wait and see how the other allegations pan out.

In the meantime Sian keep up the good work.

Paul said...

@sian

Thanks for your comment. It's not a subject I'm particularly knowledgeable about by any means, so thanks for your gentle handling of my questions!

It's certainly an emotive topic, whichever way you look at it. The issue of anonymity is one that's always bothered me. I did write about the very issue you raised in my last comment - that by denying anonymity, it would encourage people to come forward, particularly in suspected serial rape cases. For some reason I took it out; maybe I thought I was going round in circles when I wrote it.

I wasn't aware that there had been a proposal put forward for just this sort of legislation. As you said, no system is perfect and any solution will have flaws. Perhaps what we need instead is an effort to move to a society where the objectification of women is discouraged?

That attitude is depressingly prevalent. The number of guys that have said to me "How have YOU got such a gorgeous wife?" and I just tell them "Because I talked to her...". It kind of sums up what's wrong with men's attitude to women. I'm not perfect by any stretch but it really doesn't take that much effort to show a bit of respect to someone and take the time to get to know them. That way, if you do offend someone or say something out of place, you usually don't cause anything like the level of offense when you just look at people like things.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to post a reply and helping me understand different points of view a little better.

Paul.

Iain Barnett said...

@sian, sometimes you crack me up with those little attempts at weasel words. I think I'd feel let down if you stopped now! :p

If there's a misconception going on here, it's yours. The logic you've provided is fine, but logic relies on the premises given so if the premises themselves aren't correct then the conclusion may be wrong when the logic itself is fine.

The flawed premise you've given is that the prosecution's case relied on physical evidence. But, that's not correct. In a case with only 2 witnesses - the accuser and the accused - then the case is actually dependent on the complaint of the accuser. Physical evidence is then used to support the complaint, not the other way round.

Add to that, (as I said already) physical evidence will be of varying strength, especially where any injury is slight or can be explained reasonably (remember the bar is reasonable doubt).

So, if the accuser is shown to have lied then the case can fail even if there is physical evidence, as physical evidence is not in itself proof of coercion.

That's why the believability of the accuser is important.

It also seems to be important that the lie the prosecution said she'd told on her asylum application was that of gang rape. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this - is a small lie as bad as a big lie, or not at all? If there is a bearing on the case, does the type of lie count?

Iain Barnett said...

@marina - there are obviously several problems with the legal system, but I'm puzzled as to how this would work?

"There are all kinds of issues with the legal system - the sexual history of accusers can be brought up in court but the sexual history of accused (including prior complaints against them for rape) is inadmissible. That's just one example."

The reason behind this is that unproven allegations are, well, unproven. If the standard for an allegation to be taken into account is not proof, what would you propose the standard be?

The idea about family court/using professionals might be a good idea. The suggestion was floated for financial/fraud trials where the knowledge required can be beyond the average jury member. If it could be shown (via good studies) that juries are indeed unduly influenced by culture that leads to low conviction rates, that could be a step towards a better system. I doubt it would lead to a large change in conviction rates though, as most of the problems appear to be with the ease that a defence can be constructed to introduce reasonable doubt.

sian and crooked rib said...

Firstly Ramon, thank you for your very informed and kind comment. I completely agree with you. The case you sat in sound awful, but as you know, depressingly common.

Paul - i agree something needs to be done regarding sexual objectfication of women. Both the American Psych Association and the Centre for Gender Based Violence research argue the links between treating women as objects (and therefore dehumanising them) and violence. It's something I have written about a lot and there are many, many issues here. Thank you for engaging with the debate!

sian and crooked rib said...

Daivd - I thought you weren't going to comment on my blog anymore because I wasn't interested in debate? Ho hum.

The Daily Mail? really? For some idea of how the mail handles rape cases, I would recommend these links:

http://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com/2011/03/daily-mail-fail.html

http://nosleeptilbrooklands.blogspot.com/2011/03/on-daily-mail-and-rape.html

http://ontoberlin.blogspot.com/2011/03/daily-mail-calls-12-year-old-rape.html

http://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com/2011/07/daily-mail-justice-and-child-protection.html

http://ontoberlin.blogspot.com/2010/01/obsessive-coverage-of-cry-rape-cases.html

Also, the Mail is completely inaccurate in its headline. DSK has not been 'cleared' of 'false rape allegations' because the trial has not taken place so he has not been cleard. And, for the 100th time, Diallo has not been accused of, charged with or found guilty of making a false allegation.

The Mail looks at the 6.5% conviction rate for rape and extrapolates that 93.5% of rape allegations are false. Stupid.

Also, 'crazy feminists'? Wow!

sian and crooked rib said...

@ Iain

I have asked you politely to not be rude to me and yet you are now accusing me of being weasaly.

The reason i asked whether you had misunderstood was because you appeared to be dismissing the forensic evidence for this case which included semen. You appeared to be arguing that semen doesn't count as forensic evidence, because it can 'fly across the room' during consensual sex. This appeared to suggest that you believed the case was dropped on the basis of a lack of forensic evidence.

As i say, this was not what happened. The forensic evidence was enough to go to trial. Semen, bruising, trauma, witnesses who saw and spoke to Diallo after the alleged assault - all of this evidence was enough to go to trial. The case wasn't dropped because of a lack of evidence, but because they didn't believe her. This is what happens over and over again in rape cases.

In terms of the lie that she was gang raped - I dealt with this in the original post which I am sure you have read?

But i'll quote some more Hadley too who discusses this in her CIF piece:

'First, her lie about her immigration status was that she had been – gotcha! – gang raped. But the reason she lied then was that she thought it would help her gain political asylum. '

I would urge you to read her article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/23/dsk-trial-accuser-not-accused

gherkingirl said...

Iain,

DSK originally said he was having lunch with his daughter several blocks away when the assault was alleged to take place. That is some serious super-semen to have landed on the wall of the Sofitel while he decided on crabcakes or the Cobb Salad. It's a penis. Not a super soaker. And getting it on the wall during normal funtimes oral sex? That is a new one on me. Of course maybe I've been doing it wrong all those years...

Once the semen was found, the DSK camp made the statement that 'any sex was consensual'. Now call me biased, call me blinded, call me a feminist, but I'd say DSK is lying here. He denied any sexual contact until his own bodily fluids were held up as evidence and then changed his mind. Now bearing in mind that's before Diallo's asylum issues had been exposed, where were the headlines proclaiming 'DSK liar shock'?

There weren't any. That's just one way that this case was biased and just one way that it mirrored the rape culture that other 'normal' victims face around the world.

I gave examples from my case. Not for sympathy or for shock but because they were so bloody commonplace. I work with victims in London and we've practically compiled a book of insane mind boggling you must be shitting me comments the Met have said to rape victims to avoid investigating or putting cases forward to the CPS.

In my eyes the DSK is the perfect case to show up the rape culture that mars justice. The only difference between it and every other case is Diallo actually had lied about something relevant to the case. But you can see how both sides gunned for her to remember something traumatic like she was reading a shopping list back right from the start. The prosecution build her up to be untouchable instead of a person with flaws and failings. The defence went in with a combination of evasion and accusation. Both of them seemed to forget about the humanity involved and go for political point scoring in a way that even had Diallo been 'perfect' and the case had gone forward, would have left her even more traumatised.

Also please do elaborate how bruising could be explained more easily? Never once after a consensual sexual encounter have I had a bruise be visible within the five hours (it took to do her rape kit). Next day when you remember knocking an elbow or banging a shin, yes, but immediate visible bruising? The level of force required for that would stop a person from what they were doing (unless you're now going to suggest Diallo 'liked it rough') and remember it. And as for vaginal bruising. That takes some force. You'd notice it happening and in my experience, it's not normal in a consensual sexual encounter, especially in this one where it is alleged to have been caused by his hand.

You're just proving my point that rape disbelievers will try and talk their way out of even the most obvious evidence...

sian and crooked rib said...

Gherkin Girl - thank you for this comment. Completely agree with you.

Iain Barnett said...

@sian - let's be straight with each other. You reacted badly to my criticisms and were personally rude about me several times, you gave what is frankly a poor apology, and then you moan when I point out your weasel words?

When I tell you to "fuck off" or call you a rape apologist then I think you can cry foul, until then I think you'll have to put up with the barest of politeness that your barely an apology deserves.

Here's some results for "how to give a good apology", I've actually read several of these articles in the past so that I can improve my apologies, I recommend the same to you

http://www.google.co.uk/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=how+to+give+a+good+apology

I think you can find the wikipedia article on what weasel word are yourself.

sian and crooked rib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Iain Barnett said...

@sian - "As i say, this was not what happened. The forensic evidence was enough to go to trial. Semen, bruising, trauma, witnesses who saw and spoke to Diallo after the alleged assault - all of this evidence was enough to go to trial. The case wasn't dropped because of a lack of evidence, but because they didn't believe her. This is what happens over and over again in rape cases. "

Again, you've made the same mistake. The rape _as a legal entity_ does not exist without the complaint. The other evidence is then used to _support_ the complaint.

That there is enough evidence to go to trial does not imply:

- it was definitely winnable (to go to trial is a judgement)
- that the forensic evidence was strong enough on its own to win the case (it isn't, it is there to support the complaint)
- that the evidence does not contain the accused's complaint (as you keep saying)

I'm not dismissing the forensic evidence, just giving it its proper weight. Like all evidence, different bits will be stronger and certain evidence will be circumstantial or damning.

- Semen is circumstantial if the accused claims the sex was consensual.
- Several defences have been used (including in this case) that make certain bruising circumstantial.

These aren't my choices. The bar is "beyond reasonable doubt", and what needs to be proved is coercion. Until you address the process as it is and not how you wish it to be I don't see how you'll get what you want, and that's to improve the lot of rape accusers.

Put in one line, it's a he said she said thing, and without the she said there isn't a case. It hangs on the she said bit, not circumstantial evidence.

sian and crooked rib said...

Iain:

'@sian - let's be straight with each other. You reacted badly to my criticisms and were personally rude about me several times, you gave what is frankly a poor apology, and then you moan when I point out your weasel words?'

Lets be straight with each other. Thrice isn't several. It was silly and immature of me to vent on Twitter. But hey, we're human. I was fuming because i had read a lot of rape apologist commentary around this case. And I apologised for calling you a rape apologist, and explained why i had made that mistake. Also, asking for politeness is not the same as moaning.

Unless you want to engage with the issues of this case and the wider issues around rape culture, then why keep posting? This debate is becoming far too much like you talking about logical arguments, debating skills and how i need to apologise. With some sideshows into the behaviour of semen.

This is what I think.

The DSK case broke down because the prosecution decided Diallo wasn't a credible witness.

This is in spite of forensic evidence that was strong enough and persausive enough to charge DSK.

The rape myth of the 'perfect victim' is part of this. A woman with a past, a woman who has told an unrelated lie, a woman who has had lies told about her in the press - she is apparently un-rapeable. The examples given by other commenters show how this happens all the time, all the time. The assumption that women are lying, the belief that women lie about rape is preventing justice for thousands of women.

Because the case has collapsed, conversations around Diallo 'falsely accusing' DSK have started to abound. This ignores the fact that just like he has not been found guilty of a crime, neither has she.

You say that you don't know much about this case. Please take this comment in the way it is intended, but there's lots of coverage out there about how the case has broken down and why. Here's some links:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/23/dominique-strauss-kahn-charges-dropped?intcmp=239

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/27/strauss-khan-diallo-accused-accuser

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2011/07/rape-presidency-bitch-justice

http://www.thenewsignificance.com/2011/06/04/johann-hari-its-not-just-dominique-strauss-kahn-the-imf-itself-should-be-on-trial/

Iain Barnett said...

@gherkin

"Also please do elaborate how bruising could be explained more easily? Never once after a consensual sexual encounter have I had a bruise be visible within the five hours (it took to do her rape kit). Next day when you remember knocking an elbow or banging a shin, yes, but immediate visible bruising? The level of force required for that would stop a person from what they were doing (unless you're now going to suggest Diallo 'liked it rough') and remember it. And as for vaginal bruising. That takes some force. You'd notice it happening and in my experience, it's not normal in a consensual sexual encounter, especially in this one where it is alleged to have been caused by his hand.

You're just proving my point that rape disbelievers will try and talk their way out of even the most obvious evidence..."

Let's take this backwards. I'm not a rape disbeliever as you seem to imply. If there are as many rapes going unconvicted as sian's statistics say (or even 1%, let's be honest) then that's terrible and things need to change.

That doesn't mean I need to agree with sian's conclusions, or yours. It doesn't mean I need to ignore the standards of evidence set _for all criminal cases_, or the adversarial system, or the required standards for an argument to be strong.

I don't think having what I consider to be a poor argument and poor conclusions will improve the situation. If that means you're going to conclude I'm a rape apologist or rape disbeliever then go for it, it seems to be standard now.

"Also please do elaborate how bruising could be explained more easily"

As to bruising, I'm not trying to explain anything easily. What I am pointing out is that there are well known defences which can be used against it as the standard set is "reasonable doubt". That I point it out doesn't mean I agree with it, but it doesn't mean I'll ignore it either. If I was a defence lawyer who in the course of their job defended a rapist would that make me a rape apologist? No, so I don't agree with several of the conclusion on here or the seeming blindness to the system _as it is_.

If you want to get from B it helps to know where A is.

sian and crooked rib said...

Iain

'That there is enough evidence to go to trial does not imply:

- it was definitely winnable (to go to trial is a judgement)
- that the forensic evidence was strong enough on its own to win the case (it isn't, it is there to support the complaint)
- that the evidence does not contain the accused's complaint (as you keep saying)'

I think you've misunderstood what i was saying.

I wasn't saying or implying that the forensic evidence was enough to win the trial or 'prove' the assault happened. Or that the accused's complaint shouldn't be heard. Of course both parties should be heard.

I was saying that the forensic evidence, coupled with testimony, meant there was enough evidence to charge DSK and go to trial. This was why he was charged. If there wasn't compelling forensic evidence, witnesses and testimony, then he would never have been arrested or charged.

In our rape culture, the emphasis is on disbelieving women and discrediting alleged rape victims. This meant the prosecution dropped the charges.

Taking into account forensic evidence, witnesses and testimonies, there was no reason to drop the charges except:

1. Diallo had lied years ago
2. Her recollection of events on the night of the alleged assault was inconsistent

Seeing as everyone lies at some point in their lives, and the trauma of rape often results in victims not having perfect recollection of events, I (and many, many others) do not believe they were good reasons to drop the case.

Guardian reports:

'Ron Kuby, a criminal defence and civil rights lawyer, said Vance and Diallo had badly mishandled the criminal case. "From the beginning Cyrus Vance did everything wrong that it was possible to do wrong, and for the worst possible reasons," he said. "It was a tragedy of error and hubris."'

'utside court Ken Thompson, Diallo's lawyer, attacked the ruling. "No man, no matter how much power, money and influence he has, has a right to sexually assault a woman," Thompson said. "We are disappointed that District Attorney Vance apparently does not believe in equal justice under the law and has denied an innocent woman a day in court."

Michael Greys, co-founder of the group 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, was furious at the dismissal. "American justice is not blind," he said. "Race and class still play a part. This was a case of a millionaire against a poor black woman with no education." Rudy Dent, another Diallo supporter said the decision was down to "plantation politics."'

Iain Barnett said...

@sian thanks for the links, it will obviously take me some time to read everything. Also, searching for stuff myself on the internet is counter productive, since you've already pointed out there are plenty of lies and misinformation. Since you know what that is, it's surely better I read the sources you use than get bad information myself? That's it really.

"Unless you want to engage with the issues of this case and the wider issues around rape culture, then why keep posting? This debate is becoming far too much like you talking about logical arguments, debating skills and how i need to apologise. With some sideshows into the behaviour of semen. "

I thought we weren't supposed to ask why anyone posts, because as you say, it's obvious, I deemed it important to me. I believe the logic you've used is important, I've stated several times that I think having a strong argument would improve things, and that the converse would also be true. Am I not allowed to have a different angle, a different perspective? Are you so sure your conclusions are right that all others are disallowed?

Since the system in question - the courts - uses certain standards that include logic and debate and, in my view, lead to several of the problems with securing rape convictions, should we not discuss them? I think so.

Maybe not a slide show of how semen works is needed, but something at least, if anyone can question how it gets on clothes or a wall. I'd barely bat an eyelid if someone told me that happened to them during sex. Saying that all the men on the Guardian comments or wherever are trying to ignore that kind of thing is to ignore that men know quite a lot about spunk and how it tends to get anywhere. Really, you should take that on because I'm not mucking around.

Finally, I'd suggest if you don't want a group wider than your friends and feminists who immediately agree with everything you say to comment on your blog, that you shouldn't put it on the internet.

I'll get my coat now :)

gherkingirl said...

Iain,

By constantly trying to find a reason, any reason other than evidence of assault for bruising, bleeding and semen (in a case where the defendant originally said he was elsewhere at the time), actual evidence is diluted.

Everyone starts off hearing hoofbeats, starts screaming zebras and when said zebras don't appear, they pretend they never heard hoofbeats in the first place.

You give me no explanation as to why this level of physical evidence wasn't good enough to go forward apart from to mutter 'reasonable doubt'. I've given you several explanations that a good prosecution would use. You can't even bat them back with something that might make me think 'gosh,yes, hadn't thought of that' which is how you establish reasonable doubt, not just encanting the words like a mantra.

I don't find your argument logical myself. There's no actual evidence, no understanding, not thinking outside the box about culture, just constantly having to repeat that you are not a rape apologist. Something you don't seem to be doing a great job convincing us all of because no matter what statistic, piece of evidence or anecdote you've been given here to show something about the DSK case, rape culture in general or previous discussion and debate about the subject, you've asked for even more proof and/or just dismissed it with the equivalent of 'I didn't see it with my own eyes so no'. (Well, I presume that's it. Your lack of quotation marks and use of underscores really does make it diffcult to follow, so apologies if I've missed somewhere you agreed and learned or added links or evidence of your own.)

It's the constant Doubting Thomas act that makes me think you're a rape apologist, not personal dislike. And no, being a defence lawyer on a rape case doesn't automatically make you a rape denier. What about all the defence lawyers representing all those falsely accused men?

sian and crooked rib said...

I'm still not sure what your conclusions are other than that you disagree with me because you think my argument is weak.

That's fine. That is your opinion. Many people disagree with you both here and on twitter. I have published all but one comment where you and others have disagreed with me and others have disagreed with you.

Gherkin Girl - great comment. As all your comments have been! thank you for for them.

David Rose said...

Conspiracy Theorists 1
Crazy Feminists 0

"Dominique Strauss-Kahn: a modern-day scapegoat"
Wednesday 24 August 2011
by Tim Black
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/11011/

"Dominique Strauss-Kahn - you remember him, don’t you? Yeah, that’s the one, the French politician. The one who had been raping women for years. Apparently he only got away with it because the French press and politicians approve of that kind of thing. They think it’s macho, you see; they reckon it’s just what males in powerful positions do. Well not anymore. Not since he was caught red-handed in New York earlier this year."

sian and crooked rib said...

This doesn't make any sense.

MariaS said...

Iain,

When your reaction to widely cited and well-established statistics on sexual violence is to demand to be convinced, and proceed at length to twist and turn and quibble in order not to have to give credence to how widespread and systemic a problem, and to list reasons why you think the case under discussion is weak, on a blog post about how a culture of disbelief towards women who report sexual assault pervades the justice system and the wider culture, then a) you're exemplifying the problem under discussion, and b) rape apologism is a frank and fair characterisation of the tack you're taking.

Adding "I don't condone rape" doesn't magically make everything else you say not be rape apologism. It makes it sound like you know that everything else you're saying sounds like you're prone to disbelieving reports of sexual asssault and to arguing in support of the people suspected of/charged with those offences. Naming such a position as "rape apologist" is not some terrible breach of courtesy, it's taking your words and arguments at face value. It's unpacking the fact that such arguments aren't neutral, they're part and parcel of the culture of disbelief that actively undermines access to justice for rape victims.

You're also exceedingly rude and arrogant. Sian doesn't have to be polite to you to ask you to get out of her space and stop browbeating her.

"He said, she said" shouldn't actually be an obstacle in prosecuting cases of sexual violence. There's surely many cases of assault where the only witness to the crime is the alleged victim, for one thing, and for another, I wonder how much of a misperception it is that most rape cases hinge absolutely only on the accounts of the defendant and the witness/alleged victim - and don't also have for example forensic and other evidence that supports one account over another, or witnesses to what each party did or said after what happened and so on.

But the real problem is, "he's believed, she's doubted", and that is what needs addressing, the knee-jerk bias against women who report rape, the fallacy that someone must be lying because of x,y, z that have nothing to do with the account they can give of what happened at the time and place that they say they were assaulted. This bias is what is found to be behind the abandonment of rape cases, the disbelief and discouragement of victims by those in the justice system often from the get-go and often their laxity in doing their jobs thanks to this.

See this article (pdf) for a good summary of research about this and an accessible discussion of the issues
http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/the_voice_vol_3_no_1_2009.pdf

David Rose said...

I know Sian, its hard to understand how the global elite use feminism to maintain their power over 99% of the population but that is what they do.

For the last 30 years there has been no effective opposition to elite power. This has been the era of "Consumer Feminism" and Globalism.

Cultural Marxism, Feminism and Neo-Liberal Globalization are all co-constitutive and co-dependent.

sian and crooked rib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sian and crooked rib said...

David that is HILARIOUS!

You think feminism is used to control 99% of the population?

Do you have any facts or evidence or reason to back up this frankly surreal claim? Sounds like Quentin Letts to me!

http://nosleeptilbrooklands.blogspot.com/2011/04/quentin-letts-vs-massive-liberal.html

If you want to read about the issues of consumer feminism and patriarchy/capitalism, i would recommend One Dimensional Woman by Nina Power, a fantastic book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Dimensional-Woman-Zero-Books/dp/1846942411/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314371616&sr=8-1

Great comment Marina.

sian and crooked rib said...

Sorry, great comment Maria.

gherkingirl said...

Maria, brilliant comment.

Sian, you're a trooper. Thanks for letting us all come play on your site.

This might be off topic, but I thought the nay sayers might find it interesting (unless 200 anecdotes carry no weight at all in their world)

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/_chat/1282091-The-entirely-unofficial-MN-rape-and-sexual-assault-survey-RESULTS

It made me want to retch. Not one single woman as far as I could cope with reading had seen their attacker investigated, charged, tried, convicted and imprisoned. (Although for fear of being sick, I gave up a couple of pages in so maybe I missed the 1% who should have been there taking into account most women say that they didn't report for fear of disbelief and further attack, let alone the unspoken belief that they didn't deserve justice.)

Some of those women lied in their pasts or were prostitutes or drank or wore short skirts or weren't 'perfect'. All of them were disbelieved and all of them live with that daily.

For me it wasn't the rapes that shattered my life. The PTSD and panic and agoraphobia came when I realised the police didn't care, no one believed me and I was the only one who thought I was worth justice and that I was going to be blamed while they walked free.

But so what? My trauma and fear and injuries and assaults weren't logical after all. Why listen to them or anyone else's?

sian and crooked rib said...

thanks Gherkin Girl and thank you for all your insightful, intelligent and honest comments. You rock!

I read some of the mumsnet survey, so so harrowing.

Finally, one more response to Iain...

'Let's take this backwards. I'm not a rape disbeliever as you seem to imply. If there are as many rapes going unconvicted as sian's statistics say (or even 1%, let's be honest) then that's terrible and things need to change.'

Not 'Sian's statistics'

Home office and British Crime statistics.

Right - pub!

David Rose said...

The main effect of feminism is to divide and rule society. With the destruction of the family, the individual is left with no power buffer between themselves and the state.

Feminism produces alienated, atomised consumers who are firmly controlled by the state (eg: "Brave New World" meets "1984").

After globalization the state is held captive by the transnational capitalist class (the global elite). These fatherless, alienated consumer-zombies think "politics" is looting trainers and mobile phones. This is a society in the advanced stages of collapse.

Its a bit disturbing Sian, that you find all this to be: "Hilarious".

Intelligent debate with obsessive feminists is not possible because feminists rejected reason years ago .. as an aspect of white male domination.

You are living in a hellish, self-destructive society. You are welcome to live in your self-created Hell but please ...... include me out.

David Rose said...

Sian, this is all "Hilarious"??? Really?

What planet are you living on Sian? Planet psychotic, crazy feminist?

To repeat: the US prosecutors asked to drop the case against DSK for rape because there was no evidence that DSK committed rape.

So, why did DSK suddenly loose his job as the head of the IMF during perhaps the biggest financial/economic crisis in history?

When will feminists consider the wider political world beyond their narrow obsession with rape?

DSK: Columbia University Professor Wonders If It Was All A Banker Conspiracy
http://www.businessinsider.com/saskia-sassen-dominique-strauss-kahn-conspiracy-2011-7

Dominique Strauss-Kahn conspiracy theories return
French elite and media were astounded when Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested by New York Police on the charges of attempting to rape a hotel maid.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/dominique-strauss-kahn/8611297/Dominique-Strauss-Kahn-conspiracy-theories-return.html

Vladimir Putin claims Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the victim of a conspiracy to force him out
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1392463/Vladimir-Putin-claims-Dominique-Strauss-Khan-victim-conspiracy-force-out.html

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: 5 Conspiracy Theories
http://abcnews.go.com/US/dominique-strauss-kahn-conspiracy-theories/story?id=14007277

MariaS said...

Thanks Sian & gherkin girl!

Although it's been said a few times already in the post and in the discussion, it bears repeating: the fundamental problem here is the fact that the case did not go to trial.Going over the merits or weaknesses of the prosecution case or the defence case are immaterial, because now they will never be tested against one another. That's the injustice in this case, that Diallo, like so many other women who report rape, has been let down by the people who are supposed to uphold justice. I'm appalled but unsurprised that the media is failing to clarify that the dropping of the case does not mean that the allegation was false.

David Rose said...

'Wicked' women jailed for accusing man of rape after he showed police pictures of their consensual threesome"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2030471/Wicked-women-jailed-accusing-man-rape-showed-police-pictures-consensual-threesome.html#ixzz1WAE641Xk

These kinds of incidents are getting more and more common. These days men need to film every aspect of a sexual encounter with a woman to avoid the risk of their lives being
destroyed by vindictive, man-hating feminists (but then if they do film the sex encounters they will probably go to jail for invasion of privacy or harassment or whatever!).

What a crazy, evil world the feminists have created.

Feminism is war against men.

sian and crooked rib said...

I have posted David's comments here because sometime I think it is important to show what ridiculous, hateful, uninformed and plain disturbing bile that anti feminists come out with. In the face of stats and evidence that show how pervasive rape culture is in our society, some ppl respond with overblown, hysterical and pathetic arguments that feminism has declared war on men and the family.

I happen to have a higher opinion of men and women than David has. I think it is sad that he has such a low opinion of women and men.

David, for the first time ever, I am typing the following sentence, but I don't think I will be able to publish any more of your comments. Your arguments have no basis in reality and are simply offensive.

in the meantime, I recommend you read:

Against our will, Susan brownmiller
the handmaids tale, Margaret atwood
the whole woman, germaine Greer
the equality illusion, kat banyard
living dolls, Natasha Walter
Reclaiming the f word, cath redfern, kristin aune
female chauvinist pigs, Ariel levy
The women's room, marilyn French

Iain Barnett said...

@mariaS

"When your reaction to widely cited and well-established statistics on sexual violence is to demand to be convinced..."

post up here where i did that. I asked to _see_ the statistics, and that until statistics were given then to just say things is meaningless. That was it. Once they were given, where have I "quibbled" with the stats? I've barely talked about the stats and I stated quite clearly I was glad they'd been given.

If people can't tell the difference between stating a view and examining a view then wtf can i do with that kind of attitude?

Lastly,

"and to list reasons why you think the case under discussion is weak, on a blog post about how a culture of disbelief towards women who report sexual assault pervades the justice system and the wider culture, then a) you're exemplifying the problem under discussion..."

Jesus. H. Christ. There's so much to do with that it's hard to even take in.

"I'm appalled but unsurprised that the media is failing to clarify that the dropping of the case does not mean that the allegation was false."

You realise that's called Denying The Consequent, and is the same reasoning you're using with me?

ffs

Iain Barnett said...

@sian the underscores are from a markup language called Markdown that is widely used in the tech community on the internet, to signify emphasis. It's better than using HTML (if you're used to it). I felt I was using quotation marks wherever they were needed, so I don't know what you mean on that point.

"Many people disagree with you both here and on twitter" if you're going to use that logic, then you're also tacitly supporting rape culture. Which is why I couldn't give a monkeys how many people agree with me, because it is entirely unrelated to how good a reason is.

@gherkin

On "reasonable doubt", it's the standard set for a criminal case so obviously it's the most important reference point. If physical evidence can have doubt attached (and it can - again, not my decision, that's just the way it is) then it won't reach that standard, therefore the prosecution won't win. Therefore the prosecution also needs the testimony. Therefore if the testimony falters so does the entire case _irrespective of the physical evidence_ and the prosecution will drop the case. That is their responsibility.

That's how it works. There are good reasons for that system that, personally, I agree with. I believe Sian's analysis to be faulty, and hence the conclusions. If the analysis was better I think it'd get further. Even then, I think it's looking at the wrong part of the system. I think the system can be changed to improve rape convictions _and_ keep the existing tenets intact*.

Ok? It's that simple. I've tried to be clear but if you don't think I should be mentioning reasonable doubt then i've no idea wtf you're expecting if you want to talk about how rape accusers are treated in criminal cases, because it's the standard. Otherwise it'd be like talking about why boys do worse at GCSE's without mentioning the grading standards.

So just as those statistics weren't Sian's, the logic isn't Iain's, it's provided by the court system. Take it up with the Greeks and the Saxons.

*and I promise I will write it up soon on my blog and let you know so you can pile in and criticise it if you wish.

sian and crooked rib said...

Iain

It wasn't me that mentioned the underscores and quote marks.

As has been pointed out multiple times, no one disagreed with you that the prosecution needed the testimony from Diallo. Testimony, forensic evidence, witnesses after the event - all of this was in place for the prosecution to charge. The case never went to trial because, again, they didn't believe Diallo and they didn't believe her because she had lied in the past and because her testimony was inconsistent which is something that is very common with trauma.

You disagree with my conclusions. I disagree with yours.

gherkingirl said...

Iain,

It was me who mentioned the underscores. And I wasn't being snarky. It really does make it hard to follow in long posts...especially when you're already not making your case that well.

I didn't say you shouldn't mention reasonable doubt. You just keep repeating the words like they mean something but cannot offer any explanation of where the original Diallo case would have created it.

We've dealt several times with the fact she lied being unacceptable in this case and talked about how even before there was a hint on the horizon of her having lied about anything the physical evidence was being written off and minimised and people were trying to deny it was even possible that a crime had occured.

Right from the start every scrap of info about Diallo has been feasted on while DSK was able to sit quietly and out of the line of fire. Yet, you'd think it would be the other way round and the victim (and her child, family, friends and associates) would be afforded respect and privacy. But no, it's been the alleged accuser. No one's been doorstepping his kids. They haven't had to move house. His wife hasn't lost her income. Neither he or the family have been forced to give a newspaper interview begging to be left alone.

You're focusing on the fact that yes, Diallo lied, and then suggesting that she deserved everything because of that. You're using that to ignore the realities of how this case and others are investigated. You haven't offered any evidence to back up a single claim you've made and yet you've howled for pages and pages of links from us.

Even when you are talking about something interesting like "Even then, I think it's looking at the wrong part of the system. I think the system can be changed to improve rape convictions _and_ keep the existing tenets intact*." You haven't given a single example to show your argument. How can we change? How will it improve? What will it improve? Conviction rates? Attrition? Making victims feel less violated in court?

You seem to think simply dropping words in the argument is enough, but you don't show any real engagement or expertise on this and when queried, you say I told you not to even mention reasonable doubt when I clearly asked you to apply it to the physical evidence here, not just repeat the words.

You also keep telling us how Sian's evidence is faulty but again never elaborate how this is. You also bleat that you didn't know anything about the subject until you got involved in the thread and didn't know anything about the stats and the system until she and Maria linked a-go-go earlier. If you could actually point at something and say' actually that is wrong and that's why' that would be useful. Again you just keep saying you don't believe it but you don't apply your own standards of required evidence.

Some of us have been reading and researching and living this subject for years and it's more than a tad patronising to have a total newbie pop up and go 'wrong' without anything to back it up. That would be like me taking my barely grasped GCSE physics over to a board filled with professional physicists and saying I heard electricity was magic, ignoring their years of expertise and shrugging and going' well, I heard it. But I'm not telling you where.'

Back your arguments up with something concrete and I for one, will be happier to listen. But right now you just sound like every other read it off the back of a fag packet in the pub expert that this conversation usually brings out. You'll be writing for Dacre in no time...

sian and crooked rib said...

Erm, just so you know, am going out for the afternoon and won't be back til late (midnight?) so won't be able to moderate comments until later/tomorrow.

Gherkin Girl -
'Right from the start every scrap of info about Diallo has been feasted on while DSK was able to sit quietly and out of the line of fire. Yet, you'd think it would be the other way round and the victim (and her child, family, friends and associates) would be afforded respect and privacy. But no, it's been the alleged accuser. No one's been doorstepping his kids. They haven't had to move house. His wife hasn't lost her income. Neither he or the family have been forced to give a newspaper interview begging to be left alone.'

brilliantly put!

I'm not sure what else we can do really! We have explained and evidenced our views. We have provided stats, we have answered questions, we have repeated over and over again the facts of this case as they have been presented to us. If people continue to disagree, then I can only really refer them back to the links and books i have recommended in order to get a wider view on the DSK case itself, and the problems with rape convictions rates and levels of vawg across the board.

TBH i write this blog for me. It's a space where i write about feminist issues and where i can write freely, away from my day job. I encourage debate and comments on my blog, although the level of comments on this post is unprecendented. I aim to engage with commenters and answer their questions. But if after providing heaps of info, stats and links etc etc i still haven't persuaded you Iain, then ok. but please please please continue to read about and around this subject because there are many better writers than me who have written a lot about why and how the human rights crisis of violence against women and girls needs to end right now.

As i said before, they aren't 'sian's stats'. They are the official stats.

sian and crooked rib said...

Right, I think everyone has had ample time and space to give their views and comments on this post. Reading back, the debate has become quite repetitive and circular so unless anyone has anything new to bring I think we can close the comments.

Thank you everyone who has shared and contributed to this lively discussion.