Another week and yet another step back for full female equality as a former judge, Mary Jane Mowat, stated this week that rape convictions will never increase until women stop being drunk. Mowat clarifies that she isn’t saying it is right to rape a woman who is drunk just that convictions will not increase until women drink less. For me though I see this as yet another moment where women are inevitably being blamed for being attacked by men? Men who clearly don’t understand normal societal behaviour and boundaries.
Does any woman, or man for that matter, ever ask to be raped? No, they don’t. Why? Because the whole meaning of the word rape is non-consensual sex, usually of a violent nature. No-one would or could ask for that, it is the actions and decision of the rapist to do that to someone who is unsuspecting and who never asked for it.
In the past, women have been accused of wearing clothing that are too provocative or drinking too much and that is why rape happens to them. Well I am very sorry for wanting equal rights to men. Rights where I can leave the house in whatever I want including a short skirt or a low cut top without fear of being sexually assaulted; rights where I can have a drink or two when I’m out with friends without fear of being sexually assaulted by some man that should know better. Why should I have to change my behaviour by only leaving the house in jumpers and jeans and becoming tea-total in order to avoid being raped.
But even if I did that, it would never reduce my chances in the slightest. If I happened to stumble across a rapist he’s not going to let me carry on my merry way just because I’m sober instead of drunk or wearing layers of clothing over a figure hugging dress or shirt that doesn’t cover the whole top half of my body.
We have to stop blaming the victim for the crime and blame the perpetrator. Do we blame the victim in a murder trial, a burglary or even a child abuse claim? No we don’t, so why is rape any different?!
Thankfully I have never suffered this horrific crime myself but I imagine that it would be the most horrific and traumatic experience to ever have to go through, being so violated so personally. It would be a bad enough thing to go through without police, judges or juries not willingly to believe you or help you just because you may have been wearing a skirt above the knee or you had a drink that night.
It is not that women need to stop drinking, it is that police need to start taking rape claims more seriously that is what will see the conviction rate rise. So many women do not come forward to report a rape and honestly, god forbid, it happened to me I don’t think I would either. The pain and trauma of the experience would be enough without having to battle to be believed by hierarchies of people who should be on the victim’s side.
So no, I will not stop having a drink on a night out, I will not stop wearing the clothes I want to and I will not constantly rethink my life and actions because of other people. It is the men who commit these crimes and the people put in place to protect others in society that need to rethink their actions and practices, not me.