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Tony Makara

This problem exists within the confines of marriage too. All to often women are abused by their husbands and pressured into activities such as Sadomasochism, swinging, threesomes, posing for degrading photos and the like. Activities that women would not have chosen to be involved in but which they have been pressured into accepting as a part of their particular marriage. The Conservative party must also reach out to women who suffer misuse and abuse within marriage. Men must be made to understand that women are not chattel, and that marriage does not mean sexual licence.

Robert McIlveen

The drop in conviction rate should be treated with care: while the attrition rate matters, so too does the increased number of incidents reported. The 1970s rate would probably include a higher proportion of violent rapes committed by strangers because of the changing idea of what constitutes rape.

This doesn't mean the perpetrators can get away with it, but it is much harder to prove a case where the question is whether or not both partners consented rather than one where the victim is brutally attacked and the case is to confirm the perpetrator.



Bored housewife

Tony, it is important not to confuse rape where there is no consent with sex acts that you might find repulsive but which a woman consents to. I frequently indulge in naked photography, group sex and being birched or lightly whipped.

Confusing something as horrible as rape with some of the liberating things I like to do does nobody any favours.

Mike A

Bored Housewife speaks for all of us.


Oh dear! Can we get back to the main subject of the thread now please...

Bored housewife



Tony Makara

Bored housewife, before we all return to the main subject, before this thread degenerates into something else, as Editor wisely advises, I'd just like to say that I am of course referring to the question of compulsion. I've read several stories of women who were 'used as a trade-off' during their marriage, by their husbands to gain access to other women through the act of 'Swinging' etc.

What people do in their private lives is their own business but we must give vunerable married women support and let them understand that they don't have to participate in a certain sexual activity if they don't want to. The right to say "No" extends to marriage too.

Louise Bagshawe

Theresa is right and it is very good that our party wants to tackle this issue. The government's quangoes have downgraded sentencing for rape and for domestic violence. Earlier this year it was announced that if a domestic abuser merely "expressed remorse" in the dock, his sentence could be cut.

At the same time, I would hope that the party's excellent policy focus on violence against women examines our attitudes to extremist foreign regimes and their positions on the rights of women. It is all over the news that a gang-rape victim in Saudi Arabia has this week been sentenced to lashings and imprisonment. It is not appropriate that Saudi Arabian dignitaries be received in our country as honoured guests while this sort of filth is permitted in the Kingdom.

Domestically, the party is also tackling forced marriage, which is of course a euphemism, since forced marriage is a state of ongoing rape. Labour has failed to protect young and vulnerable British women, and I am very heartened that the Conservative party is determined to do so.

Tony Makara

The sentencing needs to be more severe to reflect the vile nature of the crime. I'd especially like to see more done in countering the date-rape culture and additional severe sentencing doled out to those who try to induce rape through the use of drugs. Editor, I think it is sad that some have tried to belittle the seriousness of this subject with crass throwaway comments.

Tony Makara

"Labour has failed to protect young and vulnerable British women"

Louise, very true. Labour have swept the issue of forced marriage, which as you rightly point out is forced rape, under the carpet. I saw the video of a young girl being stoned to death for having a relationship with someone of another caste and it was very upsetting to watch a young girl die because of the primitive attitudes that prevail around the world in the name of religion. While we should respect every persons religious beliefs, we should also make it clear that those beliefs will not be allowed to contravene human rights.



John Leonard

Whilst I fully support the measures proposed, I cannot but feel that this article is rather slanted. Ms May once again provides a rather narrow one sided view of an issue that could be viewed with a wider perspective.

The very title says it all:

"Protecting women from sexual violence"

Are women the only victims of sexual violence?

Do female victims deserve more consideration than male victims?

Does the councilling/therapy for female rape victims differ that greatly from the councilling/therapy for victims of other serious sexual crimes?

Are men the only perpetrators of violent or serious sexual crimes?

Why is there no consideration of the root causes of these hideous crimes?

Are there no social considerations involved?

Does the increasingly liberal view of the Sex Industry in this country have absolutely nothing to do with the seeming increase in violent sexual crimes?

Is there a particular reason why rape of females should be considered separately from homosexual rape, incest or paedophilia and other serious sexual offences?

I would be far more comfortable if the issues were addressed as 'Protecting People from serious Sexual Offences'

One only has to recall the crimes of Denis Nielsen to see that the issue is wider than Ms May suggests.

One of the excellent features of the IDS Report on Social Justice is that it finds a balance between reactive proposals to punish, deter and rehabilitate as well as proactive proposals to identify and address the root causes of of the issues it addresses.

All that we see here pretty much are reactive measures to uncover the extent of the problem and punish those who commit the crime against women only. In addition, whilst there is laudable support for female victims there is no consideration of the perpetrator's rehabilitation.

The only proactive measure proposed is to include in sex education, a section where kids are taught basically - 'No means No'.

I'm afraid that doesn't sound very imaginative or convincing. There seems little understanding of the causes of these awful crimes in the proposals made.

This is a very serious, and as Ms May points out, a very complex issue. I feel that such a simplistic and seemingly superficial approach to it leaves a lot to be desired. I do not believe it is enough.

Instead of considering such matters as solely crimes against women as they seem to be considered here, perhaps such crimes should be looked at in the context of Social Justice and perhaps a group should be set up under the auspices of the Centre for Social Justice or such like to report on the whole issue of violent sexual crimes. There may well be many common considerations with those which the Social Justice report has already considered and is to further look at.

Furthermore, I would have more confidence in these proposals if their champion on the front bench did not seem to have a predisposition to articulate the issues in a divisive and unbalanced manner.

If someone else took this issue forward with a more balanced view then perhaps we might start to get a better understanding of the causes of these dreadful crimes and perhaps see some real steps to reduce the occurrence of such crimes.

Perhaps it is time that rather than having just a Minister for Women and one for Children (part-time) that we also had a Minister for Men, all of whom are subordinate to a Minister for the Individual?

Jenny O'Neill

John Leonard - a Minister for the Individual? Please tell me you are joking, or if not, I would be interested to know what that brief would entail ...

John Leonard

Jenny O'Neill:

I agree the title I used was somewhat clumsy and on further reflection what I am actually proposing is a Minister for Social Justice.

This would of course address the issues highlighted by Ian Duncan Smith but I believe should also take on additonal issues to give it a brief of:

Addiction (e.g.Alcohol, Drugs, Gambling, Smoking & related issues)
Equality & Discrimination (Race, Sex, Age etc.)
Sexuality, Marriage & Child Welfare
Some Public Health Issues (Obesity, Smoking etc.)
Other matters of personal choice.

The primary focus would be look at the views from the personal perspective of the individual within society rather than the from the view of the professional bodies, lobby groups and businesses that benefit from promoting a one-sided view of these issues.

It would further focus upon prevention, education and rehabilitation as opposed to punishment (which should remain under Justice).

Ironically, most of these issues at one point or another belonged to or still belongs to the Home Office. With the Home Office struggling for many years to manage it's main areas of responsibility some have been handed on piecemeal to other departments. Those that remain suffer as a result of the Home Office's inability to cope with it's workload.

By gathering these issues under a single Ministry it may be possible to provide a more consistent, cohesive, effective and just approach to social issues which to some extent affect us all.

In providing such a Ministry it would also indicate a clear break from the prejudiced approach of the current Labour Government.

John Leonard

Jenny O'Neill:

On further reflection there is also a case that in general terms Human Rights and Civil Liberties could also fall within the brief of a Social Justice Ministry.

Certainly these two topics overarch most of the areas that I have listed.

John Ionides

I think that the underlying problem here are the huge internal inconsistencies in how we think of sex. At one level, sex has been trivialised; in the media sexual imagery is ubiquitous and sex discussed in extremely casual terms.

On the other hand, sex taps into extreme low levels of consciousness which is why invasion of someones "sexual space" is considered such a serious crime.

As I understand it from Cameron's speech, the main problems seem to be where these two views interface: the low conviction rate comes not so much from the few "stranger" rapes where it is clear that a crime has taken place, but from the majority of cases where the question is one of whether there was consent.

And here we hit a real problem. How many people (especially when drunk) adjourn their fumblings on the sofa to get their random to sign a quick consent form? Anything else, and if you cook a bad breakfast you open yourself up to the lady changing her mind and having to visit the boys in blue.

All of this means that the system is open to massive abuses on both sides. I wouldn't be at all surprised if in in a good proportion of the rape cases that never go to court the man IS guilty. But equally well, there are doubtless numerous cases where the lady is crying wolf, or where consent was borderline (e.g. the man misread the situation) but afterwards she felt abused.

As ever, education appears the most elegant answer. After all, if all guys were classic mind-reading, caring gentlemen the problems would disappear. But teaching "sexual manners" in schools is going to be tough because you would be fighting against a much more liberal (and much more exciting to read about) view of sex in the media.

So, by all means try to get the conviction rate up by looking at methods that can pick out some of the "false negatives" , but don't expect it to be easy.

Sentencing is a much tougher question though. In many ways I would approach it the opposite way to Cameron; maybe a new low-level charge of "sex without clear consent" that people can be charged with where rape charges are clearly not going to carry; one which doesn't carry a prison sentence, is not listed on criminal records (a crime has taken place, inasmuch as consent was not unambiguous, but it would completely scuppper the guy's life chances otherwise) but is recorded on a separate, national register. If a man starts picking up lots of these then there is clearly a problem. A horrible fudge but it is hard to do better without completely wrecking the lives of a whole lot of innocent men.

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