Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Institutionalised misogyny in the UK

On 28 November 2009, a UK woman was savagely raped by her husband. She called the police, and they arrested him. But before he was tried, she withdrew the allegation, after a sustained campaign of intimidation from her rapist and his family. And so the police prosecuted her - but not those intimidating her - for perverting the course of justice. She was convicted and sentenced to eight month's imprisonment.

This week, she was back in court to appeal her conviction. The court refused:

Despite accepting that the 29-year-old woman – known as Sarah – was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder at the time she retracted her allegations of rape, the court said he could not "quash a conviction on a broad, somewhat nebulous basis of unfairness where the conviction, following due process, is in every respect safe" because the woman was "undoubtedly guilty of a serious crime".
Their reasoning? The same old bullshit:
Lord Judge said: "The contemporaneous evidence available to the appellant's legal advisers, once she had decided to tell the truth, provided a great deal of mitigation, but no viable defence of duress.

"If she had been threatened by him with violence if she did not withdraw the complaint, as it seems to us, it is inconceivable that she would not have said so at the time [that she retracted her allegation of rape]. If she was asserting that he forced a retraction by raping her or threatening to rape her, there was no reason why she should not also have explained her retraction of the rapes by reference to any such threats."

"She didn't speak up at the time, therefore it must all be lies". Which number is that on the victim-blaming bingo card?

And then British police wonder why so many rapes go unreported. What's surprising is that any woman at all will have anything to do with a criminal justice system so institutionally misogynist that they regard prosecuting a rape victim as just.