openDemocracyUK

Debating rape

Rosemary Bechler
22 May 2011

In the lamentable debate on the sentencing of rapists which has taken place this week in Britain, only one thing is clear – self-serving party politicking shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near issues that matter. As has been pointed out, only 6% of rapes reported to a police station in the UK end in a conviction, and the number of rapes that go unreported is probably much larger than any civilised country can feel comfortable about.  The relationship between repair to this situation, sentencing and punishment, remains wide open for debate. Baroness Stern’s recommendations concentrating on rates of reporting, prosecutions and convictions have been largely ignored. Now the spotlight is back on, but we are too busy baiting Ken Clarke to notice. The debate that we need is between people who want to change the deep-seated attitudes that permit such relations between men and women, and who have some ideas, old or new, about this - not between those competing to ‘speak for the nation’ with an energy that is in direct proportion to their irrelevance. Thank goodness for Suzanne Moore who has entered the fray to try and rescue some sanity and judgment from the resulting fracas.

Those of us who want to see the debates that matter advanced would also do well to turn our attention away from the Westminster hall of mirrors and its eager servants of the media to the world at large, where these issues are now being raised with a due sense of what about rape is truly serious for humanity. I invite OK readers to take a look at our front page today.

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