Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Columnist spot-on about attitudes to rape

Thank you Fionola Meredith for your article 'Girls face moral curfew as rapists act with impunity' (Comment, January 30).

When will people such as Joanna Lumley and the Tory MP Richard Graham understand that their comments are dangerous and send out the wrong message to anyone who has been raped?

This dialogue tries to shift responsibility from the perpetrator to the victim. Looking at official statistics, coupled with our cultural acceptance of the crime, this responsibility-shift is working well.

Rapists rape and this needs to reiterated as victims, regardless of how they dress or behave, are not "asking for it".

This is the very notion which has prevented victims of rape reporting this crime to the police and, therefore, the prosecution rate for rape is low and the conviction rate even lower.

So, while is it good to remind women and girls how to stay safe, it is more important that we send a strong, clear message that rape is totally unacceptable.

As Fionola points out, rape does carry a potential life sentence, although very rarely is such strong sentencing enacted.

Let us not forget: rape is an act of violence and power. It is not motivated by sexual desirability.

Rarely, if at all, has the issue of 'provocative clothes' been the motivating factor for rape to occur.

Women and girls of all ages, classes, culture, sexuality, race and faith are raped. Attractiveness is of little, or no, significance.

CLARE BAILEY

South Belfast Green Party

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