Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Viewpoint: Exposing the rapists

Another weekend, another horrific crime against a woman. This time it is the rape of a teenager in Botanic Gardens in south Belfast. Something must be done about these kind of attacks against women, but it is difficult to know what.

The first, and most obvious, is deterrence. The legal system is of course generally now much more effective at underlining society's abhorrence at sex attacks than it once was.

However, judges and magistrates should always keep in the forefront of their minds the effectiveness of long sentences as a deterrent.

The public has a role, too. Anything suspicious, any scrap of information must be passed on to the police. Did someone come home on Sunday morning with marks on their face, for example?

The attacker stole his victim's mobile phone. Did someone you know suddenly appear in possession of a phone on Sunday?

The bigger problem is societal. How do we recognise that very small proportion of men who are pre-disposed to attacking women? What can be done about them?

Who do we train to notice the warning signs?

Only by solving this bigger issue, will we slowly begin to halt the tide of sexual violence against women.

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