David Cameron and Rape

Our shadow Prime Minister, David Cameron, is pitching for the female vote with promises of tougher sentences for rape and for schools to teach boys that “no means no”. (Evening Standard, 12/11/2007.)

According to Tory research, just 5% of rape cases reported to the police lead to a guilty verdict, down from 33% 30 years ago. (This compares with 20% in the Netherlands, 10% in Italy and 12% in Ireland.) It is also reported that 75% of rape victims do not report the crime. Now, this is a curious figure. How on earth do they know how many women (and men) do not report this act – if they don’t report it?

I am also curious about under what circumstances these instances of rape are committed. Is it the usual case of, maybe, date rape, or the stranger leaping out from behind bushes? I am willing to bet that by far the greatest number of rapes happen in marriage or long term relationships – where the bulk of all violence to and murder of women take place. Did David Cameron’s Tory researchers go around asking married women how many times they had been raped by their husbands? I somehow think not. This is, after all, the party who is also campaigning under the banner of “family values” and strong marriages.

A strange thing, rape – its importance is exaggerated and underrated at the same time. It is exaggerated when women are led to believe that if they have been raped, they have somehow been defiled and commit suicide as a result. It is underrated when considering how widespread and swept under the carpet it must be in marriage – where two people are locked together in financial serfdom due to mortgages, debts and children, often with few escape routes as a result.

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