Kind To Be Cruel: Female Judge Blames Women For Rape

By Daniel Margrain

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As recently as fifty years ago, the courts in Britain didn’t recognize marital rape. In other words, during that time it was legal for married men to have sex with their wives without their consent. A recent rape case  in Manchester presided over by a female judge appeared to suggest there is still a long way to go before attitudes to the crime of rape perpetuated against women are satisfactorily addressed.

Judge Lindsey Kushner’s claim that women are at greater risk of being raped if they get drunk, was rightly condemned by Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird. In her final line in her final criminal trial, Kushner said:

“I don’t think it’s wrong for a judge to beg women to take actions to protect themselves. That must not put responsibility on them rather than the perpetrator. How I see it is burglars are out there and nobody says burglars are OK but we do say: Please don’t leave your back door open at night, take steps to protect yourselves.”

However, this analogy falls apart because it fails to recognize there is a history in Britain of blaming women for sexual assaults committed against them rather than putting the blame where it belongs – on the attackers. The same line of reasoning is not applicable to drunk men who, for instance, happen to get mugged in the street. In such cases, judges will rarely place the onus for such attacks on the male victim.

In jailing the rapist in Manchester, Kushner said there was “absolutely no excuse” for sex attacks. But she contradicted herself moments later after adding the caveat, “Men gravitate towards vulnerable women.” She insisted that while women were entitled to “drink themselves into the ground”, their “disinhibited behaviour” could put them in danger and they were “less likely to be believed” than a sober victim.

The implication that women can do as they please with their own bodies by drinking themselves silly, but that this scenario means they are more likely to get raped, effectively shifts the onus for the crime from the perpetrator to the victim and will almost certainly prevent the latter from coming forward in the future.

Despite judge Kushner’s contradictory comments that appear to be more suited to 1967 than 2017, there have been no shortage of men and women who have come to her defence. Others, that include a victim of rape, seem at best confused about the issue, perhaps understandably given the trauma involved. Nevertheless, it’s inexcusable how anybody else in the sober light of day (excuse the pun) could regard the judge’s comments as anything other than outrageous.

The fact that the controversy was not regarded as being worthy of prominent coverage on mainstream TV news channels is indicative of how societal attitudes regarding such matters seem to be in reverse. Thankfully, the issue was covered in some length by LBC broadcaster, Maajid Nawaz, whose clarity of thought was a welcome counterbalance to the illogical and contradictory points made by some of the callers to his show.

Nawaz’s opening salvo was lucid and convincing. Exposing Kushner’s false burglary-rape analogy, the LBC presenter remarked:

“There isn’t a history of hundreds and perhaps thousands of years of homeowners being blamed for burglary. But there is a history of hundreds and perhaps thousands of years of women being blamed for rape.”

Nawaz continued:

“The problems I have with the kind of remarks uttered by the judge in public, is that victim-blaming is part of a slippery slope. Where do we draw the line? Do we say if a woman’s skirt is too short, should she also bear a level of responsibility for a man (or woman) sexually abusing her? Where does this stop? Where is behaviour ever acceptable for somebody to say, ‘well you shouldn’t of done that'”?

The LBC presenter added:

“For me, this comes down to the following question: What sort of country do we want to live in? Do we want to live in a country where women have to take increasing measures to stop being sexually attacked, or do we want to live in the kind of country that encourages women to wear, eat and drink what they like, and don’t expect to be attacked for doing so?

The alternative is the slippery slope [towards fascism and religious extremism]. In other words, why stop with being drunk? Should women be prevented from wearing short skirts and, if they resist and are subsequently raped, are they to be held responsible? Why stop there?

Why not insist that women wear their hair in a bun or be prevented from wearing make-up and lipstick on some spurious basis that rapists might find it attractive? Why stop there? Isn’t it possible that rapists will justify their predatory actions on the basis they find women’s faces to be attractive and therefore they should be forced to cover them up with a veil like the women who are under the control of the Taliban? “

In other words, the corollary of the illogical line of reasoning of judge Kushner is that the right of women to be able to go about their everyday business should be restricted in order to prevent them from being raped. The attitudes of judges, both male and female, to sexual assaults on women, continue in 2017 to belong in the dark ages.

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5 thoughts on “Kind To Be Cruel: Female Judge Blames Women For Rape

  1. First: The judge isn’t wrong. What the judge said, for those who don’t actually read the article:

    “I don’t think it’s wrong for a judge to beg women to take actions to protect themselves. That must not put responsibility on them rather than the perpetrator. How I see it is burglars are out there and nobody says burglars are OK but we do say: Please don’t leave your back door open at night, take steps to protect yourselves.”

    Nothing about that statement is in ANY WAY incorrect, despite the article’s claims.

    Let’s break it down.

    “I don’t think it’s wrong for a judge to beg women to take actions to protect themselves.”

    Does anybody think being safety conscious is a bad thing? If I tell you to cross the road, are you going to look both ways before you do, or are you going to just saunter across without any precautions? That a judge advocates taking some preventative measures is simple common sense.

    “That must not put responsibility on them rather than the perpetrator.”

    This is a SUPER important sentence. This divorces the notion that the judge is in ANY WAY blaming the victims. This very clearly states that the rapist is still a rapist, and that the responsibility of the action lies solely with the rapist.

    “How I see it…. take steps to protect yourselves.”

    The last bit is an acknowledgment that women need to do more to protect themselves and ensure they aren’t in a situation where a rapist can take advantage of them with impunity.

    Examples: Pouring your own drinks. Travelling with friends. Having a designated driver take you home instead of walking through seedy neighbourhoods. Caring a protective device like a taser.

    These are all resonable and sensible precautions.

    Now, the article goes on to discuss other things the judge said, like, “Men gravitate towards vulnerable women.”

    Correct. Although in this case it should read rapists tend towards vulnerable women. Just like a bank robber will hit a bank with little security. Or a car thief will steal a car that has the keys in the ignition before attempting to hijack one that doesn’t. Or a mugger will rob a passed out drunk instead of fighting a cognisant, sober linebacker.

    At no point has this judge said anything about women having responsibility for being raped. Kushner wants women to do more to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of rape. This is common sense.

    Another direct analogy of safety measures: If you live in an area where armed robbery is common, installing security bars and bullet proof glass at your work is probably a prudent idea. If you don’t, and you get robbed 6 times, it’s not your fault, technically, but you aren’t doing anything to prevent it.

    That’s why we have devices that are built specifically to prevent crime. If you consistently fail to acknowledge that crime exists and do nothing to prevent becoming a victim, don’t be surprised when you do. Does this change the fact that the responsible party is a criminal? No. Did it stop you from becoming a victim? Also no.

    In an ideal world, there would be ZERO rapists. We don’t live in an ideal world. We live in the real world. If you wear a shirt that says, “Free, juicy, wet pussy begging for cock,” and then wander around at 2 AM, drunk, drugged and in dark alleys alone: It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody to discover that a rapist trolling for a target saw the easy game and pounced. In fact, if you do decide to do this, call the police and tell them where you’ll be. That way, when the rapist does take the bait, at least we can arrest the bastard.

    And when the judge says, “The disinhibited behaviour of people who have drunk themselves into the ground puts them in danger of being less likely to be believed,” what she’s saying is that if you’re too drunk to remember where you were, how is a judge supposed to know if you didn’t grant consent?

    Alright, that’s my piece. Bring on the flame barrels.

    Like

    1. Reaper, Rape is a crime of violence – no If’s, no But’s. The fact that the judge in this case used caveats, invokes the If’s and the Buts.

      Second, it’s not the appropriate time or place within the public domain to offer advice – it’s a private matter to be discussed among family and friends.

      By making it public, her caveats end up undermining the potential of future rape victims who have been raped while drunk, going to the authorities. Why?

      Because the kinds of comments by judges like this will inevitably deter them. There are no caveats with a crime of violence like this – rape is rape when the person raped doesn’t consent to sex. Whether the person raped was drunk or not, is irrelevant. If she is sober enough not to consent, which in this case she was, then it’s rape – no ifs, no buts. Any messages to the contrary amount, in effect, to apologetics.

      That’s why I was clear with my heading which I stand by. You say that women need to do more to protect themselves, but where do you draw the line? This is the kind of slippery slope I referred to in the article.

      In reality, there is no line and there can’t be a line. Your argument is illogical in this respect. Whether you are aware of it or not, you too, by making such a statement means you are defending the indefensible.

      Using your line of flawed argumentation, there would be no cases of rape in strict Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia where women are covered from head to toe and intoxicants are forbidden. But of course, we know, this is not the case. That’s where your argument falls down, big time.

      Why do rape apologists like you always seem to compare rape to theft, rather than another violent crime? Is it because you think property is as important as bodily autonomy, or because you see a woman’s* sexuality as a commodity?

      Of course, judges rarely, if ever, talk about men being raped, except as an argument against taking rape of women seriously. So we have a different set of standards applied to men and women.

      Judges never use caveats in relation to drunk men who are mugged. Why is it still the case that it’s regarded as permissable for women in rape cases to be cross examined in totally irrelevant ways such as when prosecutors remark on their clothing?

      But thanks for reading and responding.

      Like

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