The Independent reported on that “debate” about rape at LSE that Luke Gittos of Spiked considers an important contribution to the “discussion around rape.” You can tell from the very first sentence that what we have here is not an important contribution but an opportunity for someone to be showily “provocative” and “controversial” about a crime against other people.
A leading barrister has waded into provocative territory with comments that people shouldn’t assume that in rape “the victim is utterly innocent.”
Right, just as it’s “provocative territory” to say that in murder or assault with a deadly weapon or grievous bodily harm people shouldn’t assume that “the victim is utterly innocent” – or to put it another way that the victim is a victim.
Here’s the thing about that: it doesn’t matter whether the victim is “utterly innocent” or not; the point is that people don’t get to murder or assault or batter or rape people, PERIOD. You don’t get to punish non-innocent aka guilty people by assaulting them, except in self-defense. Rape is never a form of self-defense. If a woman is about to stab you, rape isn’t the way to stop her.
Barbara Hewson attacked the “ideology of sexual victimisation” during a debate at the London School of Economics, and questioned the long-term damage rape causes.
The ideology is it. And I suppose there’s an ideology of vital victimization around murder, is there? Or in murder do we just accept that the victim is a victim, by definition?
The article in Critical Legal Thinking that Gittos so scorned had this to say about Hewson’s status as a “leading barrister”:
Prior to the LSE debate, Hewson was probably best known outside the legal world for her regular and often provocative contributions to online magazine Spiked, and her public defence of another barrister’s description of a 13-year old child sex abuse victim as ‘predatory’. Hewson has variously been referred to in the media as a ‘leading’ and ‘prominent’ barrister, but Hewson does not practice in criminal law and it is unclear what expertise she possesses with respect to the issue of rape that led the LSE to deem her qualified to take part in this debate.
The Indy quotes some of Hewson’s contribution to the “discussion around rape”:
“The first,” she said, “is the idea that rape and sexual abuse is very widespread but largely unrecognised even by victims themselves who need to be taught to realise what’s really happened.
“Secondly, that it has long term damaging effects. Thirdly that its morally absolutely unambiguous, the victim is utterly innocent and the victimiser is utterly guilty and this is infinitesimal. And finally that claims of victimisation must always be respected, anything less is victim-blaming.”
I look forward to her contributions to “debates” about murder and assault.