It was a dark day yesterday. With the returning of a not guilty verdict in the Ched Evans Case it seems the British judiciary has taken a nasty turn.
A man formally convicted of rape has had his sentence overturned by his lawyers throwing the victim under a bus. Lawyers paid for by his future father in law who has thought nothing of defending a man who has cheated on his own daughter. Ched Evans admitted he had sex with the victim. Admitted he paid for the hotel room. Admitted it was his mate who escorted the victim to the hotel, under what pretext we don’t know. Admitted that he managed to persuade the receptionist to give him a key card. Told his brother and a mate which ground floor room they were in so they could film through the window on their mobile phones. Climbed onto the bed, had sex with a woman he admits he didn’t speak to, and then left via a fire exit.
And they say romance is dead.
If he didn’t speak to the woman, how did he know she was consenting to have sex with him, I mean you dont need to spend hours reading about consensual sex laws to know that if the lady in question hasn’t uttered a word she hasn’t consented. The victim suggested her drink was spiked (it certainly sounds like she was barely conscious) and she had no idea what was happening and therefore had not consented to anything.
It seems to me that the acquittal came about yesterday because the victim’s sexual past was dragged into the court room. Of what relevance is it to this case what this young woman may have agreed to in the past? Consent is consent. Without consent sex is rape. Just because the victim wasn’t dragged off the street or into a dark alley way doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape. Just because a woman said yes once, either to the perpetrator of the rape, or somebody else, but isn’t on this occasion does not mean rape has not occurred if she did not consent.
Let’s bear this in mind, shall we:
In the 30 years that WAR (Women Against Rape) have been campaigning, there have been changes in the way both the victim and the crime of rape itself is treated.
For instance, in 1991, rape within marriage became a crime. The 2003 Sexual Offences Act clarified the law, giving consent a legal definition in England and Wales.
With the help of WAR, in 1995 two women who worked as prostitutes won a private prosecution against a serial rapist after the Crown Prosecution Service refused to prosecute the case. The rapist was sentenced to 11 years.
97% of callers to Rape Crisis Lines knew their assailants prior to the assault. Ninety Seven Per Cent.
Arguably knowing the assailant doesn’t mean they had previously had consensual sex, of course but it goes some way to demonstrate that any previous history between the two parties involved is irrelevant. If she didn’t consent, it is rape.
Any history that does not involve both parties but is individual should be irrelevant in a rape case, yet we now have a case where this evidence has been used to free a convicted rapist. The fact that she was a prostitute or that he is a loving husband of two is absolutely of no relevance to the case. If there wasn’t consent where there was sex, there was rape.
It saddens me that conviction rates for rapes are lower than 6% currently and I suspect they are now going to fall lower. Why? Because women are going to be reluctant to come forward. They are going to feel that whilst there are now procedures in place right from the first moment they report the crime to support them (specialist rape suites, trained police officers, Victim Support, Rape Crisis organisations) if they get to court they are going to be destroyed by the defence barristers. They are going to have their sexual history laid bare for all to hear, including supporting friends and family.
Did you see National Treasure on Channel 4 this week? All the girls that claimed sexual assault or rape had their stories torn apart by the central character’s lawyers once they were in court. And whilst that was a made for TV drama the production team will have had advisors and experts on hand to make it as believable as possible. To demonstrate what happens to victims in court.
Ched Evans is now demanding his previous job back. Hoping he can go back to top flight football, supported by his adoring fiance and supportive family.
What of our victim? What for her now?
For her justice is not done.
Photo of the Old Bailey courtesy of Shutterstock