Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Serious Stuff

There are quite a few articles on the BBC website at the moment calling for specialised police squads to deal with rape cases (and one on how damaging it can be when these cases are mishandled).

I don't have much to say about this - obviously, I think anything that means the police treat rape seriously is a good idea - but on the otherhand, I'm just too cynical now. Even if the police do everything right, unless the judge and jury also take rape cases seriously, things are not going to improve. Wider societal change is needed to ensure that the latter parties take things seriously and narrow organisational changes can never be more than a quick fix. This is not to say that we should therefore not carry out those changes, but that this should be acknowledged alongside it.

I think the way I feel about this reflects the ambivalence I feel in relation to reporting rape to the police. If my daughter was raped, would I encourage her to report it? Yes - I would encourage her to do so, mainly because it's de facto the right thing to do (despite not having done this myself) and because rape conviction rates aren't going to get better if people don't report rape. However, I think I would have reservations that it would be the right thing to do in terms of helping her - a mistrial or a not-guilty verdict would arguably create more damage. I recognise that this is not an helpful attitude to take, but it's hard not to react to how things are rather than how things ought to be.

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