Thursday, August 14, 2008

UK Rape Victims Compensation Reduced If They Drank Before Being Raped

From the Guardian:

Rape victims seeking compensation are having their payouts reduced if they had been drinking before they were attacked.

Campaigners called on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) to end the application to rape victims of a clause that says awards in all types of cases can be cut if consumption of alcohol "contributed to the circumstances that gave rise to the injury".

In the past year 14 rape victims - 1% of rape-related applications - were told they would get less money because of alcohol consumption, the CICA confirmed.

When one woman who reported rape, after suspected spiking of her drink, had her compensation reduced by a quarter, she successfully appealed the ruling which practiced victim blaming. It's good that she was able to appeal this ruling, but it is very bad that any official is making rulings which support victim blaming.

Even on non-rape cases I'm not sure that this practice doesn't fall into the trap of baselessly blaming victims. But of course, there are those who view victim blaming as the right thing to do.

From Michael White's political blog:

If I get glassed in a pub during a fight which arose when I was drunk it's not quite the same as if I took the broken bottle in my eye as I soberly walked in, is it?

This comparison is contradictory since walking into a pub -- even sober -- could be seen as deliberately putting himself in danger of being hurt by rowdy drinkers.

If I wear conspicuously expensive clothes - or accent - and a Rolex watch in a rough part of town, drunk or sober, it's a crime to mug me. But, as the old saying goes, I was "asking for it" a bit, wasn't I? [...]

You put yourself at risk, just as you do by speeding when the idiot coming the other way loses control of the car: his fault, but you were going too fast or (another common one) tail-gating. [...]

Yet I get into a lot of trouble with women friends whenever I suggest they have a responsibility to themselves to think about what they're wearing where they're wearing it. Ditto how much they drink.

If White's analogy is correct then a host of factors other than alcohol consumption must also reduce victim compensation. That none of these non-alcohol comparables are factored into compensation reveals that these comparisons are nothing more than excuses. Crime victims aren't docked for wearing Rolex's.

To show how ludicrous this so-called valid "asking for it" comparison is I've modified an email sent to Courtney at Feministing:

I read your opinions about the MTA raising awareness about [intimidation and muggings] on the subways and found it very naive and written from a very [white-upper-class]-privileged perspective.

You are correct that [men] have been dealing with this kind of stuff from [other] guys for years, but what about how [men] dress [and what they carry] in the subways?

Today (after reading your opinion) while on the subway, I saw a [man] sit near me with a very [large computer bag] and [wearing a Rolex while listening to one of the newest iPods]...[he] looked [loaded with cash]! I totally stared at [his stuff] any chance I could get...which is probably why [he carried that cool stuff] right? I also see scores of [men] with those [Italian suits on], so you see their [expensive gadgets] bobbling around under the [suit].

That sounds like blaming the victim right? Well when you leave almost nothing to the imagination, it doesn't take much for it to run wild.

This is not to say you whip your [knife] out at any moment or press your [knife] on any [rich dude] that wears a hot outfit, but were they "asking for it"? I know you are probably fuming by now, but from the looks of your picture you probably don't get [mugged] much, so maybe you are jealous of all of the [rich dudes] with the big [bank rolls] that get some action underground.

The last part of this modified letter doesn't merely view victims as being foolishly vulnerable but views them as actively inviting violation because to this letter writer being violated is clearly the goal. If you are on the subway and others can crave what you got then you want them to take it from you.

That would be a very handy rationalization for muggers to have as it would help them feel like they are doing nothing wrong when they stab first, rob later.

Don't we all just assume that the visiting businessman who got murdered in a high-crime section of a city had a death wish? Don't we demand proof that this man wasn't comitting suicide by displaying his wealth?


Then why is this same type of assumption accepted by so many people when it made about those who are the victims of sex crimes?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:42 AM   2 comments links to this post


At August 14, 2008 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Marcella for showing so astutely how crass these claims are. Yes indeed we should be asking ourselves everytime a businessman is murdered in a 'risky area' did he have a death wish or was he masochistic and wanted to be murdered.

Of course taking this to its logical conclusion this means anyone who has been mugged, robbed, burgled or even murdered is responsible because they did not take sufficient precautions.

Yet in all crimes apart from rape the focus is never on the victim's partial/full responsibility but the alleged perpetrator's actions. But of course rape is never rape but always something different. Excuses are endless in respect of exonerating male rapists and blaming the female victims.

Fact is a crime is a crime which is why there are laws against mugging, burglery, murder and yes even rape, although rape is only rape within a very narrow male-centered definition. Reason is because laws were originally created for and by men NOT WOMEN. Women were not seen as autonomous human beings so therefore they had no rights.

At August 14, 2008 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if you saw the article by Roger Graef (yes, THE Roger Graef), in yesterday's Daily Mail? It's entitled,"Don't Blind Drunk Women Bear Any Responsibility for What Happens to Them?" Once again, it's all our fault for being female...


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