Rape: Myths and Media

Alison Saunder, head of the CPS yesterday warned that the demonisation of young women is contributing to the failure to secure more convictions of suspected rapists. In an interview with the Guardian she states that a debate needs to be opened up about the myths and stereotypes that jurors bring with them when considering cases of rape and that she believes that this may not only help prosecutions, but also prevent opportunistic offenders who think they can get away with it because some women don’t complain because they feel they might be vilified and that making a formal complaint might be worse for them in the long run.

Well, lets look for what the hot rape topic of interest is at the moment.  Oh yes, Greg Kelly: TV anchor and son of the New York City Police Commissioner.  While this story is generating quite a stir across the pond, it is primarily only being reported in the Daily Mail in the UK.  Lets take a look at their coverage.

The first article was published on  27th January.  The substantive of the article is that a woman has reported a rape by Greg Kelly, Fox anchorman and son of NYPD commissioner.  It has been leaked by the police that she has stated that she became pregnant as a result of the attack and subsequently terminated the pregnancy.  He has denied the assault and has requested leave of absence while the investigation is underway.

The second article on 29th January, reports that “leaks”coming from the police could undermine the investigation into the crime.  These anonymous statements given by someone claiming to be from within the police department and with detailed knowledge of the cases alleges that there is proof that the sexual contact was consensual, that she was drunk, that she contacted him afterwards and that the police consider her allegation is “bullshit”.

The third article on 30th January reports on further leaks and that these leaks were putting at risk a sucessful prosecution of the crime.  This “police source” gives a description of the meeting of the victim and the rapist, of contact prior to the assault, of the lowbrow nature of the bar that they drank in, of where the assault took place, offers an opinion on her behaviour following the assault and ends stating that Kelly is unlikely to be charged with the crime.

Now there is a hell of a story here.  A serious sexual assault has been reported with serious physical, emotional and financial consequences for the victim and both the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrator is being undermined by leaks coming from the police department where his father is a commissioner.  The same police department which in May last year two police officers who raped a drunken woman were acquitted of all charges other than “official misconduct”, and who in October failed to prosecute the rape of a hotel cleaner by the Dominique Strauss-Khan.

Thats not really the story thats being told tho, is it?

The story that’s being told is of a slut who got pissed in a sleazy bar, shagged a “cute” TV personality and war veteran behind her boyfriend’s back, got caught out and made up a false allegation.

Is it any wonder that people serving on rape cases fall for rape myths and stereotypes; that women who report rape fear that they will be vilified and that reporting a rape might be worse for them in the long term when they see the myths, vilifications and damage being played out across national newspapers almost daily.  The Daily Mail press coverage – like that of the New York tabloids – isn’t designed to expose crime or corruption, but to serve as a warning to any uppity sluts who find a man attractive, flirt or go for a drink with him and then have the audacity to say no.

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