Morning Star 12 MARCH 2015
LISA LONGSTAFF from Women Against Rape and CRISTEL AMISS of the Black Women’s Rape Action Project examine the state’s attempts at obfuscation
Far from tackling rape, the government’s response to the review into the child rape epidemic in Oxford is a merely smokescreen to “manage” the outcry.
The government proposes to make it compulsory to report any underage sexual activity as child abuse. But this would increase the power of the state to control children rather than the power of children and their families to get justice.
It also hides child rape, calling it abuse or exploitation instead. And it disconnects child survivors from adult survivors, especially women. And let’s not forget that only 5.7 per cent of recorded rape ends in conviction and that 90 per cent of rapists get away with it.
In 2013, when seven of the Oxford rapists were convicted, we picketed the court to protest against both rape and racism. In Rochdale and Rotherham, like in Oxford, police used race and ethnicity as an excuse, claiming they didn’t arrest the perpetrators because they were worried they would be accused of racism.
Yet they have no qualms carrying out thousands of stop and search operations on men of colour who haven’t been accused of anything. Police are 28 times more likely to stop black men than white people and 10 times more likely to stop Asian Britons.
The government’s claim also presumes that the Pakistani community would stand with rapists rather than victims — a blatant piece of racism. The Pakistani community was outraged at the perpetrators and the authorities’ protection of the perpetrators. Several of the victims were from the same ethnic background as their rapists.
Reporting of child rape and sexual exploitation is not the problem. In Oxford, Nottingham, Northern Ireland, Rochdale, Rotherham, Wales, Westminster — and with Jimmy Savile and other serial attackers — children, family members, community workers and teachers reported the violence hundreds of times.
Some whistleblowers pursued the authorities and were persecuted for it, even losing their jobs. The cases of many children were discussed by police, social workers and even councillors. But the police did nothing. Even worse, they treated children like trash and threatened them, and in some cases even prosecuted them instead of their attackers. This is what police think of rape and rapists.
We now know that working-class children with the least social power are treated by police and social services as sexually available and disposable. One child was placed by social services with a known paedophile — everyone around them would have known that when it happened. One of Savile’s victims said about the violence she suffered: “That’s what we were for.”
Despite all this, questions about the corrupt relationships between the authorities and the rapists continue to be evaded. Victims and their solicitors have been asking why the rapists who have been reported already haven’t been arrested or charged.
Will those whose job it was to protect children and investigate crime be held to account, and by whom? Will police, social workers and politicians be sacked and prosecuted for having failed in their duty of care and having perverted the course of justice, or will they get away with covering up rape and shielding violent criminals once again?
We have put 37 detailed questions about Rotherham to MPs and have received no answers.
All we know is this — an epidemic of rape of children has been “discovered.” The authorities are trying to manage it rather than address it.
This treatment of rape is at one with what we have often faced trying to get rapists charged and convicted over four decades. The only way that “lessons will be learnt” is if those in power who rape or collaborate with rapists are arrested, prosecuted and convicted. Without justice, the only lesson ever learnt is how to get away with rape of both children and adults.