This post is a brief discussion of the idea of providing anonymity to people accused of sexual offences and may be triggering to some people. Read with care.
So, Paul O’Grady has just said something that has reminded me of a recent conversation:
The question of anonymity for accused rapists or sex offenders until convicted popped up on my radar earlier this week when someone asked me if I agreed with the idea. I had thought about it before from time to time but had never come to a conclusion. Now I thought it about it in the context of rape apologism and rape culture.
My answer was “Yes, they should have anonymity. As long as the criminal justice system is prepared to extend such anonymity to every other person who is accused of a crime until they are proven guilty.”
However, it is frequently suggested that such grace should be extended specifically to accused rapists/sex offenders because of the damage to their reputation that a false accusation can have. This very suggestion perpetuates the myth that rape allegations are likely to be false. We know this is a myth, the numbers speak for themselves.
It was reported (badly, no really badly) that two people a month are prosecuted for making false rape allegations. 24 people per year who may need to take a long hard look at themselves – I don’t know the circumstances. As opposed to the in excess of 50,000 police-recorded sexual offences in the 2011/12 period in England and Wales, with each person committing on average 2.3 offences that’s nearly 22,000 people who are a risk to us. Per year. That’s the offences the police know about. The proportion of women who did not report a serious sexual offence, whatever those reasons may be I am not here to question them, is overwhelming.
Conversely, I hear of few to no media reports of false accusations of murder, theft, fraud – you know, all those crimes where it is universally accepted that it is not the victim’s fault.
If anonymity is the way to go, it must be for everyone and it must be motivated by universal justice not rape apologism.