Monday, February 14, 2011

Tory spokesman Bill Aitken should resign for implying rape victim was prostitute

The Tories are usually very supportive of victims of crime.

Ask David Cameron who, last year, said that a burglar doesn't deserve to have any human rights after he's entered your house.

Unfortunately, their sympathy for victims doesn't seem to extend to the crime of rape. Shadow Tory minister for Community Safety in the Scottish Parliament Bill Aitken has apparently asked the Sunday Herald whether a victim of an horrendous rape in Glasgow earlier this week was a prostitute. This woman was dragged down a lane by 3 men and raped. This was the latest in a series of similar assaults in Glasgow.

Let's be clear, here. If the woman had been a prostitute, there would never be any justification to force her to have sex against her will.  To even ask the question shows a mindset that is very worrying in anyone who's supposed to be representing justice. I certainly would not feel happy with him as a minister in the justice department if he can make that sort of assumption.

His comments also seem to suggest that if a woman is in a certain place at a certain time, then she has to have some culpability for any attack on her. He said:

“If this woman was dragged halfway through the town then it just couldn’t possibly happen. So has nobody asked her what she was doing in Renfrew Lane? 
“Somebody should be asking her what she was doing in Renfrew Lane. Did she go there with somebody? ... Now, Renfrew Lane is known as a place where things happen, put it that way.” 
Asked to clarify, he said: “It’s an area where a lot of the hookers take their clients. Now that may not have happened in this case. But you know ... what was happening? There’s always a lot more to these city-centre rapes than meets the eye.”
And asked whether there was a difference between rape of women who work as prostitutes and those who don't:
Well, the prostitute has possibly put herself in a position of some vulnerability.”
Equally worrying was his willingness to believe that drunk women habitually make up allegations of rape:
“The police say there’s a lot of drunken carry-ons that result in rape allegations which are subsequently dropped, put it that way,”
 There is not a shred of evidence to back that up.

Bill Aitken only has another month or so to go as an MSP as he's standing down at the election. Even so, it would be appropriate, I think, for him to resign if he is not willing to seriously re-think his comments. I might be inclined to forgive and forget if he were to agree to have a meeting with Rape Crisis Scotland, for example, and listen to what they have to say.  He might also want to have a look at two websites, This is not an invitation to rape me, and Not Ever which are there to tackle some of the myths and wrong attitudes around rape.

I don't think the rather half hearted apology he issued when he was confronted with the Sunday Herald transcript is enough. If he can't show that he's changed his attitude, Annabel Goldie should not allow him to hold a position relating to justice, or any senior position in her parliamentary party.


martijn said...

Good post.

It would be great if politicians would refrain from commenting on particular court cases.

If they think that those accused of rape should be put on public display in the town square, or that they should be acquitted if a woman's skirt was short then (much as I would despise both views) they should be able to say that. But they should leave judgements on individual cases to those whose job it is to do so.

Ewan said...

He has shown his true position and no apology can fix that.

It's not insignificant that while Renfrew Lane and Renfield Street actually intersect he speaks of the victim being "dragged halfway across the town" so he's prepared to distort facts to get his idiot point over

Anonymous said...

I'm someone who has an indirect experience of someone close who suffered Rape. It affects everything - partners, friends and family.

He could equally have said `it's the victim's own fault to have suffered a raid on the betting shop she was working at`!

After all, a job's a job - unless the idiot thinks that being with a prostitute entitles a man to do anything.


Related Posts with Thumbnails