When a crime is a punishment or a lesson taught to the victim.

Sharing a guest post by PD.

Do the circumstances of a rape matter?

I  live in the UK, currently there is a lot of discussion regarding this rape case – Predatory soccer stars, a drunken girl and a very seedy night at the Premier Inn: RICHARD PENDLEBURY revisits the disturbing events that led to the rape trial of Ched Evans [link].

There is additional controversy because of comments made by a female presenter who suggested that the punishment given to this football player was sufficient because although the attack was ‘unpleasant’, his victim was very drunk (thereby justifying the attack).

Ironically,  this presenter and her daughter have now in turn been threatened with rape by trolls on her Twitter page (Rape threat to Judy’s daughter: Richard Madeley to call in police after Twitter trolls’ vile attacks on Chloe)

[IHM: This. Rape is seen as a punishment or a lesson for women. Almost anything a woman does can be used to justify this ‘punishment’. The presenter here, being a woman,  is being viewed as deserving of this punishment. The threats too are meant to be ‘insulting’ and are meant to be viewed as ‘punishments’.] 

Something has been bugging me about this case and the subsequent furore caused by the various opinions expressed.

1. Do the circumstances of a rape matter? The end result is the same,  a woman is violated against her will.  It’s almost like saying some forms of abuse are worse than others or some murders are worse than others.

2. Regardless of the the circumstances or whose fault it was,  these two men went out that night looking for a girl to take back to their hotel.  They came across a girl who could barely stand straight and decided to take her back to the hotel despite knowing that she was in no fit state to give consent (if it was given at all in the first place). The is something very creepy about sober men picking up drunk girls for the sole purpose of intercourse and then justifying their actions by placing the blame firmly on the girl’s shoulders.

3. Putting myself in the girls’ shoes, it was indeed very reckless of her to go out on her own,  getting so drunk that she could barely stand and not making provisions to make it back home safely. Being an overly cautious person by nature,  this is something I would never do and it’s hard for me to understand why she would put herself in such a situation.  But does this justify what happened to her?

I’m interested to hear what your readers make of this story and the subsequent public view/backlash.

Related Posts:

What makes Men Rape?

Yet another rape that was not about lust but about aggression, revenge and putting the victim in her place.

Boys can make mistakes.

Rapist said that coming from Afghanistan meant he didn’t understand what ‘consent’ was.

“I am safe because I’m very careful in the way I behave and dress in public, on the streets.”

“Sometimes it seems like every single thing I do has the potential to be something ‘provocative’.” 

Have a Good Time in India, Sister (Gounderbrownie)

Are we trying to threaten Indian women with rapes as punishment for modernity, independence and self reliance?

“As long as the men do not understand that they CANNOT and WILL NOT get away with such behavior and criminal acts, the rape culture will not go away”

Controlling crimes against women: What works, what doesn’t work.

This is what rapists do when there is no fear of punishment.

How Victim Blaming confuses rapists, police and the society about when exactly does non-consensual-sex becomes a crime.

The rapists often don’t see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don’t expect the victims to report them.

23 thoughts on “When a crime is a punishment or a lesson taught to the victim.

  1. A lot of people talk about grey areas in such matters, and I guess there are some at times. We have to consider it case by case. That being said, consider the following scenario (some of them might not sound apt or even politically correct): A man so sloshed he has no clue where he is. He is equally vulnerable but we don’t look at this condition with the kind of moral outrage and indignation we heap on girls/women whose drinking gets out of hand. Do you see such “plastered” men being taken advantage of? And if such a thing happened, what would be the extent to which we would hold them morally responsible? I’ll go on a tangent here and bring in this incident wherein a woman in labour, waiting for her doctor, was molested by a ward boy. She was in no condition to help herself either. How about we heap scorn people who are emotionally unstable, depressed enough to let loose their grip on rationality… and justify taking advantage of their condition. yes, you owe it to yourself not to abuse your body but along similar lines, why does it possess men to pile on to someone who has no agency, be it temporarily or permanently. Why don’t we reserve our moral judgment and scorn for people who go OUT of their way to harm others? Why is being good such a luxury? Those men could very well, being in control of their faculties, look out for a fellow woman, yeah? Is it so unfathomable? It’s only the moral police that’ll bring up the girl’s state of druken stupor into question. As a woman, I have as much right to get drunk as a fellow man, however weird that sounds. Yes it’s good to refrain, and this is spoken in a cautionary spirit, but a drunk woman cannot be held liable for being raped. It is the person who uses violence, when in possession of all his rational faculties, that is doing the bad thing, because it is he who is in a state of clarity and can decide on the merits of his actions. To go at someone thinking “she’s asking for it” is plain slut-shaming, typical patriarchal mindset. It does no one any good.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I have not looked up this case, but my response is to the three points you raised.

    1. Yes, they do matter. The end result is not always the same. Sometimes, a woman can end up dead or spend the rest of her life as a vegetable, like in this case. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aruna_Shanbaug_case

    Some murders are worse than others as well. For example, when you torture before killing someone or if you desecrate the body of the murder, this is taken into account during the trials.

    2. That’s classic victim blaming. The men are rapists, the woman is the victim. There is not a lot to discuss here.

    3. It does not matter if the girl was drunk or sober, wearing sexy clothes or fully covered, young or old, married or single, straight or lesbian, rich or poor. If she does not give her consent to sex, it is rape. Rape is not justified. You don’t have to understand why she would behave in a certain manner. Being reckless is not a crime. Not everyone will be like you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing justifies rape. EVER.

    Its a theft of personal space and right to consent.

    If some guys with a lot of cash on them were drunk and I were to steal their money, would it be justified? Agreed, they shouldn’t have gotten drunk, but nothing lets me off the hook for thieving from them.

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    • Good example. I guy could be very drunk and someone could get him to sign away some important assets of his or max out his credit cards or strip him, leave him naked in a public place just to humiliate him. Those are all crimes. The man getting drunk is his problem, not a crime. The person who took advantage of his drunken state is the criminal.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad you asked. I’ve been following this piece of news and have had several discussions with colleagues who think she ‘shouldn’t have been that drunk in the first place’. I think my colleagues are nuts.
    1. Yes. The Nirbhaya rape was more gruesome than most other rapes I have heard about. Raping a clueless 2 year old is worse than raping an adult who has some idea of what’s going on and in all likelihood will sustain fewer life-threatening injuries.
    2. Bullshit. No consent, no sex: anything that violates this rule is rape. Mentioning the girl’s drunken stupor is akin to saying it was her fault because she was ‘asking for it’. If a drunk man were to rape a sober woman, it’d still be the woman’s fault for not recognizing the man’s intentions – it’s almost as if women are expected to have a radar of some sort. Classic victim blaming.
    3. No, it doesn’t. Nothing justifies forcing yourself on another person.

    Liked by 3 people

    • This reminds me of one of the most misogynistic things I have ever heard in my life. During the Nirbhaya rape trial, an acquaintance said to me, “Whether the knife falls on the fruit, or the fruit falls on the knife, it’s always the fruit which gets cut”.

      Sometimes, I am glad that I cannot look into other people’s minds. Things that I consider barbaric, preposterous and unfair are for some people, “just the way things are”

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  5. One of the footballers was found guilty because the woman hadn’t willingly gone with him-the other wasn’t because the jury believed she had willingly gone with him.
    At the end of the day it rests on whether or not you trust the mans testimony. If you believe him then the woman willingly went back to his hotel room with him and they consented to sex, her being drunk and regretting it in the morning does not constitute rape. If you don’t believe him then she was forced.
    It is a predatory thing to do though, to look for drunk women and convince them to have sex with you.

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  6. 1. Yes circumstances matter and a case by case approach should be taken. Some rape cases may be more gruesome or brutal from the others and the victim may need more help. But the actual healing process from rape itself will be different but difficult in each case.

    2. It is completely predatory. The men basically took advantage of someones vulnerable state and it is absolutely disgusting and criminal! And maybe contexts are different but its similar idea to slavery or caste system – where the one on top feels a sense of entitlement or power because they are fully aware of the helplessness of the other. It is clear lack of respect for another human being.

    3. Yes drinking too much can be termed stupid but what happened to her was the fault of only one person and that is the rapist. Also this case is very similar to date rapes where the perpetrator gets the woman incapacitated by use of drinks or drugs. The primary issue here is that the woman was unable to give consent. We could start putting rape victims into different sub groups and different degrees of culpability – but the only group that will benefit from this is the rapist who can play on that!

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    • No, that’s not what people are saying at all. What they are saying is that different circumstances should be treated differently.

      In this specific case, for example, nobody is saying that it isn’t rape. Most people seem to agree that because the girl was in no state to give consent, it is tantamount to rape regardless of how “painless” it was.

      At the same time, it is also true that there are more painful and more traumatic experiences that should be dealt with more severely than this case – such as the Nirbhaya episode.

      Like

  7. Everyone has answered much better than I could, but I have to say this about your point 3.

    “Putting myself in the girls’ shoes, it was indeed very reckless of her to go out on her own, getting so drunk that she could barely stand and not making provisions to make it back home safely. Being an overly cautious person by nature, this is something I would never do and it’s hard for me to understand why she would put herself in such a situation.”

    Seems to me you’re trying to put her in your shoes. You’re saying you would never do such a thing, you don’t understand why she would do this to herself.. You don’t seem to relate much to her at all. (and this is ok!)

    we cannot relate to some of the choices that other people make. But we don’t have to relate. We simply have to respect their right to make such a choice. Acknowledge that the guy who crosses the road after waiting for 11 minutes as well as the one who makes a mad dash to the other side, neither deserves to die on the road.

    Whether a woman is drunk or sober, it has nothing to do with “Does she deserve it?”. Having a couple drinks more than what is wise is just that: having a couple drinks more than what is wise. It is not an invitation for amoral sleazeballs to come and rape you.

    Liked by 8 people

  8. I dont understand why this discussion that whether girl was drunk or not, what she wore , what was time happens. It may give an opportunity of committing crime but Whatever is the situation how it can reduce the gravity of crime.

    We never hear this kind of “deserve it” or “asked it” kind of statement in case of murder,road accident,kidnapping etc.

    Crime should be treated as crime.

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  9. Dear PD,
    I am unable to comprehend what made you write point#3 the way you did.Why couldn’t it be:

    3. it was indeed very reckless of her to go out on her own,  getting so drunk that she could barely stand and not making provisions. But does this justify what happened to her?

    Is this what everyone does when they hear of a rape? Do they put themselves in the victim’s shoes (or as a commenter above pointed, and I think rightly so, put the victim in their own shoes) and wonder why the victim had to do such-and-such/be so-and-so, etc? Is this how judgements are formed, and then passed on the victim, thus paving way for victim-blaming?

    If so, what prompts this line of thought? What kind of moral tales did we hear growing up that led to this kind of reasoning?

    Just trying to understand how things work.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Why is this a grey area? I think raping a drunk woman is a much worse crime than raping a sober woman. The former is in no state to think, object or fight back. It is so creepy. It’s like taking advantage of a mentally disabled person or an older person or a person in a wheelchair. How low people have to sink to take advantage of someone who cannot protest or fight back.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Like many others said, I don’t think it was her fault. But when we speak about victim blaming, it’s not only rape victims who get victim blamed, is it? Instances like an elderly couple staying alone and being robbed and killed – we always hear people say they should not have been staying alone. Could they not have stayed with their son/daughter? Here also, it’s not the elderly couple at fault, but the murderer. In case of a mugging or a chain snatching, we always hear things being said like, ‘it was known to be a lonely area, should they have been out at that time of night?’. Even in case of an accident caused by say a drunk driver where the sober driver in another car died, people tend to say that he should not have been out so late at night on a Friday or Saturday evening. There are bound to be drunk drivers at that time of night. Just trying to understand here.. isn’t victim blaming more general and does it not happen in case of just about any crime?

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    • @aparna
      You are right.Victim blaming in general is not confined to rape victims.But in case of general crimes, two things do not happen
      1.letting the actual criminal go scot free
      2. character assassination of the actual victim.
      There is seldom doubt as to whether or not the crime actually took place and whether it was unpleasant for the victim.
      Have you heard stuff like ‘May be the fellow who got mugged enjoyed all the attention’ or ‘Perhaps the old couple wanted to get killed, thats why they were living all alone’ etc.
      Do we ever hear accounts of people going and killing/mugging female relatives of the guy who killed/mugged their near and dear ones?
      Ever came across a victim of mugging being asked to marry the mugger, to make things right?
      Victims of just about any other crime do not face the same amount of trauma as a result of victim blaming that rape victims do.
      Other crimes in general are just that -crimes.Rape gets a whole other unneccesary angle to it.Honor.Shame.

      Liked by 1 person

    • A victim is a victim, a crime is a crime. Full stop.

      But why always analyze events as “victim blaming”. When you go to a petrol station it is written everywhere “do not smoke, do not use fire or mobile, risk of explosion”. Similarly, states and NGOs try to make people aware of risks of accidents ; beware of gas, don’t smoke in bed, wear a helmet on a two-wheeler, don’t drink and drive, eat healthily etc…

      Let’s face it, life is dangerous, and I wish people would stop going on and on about their RIGHTS to go out at any time of night in any place in any dress in any state of counsciousness. Yes, it is indeed your right. Just like it is your right to jump off a cliff if you feel like it – but it may be wise to do it with a parachute. If you want to get out of harm, it may be useful to learn a few survival skills and assess your risks. I wish young people in the UK would stop binge drinking and stop believing life is a Disney movie. There are predators out there, make sure you are not their next lunch. For your own sake. You can’t put a policeman behind everybody.

      That is called making people aware, street-wise, and empowering them. It’s education not victim blaming.

      Like

  12. If a person is intoxicated, they cannot consent to sex. So yes – it is rape and it is predatory. I wonder how many other people he raped.

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  13. Pingback: “Even if the sexual intercourse was forceful it was not forcible and contrary to the wishes and consent of the deceased.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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