Friday, August 31, 2007

Courts show their contempt for victims of domestic violence,,2155428,00.html

I felt totally sick and disgusted to read this article a week ago and it provides all the proof you need that we have a male dominated legal system which doesn't give a damn about the rights of women. The article is about two recent cases in which men were found guilty of horrific acts of domestic violence yet were let off with a miniscule fine.

The first sick bastard we hear about is Stuart Brown. For 7 years he made his wife Carol McEwan's life a misery before ultimately being convicted of dragging her out of bed and punching her 24 times. What words did the magistrate use to describe him? A "vile monster" perhaps? Wrong, he described him as being of "good character" before handing out a fine of £500. This woman-hating pig has so far been allowed to keep his £100,000 a year job as a hospital anaesthetist. His former partner on the other hand will have to live with the abuse he subjected her to for the rest of her life.

The second evil swine is Colin Read. As soon as he had married his partner Elizabeth Axe last year he reverted to being the savage misogynist he really is. In one horrendous attack he slashed her feet after she failed to make a sandwich for him. Eight days later he branded her on the back with an iron, causing severe burns, after complaining she hadn't ironed one of his shirts. Read, a wealthy management consultant on a £90,000 a year salary, was fined just £2,000 for these vicious acts of violence. He didn't even have to undergo a community sentence because according to the judge he would be "too busy" to carry it out.

Noone who has ever been a victim of domestic violence themselves can begin to imagine what these two women have been through and it must be a sickening blow to watch the person who subjected you to so much pain and misery being let off with not even a slap on the wrist. According to the Guardian just 4% of the men responsible for domestic violence ever go to prison. Yet for a crime of this nature anything other than prison is a complete insult to the victim and will do nothing to make men like these think twice in future.

The legal system in this country is rotten to the core and is clearly far more interested in upholding the interests of patriarchy and of capitalism than it is in getting justice for the victims of those who hold all the power and wealth. Maybe there will be no progress until we get rid of all the overpaid middle-class middle-aged men who make up the vast majority of judges and magistrates and who seem to have no capacity for seeing things from the perspective of anyone else, or at least from the perspective of anyone who doesn't have exactly the same social profile as themselves.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Only 14% of Scots think it's acceptable to view porn!

After a long absense (and 5 weeks on holiday in France and Switzerland) I've decided to come back and hopefully start posting more regularly to my blog. I think this article from yesterday's Herald (which made me happy and angry at the same time) is worth commenting on:

Firstly we hear the rather surprising figures from a recent poll that only 14% of Scots think it's acceptable to view porn and 10% to pay for sex. This is really positive and while I'm sure many of the participants oppose them for the wrong reasons it suggests that the sex industry, despite its continuous onslaught of patriarchal capitalist propaganda, has been failing miserably to change the attitudes of the Scottish public. In fact according to the article pornography and prostitution have became less acceptable over the last few years. I think it's really vital that feminists build on this almost universal opposition to the commodification of sex by pushing for tougher laws and ensuring our perspective is the one which is heard when the issue is debated in public.

The second part of the article, referring to the same survey, discusses public attitudes towards rape, finding that 30% of men and 25% of women believe a woman who's drunk to be to some extent responsible for being raped. 26% of respondents think in the same way in regards to women wearing revealing clothing and 34% of men and 29% of women when it comes to flirting. I suppose one positive thing the survey shows is that such views are far less prevalent among younger people - 7% of adults under 24 believe women who were flirting can be held at least partly responsible compared to 50% of those over 65. And a clear majority of those surveyed do hold the view that women are never responsible for being raped.

But why is it that so many people still feel the way they do? Could it be, as an SSP comrade suggested, that sex is very much seen as something which men do to women and that it is women who have the responsibility to say no and resist - with getting drunk being considered an abdication of that responsibility? The above survey was carried out by the Scottish Executive in an attempt to tackle the miserable conviction rate for reported rapes which last year fell below 4% for the first time. What sort of society are we living in, we should be asking, when less than 4 out of every 100 women subjected to rape ever see their attackers brought to justice, when rape victims are hardly ever taken seriously, when they have their stories laughed at and ridiculed by the police and by the male dominated legal system?