- "Well-known entertainer", who pushed a woman's face into his crotch - he pled guilty and has permanent name suppression. We decided not to name this person back in November.
- "Olympian", who is alleged to have raped and assaulted a woman - case yet to be heard
- "Well-known comedian", who is alleged to have sexually assaulted a girl - case yet to be heard
- "Ex-MP", who is alleged to have sexually assaulted a girl - case yet to be heard
Now in cases Two, Three and Four the facts released by the court make it clear that the victims have a familial relationship with the accused. And that the reason for the name suppression for the accused is to protect the identity of the victim, not the accused. These are not victimless crimes. They are crimes of the most heinous variety, and if the allegations are true* then the victims have faced significant violation and no doubt feelings of shame and blame already. I'll quote what Maia wrote on that subject a couple of weeks ago:
As a feminist one of the things I'm fighting for is a world where victims of sexual violence don't need automatic name suppression. Where there is no shame in being abused, just being abusive. But we are so far from being there.How much worse will they feel with the knowledge that their private hell is now public, and that while you or I might not be able to work out who the victims are, because we don't know those families, certainly everyone who actually knows them will.
If the rumours I have heard about the identity of the comedian who sexually assaulted a girl (who also has name suppression because of the identity of his victim) and the identity of the Olympian are true then there are political points to be made about both of them. There are points to be made about the nature of rape culture, and the way women's lives are prioritised. But the only way to make those points is to name the abuser, and therefore out the person they abused. Political arguments about rape must never be made if you have to tread on victims of abuse to do so.
To illustrate I was thinking about what would happen if I was accused of sexually abusing Wriggly. I would get automatic name suppression because of the close relationship and the fact that if I was named as facing these charges everyone who knows our family, even just a little bit, would be able to establish that the victim was indeed the Wriggly One.** What would life then be like for him, and for his father who would no doubt have to deal with all the questions, with people taking sides without knowing the facts, with the pitying looks in the street, with offers of support, with interminable calls from the media, with the possibility of photographers following you around? What would it be like, dealing with the fall out of a serious accusation within a family, and with the actuality of that violation, and then to feel that everyone around you knows, every time you walk into a room and people go quiet it's about you?
Cameron Slater seems to think that he is somehow striking a blow for victims' rights by breaching these suppression orders. He claims that victims of sexual abuse have contacted him in support of his actions. He does not say whether any of the victims in these cases have done so, but I suspect if they had he would have told us that too.
We've had a bit of a discussion recently about the keeping of secrets about abuse, and who has rights about disclosure. I wrote in comments there:
By keeping such secrets we often allow abuse to continue, or happen again, yet to disclose the abuse of another is perhaps to further violate them by taking even that power from them.I don't believe that Cameron Slater is giving power to the victims in these cases, nor do I believe that is his intention, although it might be a justification he is using now. I think he is trying to build power for himself. And that's a cynical abuse of very real situtations for actual real people.
Readers may also be interested in this post at The Standard.
* I know we have a presumption of innocence in our legal system, and I broadly support that. However when a woman or girl, or man or boy for that matter, are prepared to take allegations of this nature to a police force that doesn't have the best track record itself, in a society where the reaction to accusations of sexual abuse and rape is too often "He wouldn't do that, he's a nice guy, you're lying", then my personal opinion tends towards giving the benefit of the doubt to the victim.
** Slater has argued that breaking the suppression order on Case Four, which he did yesterday, does not identify the victim because they have a different last name from the accused. That's just crap. Wriggly has a different last name from me, but that wouldn't stop anyone who knew our family from working it out.