Monday, 17 January 2011

Desperately seeking justice

A reader emailed me today with a couple of snaps of some graffiti outside the Auckland High Court:

 Below is a close-up so you can read the words*:

Regardless of the means used to make this point, it is very salient.

*  UPDATE:  The original photo I was sent had 1.3%, I've now been sent one with the correct statistic of 13%.  Thanks very much to the reader who sent it on earlier today, the delay in correcting it was mine.


Lindsay Mitchell said...

A significant part of the problem is the later unwillingness of complainants to testify. This may be for a number of reasons - fear, guilt or the accusation being false. The data relating to complaints is corrupted by the misuse of justice system to resolve personal non-legal issues.

Anonymous said...

False complaints fall within the same range (1-2%) as any other crime. When that's lumped in as a legitimate factor for lack of reporting along with fear and feelings of guilt or shame we see a pretty clear cluster of reasons for avoiding the whole situation.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

I have attempted to get information from the NZ Police about false sexual assault statistics under the OIA. They cannot provide it.

In the US the following statement was published;

"Every year since 1989, in about 25 percent of the sexual assault cases referred to the FBI where results could be obtained, the primary suspect has been excluded by forensic DNA testing. Specifically, FBI officials report that out of roughly 10,000 sexual assault cases since 1989, about 2,000 tests have been inconclusive, about 2,000 tests have excluded the primary suspect, and about 6,000 have "matched" or included the primary suspect.....these percentages have remained constant for 7 years, and the National Institute of Justice's informal survey of private laboratories reveals a strikingly similar 26 percent exclusion rate."

A Nonny Moose said...

*facepalm* In a discussion about lack of rape conviction the old bingo canard of False Claims is wheeled out. Self fulfilling prophecy. If you're invested in shaming woman, the women will be shamed.

Way to not move the discussion forward.

stargazer said...

agreed, aNM. and as for the american situation, there is the whole problem of asking complainants to pay for their own rape kits in some states, as well as police not taking the case seriously so failing to take evidence at the appropriate time. add to that the fact that the majority of assaults aren't even officially reported, and the 1-2% is looking much more accurate than the 26% that lindsay is claiming.

Boganette said...

Sigh. What A Nonny Moose said. One thing we really don't need is another three day discussion about false rape complaints. If people donated half as much time to trying to change rape culture as they do to hand-wringing about the TINY TINY FUCKING TINY percentage of false rape complaints we might actually get somewhere.

Em said...

aNM fourth-ded.

I also don't see how we could read this statistic as relating only to false claims, even if nothing A Nonny Moose and stargazer have said turned out to be true. For it to mean "25% of rape claims are false", we would have to assume that the primary suspect in an investigation is always someone whom the victim accuses. I don't actually know what percentage of rapists are not known to their victims, but it is > 0.


Ally said...

"A significant part of the problem is the later unwillingness of complainants to testify."

Nice victim blaming there Lindsay.

Anonymous said...

Seconding everyone except the obvious. Hey Lindsay, ever spared the slightest thought as to why, with people as supportive and nonjudgemental as YOU around, women might not feel safe reporting their assaults?

(I'll give you a hint, since it's at the top of my mind today: Sweden's high rape reporting statistics might have something to do with taking rape more seriously than most other countries. Or Swedish women could all be lying vengeful sluts, and you know I'd respect you so much more if you'd just admit that's what you think).

A Nonny Moose said...

"If people donated half as much time to trying to change rape culture as they do to hand-wringing about the TINY TINY FUCKING TINY percentage of false rape complaints we might actually get somewhere."

Exactly. And since people seem so invested in defending rape, they're invested in keeping it as a tool of oppression.

Nothing like keeping women in their place with threats of violence, possibly death. The cognitive dissonance when it comes from women themselves is amazing. You fight for a tool of women's oppression to remain, you live under the burden of that tool as well. Oh, YOU wouldn't get raped? Not YOUR rape? YOUR rape is DIFFERENT?


Anonymous said...

I am the woman who started Activating the Global Posse, an arts and human rights organisation dedicated to given a voice to women who have survived violence. This stencil is one of many artworks, films and graffiti pieces implemented by ATGP.

Let's stop talking about how it's always the women's fault if she gets raped or beaten or how women are liars and make up stories about rape and violence and start talking about the reality.

The reality being that according to the UN 1 in 3 women will survive violence in her lifetime. Most women who survive rape or violence will never get justice through the court systems. ATGP is about creating new systems of justice and platforms on which women can speak and be heard.

Why are we not talking about the dismal conviction rate for sexual assaults that this stencil outlines? Instead we are talking about the stats in relation to 'false complaints'. Not exactly the conversation I wanted to open up when this stencil was implemented. This type of conversation, I find, is defeating and I have heard it a million times before.

Anonymous said...

... Oh and Linsay, you said 'a significant part of the problem is the later unwillingness of complainants to testify', that’s not the significant problem as I see it. The significant problem I feel is that the courts create an atmosphere in which women know and feel they cannot win their (rape) case. Who wants to run a race you know is ‘fixed’ and in all probability, you will loose.

The problem lies not with lack of testimony or women not testifying but at the core of the issue in which a patriarchal system puts a woman who has survived rape on trial not the rapist.

The blame for women not willing to testify lies within the judicial system not with women who have been raped.