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What’s Law got to do with it? Rape in Ireland (part1/3)


I was talking recently with a few acquaintances and the topic of rape came up.

How’s that for a bold opening gambit?

As you might expect, it came up sideways and almost out of nowhere. The general conversational theme concerned European directives and definitions, how these affect statistical data, which can, in turn have an impact on policy via public opinion. Oh yes, it’s not all football you know.

In any case, it was suggested that a commonly accepted broad understanding allows for the rape of males. This, the argument goes, came from a long and concerted effort to broaden our understanding of rape, to include other forms of coercion in addition to the traditionally accepted idea of a violent sexual crime.

No surprise there, as it regularly forms a part of public discussion (By which I mean radio, tv and print opinion column interviews). Even the Dublin rape crisis centre, on its information web page, states that “Men are raped and sexually assaulted too”, something reiterated by its poster campaigns. Similarly, Women's Aid, through awareness programs, such as “This is not happily ever after” explains that sexual violence has many forms, 7 of the 8 scenarios don’t involve violence and could be easily attributed to either sex. Both Women's Aid and the DRCC have regular workshops and education programs which focus on exploring the meaning of consent, which forms a central part of our understanding of rape.

This is all good. Any effort to reduce sexual violence in our society is a good thing and I have supported it with my time resources (I think most people have).  Even with out doing anything, just now, for example, by linking back to their web pages, I have improved their google rating.

So, once again, the point which was made, once again, is that both men and women can be raped.
What was curious, though, was an inference which cropped up quite innocently and sincerely and what must be kept in mind too, is that the people I was talking with were reasonably informed, had generally balanced opinions and had no obvious prejudice or agenda.

That is to say, that what was inadvertently voiced was well meaning.

If rape is so defined and broadened, to include all forms of coercion, in addition to physical force and/or violence (or threat of), then logically, men can be raped too.

 Indeed, with very little effort I think most people could think of an example.  The rare example of forced violent rape is not the whole story. Thus, it may be more common than we think and males and females are exposed to rape by either males or females and all being equally deserving of protection. It is reasonable to look at the problem and deal with it, as a society.

I think most people could agree with this statement, but the inference came with only a cursory look at available information.

If males and females are exposed equally to the threat, it implies that the perpetrators can equally be male or female. So, this being the case, why is the crime committed almost exclusively against women and perpetrated exclusively by men? This is fully supported by crime statistics.  The inference is that women can, yet don’t, but that men can, and do.

Well, I tried to head this off at the pass, but within a few heartbeats, the inference had become an assertion and was well on its way to becoming an unassailable fact.

This is a problem.

The next couple of articles will take a look at the Law regarding sexual offences in Ireland



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