In the words of Whoopi Golberg we do all know what “rapey rape” is. We’re also aware of what some call rape these days. But that more feminist delineation doesn’t quite cut it with the general population. Hey, maybe it should, maybe it shouldn’t, that’s not the point at issue here. What is is that the general population is what makes up juries. And it is juries who decide whether to find someone guilty of rape or not – along with all other crimes of course.
We also know – know, not suspect – that juries won’t convict when they think the sentence too harsh for the alleged offence. Back when theft to the value of 5 shillings was a hanging offence, juries determined the value of what had been stolen, there were an awful lot of people convicted of stealing to the value of 4 shillings and eleven pennies.
What should be defined as a rape that one should be jailed for is thus a question of what the general population thinks it should be. This then flows through into what it is that the Crown Prosecution Service thinks should be taken to court as a rape to be prosecuted. Which is actually the issue here:
A man who “confessed” on Facebook Messenger to raping a woman in her sleep will not be prosecuted because authorities think there is “no realistic prospect of conviction”, The Independent can reveal. Bonny Turner has waived her right to lifetime anonymity to speak about the alleged attack by a man she knew in a London hotel. “I was fast asleep when I started having what I thought was initially a nightmarish dream,” she told The Independent. “At first I was frozen and unable to move, but then eventually I was able to shout ‘stop’ and shoved him off me.” The man left the UK days after the incident in 2016 and Ms Turner said she ignored his messages until two weeks later, while having panic attacks. A subsequent exchange between the pair showed the man apologising after Ms Turner told him she had been “frozen with fear” and added: “I was still fast asleep when you forced yourself inside me.”
Well, and yes and no. No, don’t think about what we think about this, nor what she does. Think about what a jury of our fellow countrymen is going to think:
Again, note that this isn’t about some purist or even feminist definition of rape. Nor is it about what we think the definition of the crime should be. It’s about whether a jury will convict upon that.
Miss Turner, a counselling trainer, told The Independent newspaper that the refusal of the CPS to act meant rape victims’ chances of winning justice were bleak. She added: ‘He confessed what he had done. In my view rape has become decriminalised. ‘If a confession isn’t enough to even get to court, there’s no hope for anyone else. ‘I was naive to believe that a voluntarily written admission of rape amounts to prosecutable evidence in the eyes of the UK’s so-called justice system.’
The question is whether that would gain a conviction from a jury. Even, whether it is likely that it would gain a conviction from a jury.
After a two-year police investigation and another year appealing the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) decision not to charge the rapist, my solicitors at the Centre for Women’s Justice informed me that my case has reached a dead end. The man who raped me and confessed to it will never be extradited and arrested, never be questioned by British police, never be charged, and never be brought to trial. My case is one of several in a growing dossier being collated by the Centre for Women’s Justice in order to launch a lawsuit against the CPS for dropping so-called “weak cases” en masse.
Weak cases should be dropped. This is before we even consider the background here. Which is that when the CPS was instructed to keep ploughing ahead with such weak cases then the conviction rate dropped. Which brought forth howls of injustice! Thus the CPS is dropping weak cases and the trial to conviction rate is presumably getting better again.
All of this based on a very simple point. What the society at large, those who make up juries, are willing to call rape and thus convict upon doesn’t quite match the insistences of a certain section of society and their beliefs upon the matter. And guess what? In such conflicts it’s society that wins.