An open letter to Ched Evans

Dear Ched,

I have decided to pen this letter having read a number of articles reporting on your recent comments in relation to rape.

I think it is important to begin with me acknowledging that yes, your appeal was successful, and as such you are no longer deemed as being guilty of the offence of rape.  However, I think it is also important to remind those reading this that you were not found to be innocent.  Instead, it was decided that the victim, also the key witness, was deemed to be unreliable, and therefore your prosecution could not be upheld.  Should anyone wish to explore the issues surrounding the declaration of witnesses as unreliable, might I direct you towards the Rotherham child sexual exploitation case as recently depicted in the BBC drama “Three Girls”.  

Now I have the utmost faith in our criminal justice system.  Is it perfect? Of course not. However it is one to be proud of by comparison.  Therefore I trust that, in your particular instance, this must be the outcome which we accept unless there are further developments.

However, the issue I have is with your decision to take your new found “innocence” and use it as a means of self righteous self promotion.  Today, it is your advice regarding consent and the prevention of rape.  For those who aren’t aware, the following comments were made to The Times:

“A lot of work needs to be done in relation to consent because I definitely think that the police have an agenda to find ways to charge people and the easiest one is the drunk one.  I also think that women need to be made aware of the dangers they can put themselves in because there are genuine rapists out there who prey on girls who have been drinking.”

Now, lets begin with sentence one.

Firstly, in 2015-16, allegations of rape doubled when compared with 2011-12 according to police statistics. 23,851 rapes were reported, to be exact. Undoubtedly this will be due to a range of factors, including Operation Yewtree (the investigation into historic sexual abuse).  I would like to think that, as a result, victims feel more confident in reporting such offences. However, just 7.5% of these allegations led to a conviction. 7.5%. That’s 21,162 allegations whereby the victim did not see anyone held accountable for what had happened to them.

Now, there are a number of factors that may be at play here. Perhaps some of these allegations were false (more on that later).  Perhaps the CPS decided there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.  Perhaps it was deemed to not be in the public interest to prosecute.  Perhaps the police had got it wrong, and the jury rightly found them to be not guilty.  Perhaps the defence lawyer was simply too damn good for a jury to focus solely on the evidence. Yet even with all of these possible reasons, and others, I am afraid that simply does not excuse 21,162 allegations of rape failing to result in a conviction.

One significant area for development within policing has been their response to victims of sexual abuse.  Training for frontline officers who may provide the initial response when a rape is reported. Developing interview techniques to avoid victim blaming.  Understanding the necessary evidence to satisfy the CPS threshold. There has been quite a significant shift. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, if the “police agenda” has moved from blaming female victims and disregarding accusations, to seeking convictions, I think I can probably work with that. And, for those of you currently playing the “but women lie” card, less than 1% of accusations result in the accuser being charged with perverting the course of justice or wasting police time.  I certainly do not underestimate the damaging effect this can have on those accused of sexual abuse,  but I am simply trying to provide a little context to demonstrate this is not commonplace or a suitable reasoning for the statistics I have just provided.

You also say that this “agenda” seems to result in the police focusing on “the drunk one”.  Now, if you are referring to the victim, that is because if a person is hammered, you shouldn’t have sex with them.  This is because if they are that drunk, they cannot consent.  Sex without consent = rape. Shocking.

If you are referring to the police targeting those who were drunk at the time they supposedly carried out the offence, are you suggesting that being drunk makes you somehow less guilty of this rape? Do you think that those who have sex with non consenting women while sober are somehow worse? Because I am afraid for me, the police seeking to obtain permission to charge ANY rapist is a good thing. I can’t imagine why you might not agree.

This leads me nicely into sentence number two.

“I also think that women need to be made aware of the dangers they can put themselves in because there are genuine rapists out there who prey on girls who have been drinking.”

Please can you explain to me what a “genuine rapist” is? Because, as I have already alluded to, rapists are people who have sex with someone who does not consent. That person might be too drunk to consent at the time.  You might have only known them for 5 minutes and decided on the spot that you wanted to have sex.  You might have known all night that you were going to have sex with someone, regardless of whether they wanted to or not.  You might be married to that person. You might be young, you might be old. You might be drunk, you might be sober. You might be conventionally good looking, you might be conventionally unattractive.  You might be successful in your chosen field, you might be penniless.  But if you knowingly have sex with someone who has not consented or cannot consent, you are a genuine rapist.

There are, as you say, men who prey on girls who are drunk.  We know that.  Do you know how we know that? Because we are women. We experience it and/or fear it every time we go out for a drink and find ourselves separated from our friends, harassed by men we don’t know in a club, and/or subjected to unwanted and unappreciated groping (to name but a few).  There are also men who prey on girls who are sober.  We know that too.  Do you know how we know that? Yep, you guessed it. We experience and/or fear that every day too, like when men catcall us out of their cars, touch us inappropriately on public transport, and make inappropriate comments in the workplace. A more accurate statement would be “there are men who prey on women.”

But, just as I am not going to avoid being sober, I also will not avoid being drunk. I feel that would unfortunately be the only way to not put myself in danger, and basic logic dictates that to be an impossible solution. Instead, I will continue to try and live my life the way I would like to, whilst constantly watching over my shoulder to make sure there are no “genuine rapists” following me on my way home from work, trying to stick their hand up my dress on a night out, or suddenly appearing in the room of someone I have consented to having sex with.  Because should any of those scenarios lead to me having sex without consenting, that would of course be rape, inflicted on me by a “genuine rapist”.

To conclude – good on the police for working towards increasing the number of convictions, particularly cases where alcohol is involved due to the notorious difficulties these cases present, even though it is still rape; thank you for alerting women to the dangers of being raped, but we are already fully aware; and remember that, regardless of social status, financial status, ethnicity or any other characteristic, anyone who has sex with someone who does not or cannot consent is a genuine rapist.

And by my reasoning, that includes you.

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