A trainee physiotherapist is gang-raped on the night bus home. When they are sure it?s terminal, the government ships her off to Singapore for the best in medical care and to forestall riots should she die on their patch at home. Rape falls into the category of "Eve teasing? so far as the police are concerned. This excuses behaviour that ranges from catcalls to systematic violence. Fed up with being ignored when they are sexually harassed on a daily basis, the women of Delhi demonstrate in their thousands anyway ? accompanied by a gratifying number of men. The world gives an echo of protest with "One Billion Rising?.
It?s better in the UK isn?t it? Hmmm...?
Whilst I would hope that our own low conviction rate for sexual assault is due to outstanding legal defence practice, it is, in fact, more a reflection of our primitive society.
We are more advanced than some cultures: unlike Afghanistan, we do not have a situation where the complainant, lacking the requisite four male witnesses to her rape, promptly gets jailed for fornication. Insensitive policing for us means a sarky comment, rather than summoning the woman to the station to make a statement at 3am ? so that she meets the perpetrators again on the way.
In a land of "equal opportunities?, women are properly valued and the police go on endless courses in gender awareness. If they don?t take action on a sexual assault, they will have to fill out endless forms justifying that decision; and, when they do proceed, the victim has the comforts of a "Sapphire? suite and a prosecutor with special skills and empathy.
But why so few convictions? Sadly, in reality, we are not any better. Some male clients? understanding of personal relationships remains Cro-Magnon. I sometimes wish that the (domestic violence) IDAPA programme stood for "I Don?t Accept Primitive Attitudes? and that the probation officer reinforced those "thinking skills? with a baseball bat.
"Bruce, I would never rape her at my Nan?s house!? Not the best assertion to make on a bail application. "I can?t get remanded! What will they do to me if they find out I am on a rape charge??
Manfully, I blink back the tears and resist reaching for the Kleenex.
Following three lines of coke, several spliffs and a bucket of Bailey?s, neither party?s recollection is that clear, the truth is a bit fuzzy and my client had the IQ of a gibbon. If she did mumble, "No?, it obviously didn?t sink in. Given that jurors come from the same gene pool of a gibbon. If she did mumble, "No?, it obviously didn?t sink in.
Given that jurors come from the same gene pool (they just don?t have the convictions) he?s got a run. Clients like him will bother their ex for sexual favours but never consider giving her financial support and then expect us to believe she self-harms whenever he rings the doorbell. When did you last challenge some oaf when he came out with that? Guilty? Thought so.
I got him bail; sometimes I don?t feel too good about myself.
The Chief Justice of India describes those protests as "absolutely necessary?.
- Bruce Reid