He raped me ten years ago when I was lying naked on his bed. How many times have we heard this claim and what are the fundamental issues in play?
Let us start with the fundamental precept that the law exists, and if its rules exist on paper, then without a justice system to implement it, it is as meaningless as someone making claims without a shred of evidence to back them up.
We have all seen how meaningless international law is because although rules and regulations are set out in covenants and treaties and charters, certain countries choose to ignore them, deride them by skirting round the written norms or else by refuting the binding nature of their content.
On the other hand and at the other end of the scale, we have the recent plethora of sexual harassment and rape accusations levied against public figures sometimes decades after the alleged incident was supposed to have taken place and in many cases, the accused have been convicted, merely on hearsay.
I was standing outside this discotheque scantily clad wearing make-up, a short skirt and showing my cleavage, I smiled meaningfully at him, showing my teeth and batting my eyelids, we had a few drinks together and he suggested we go upstairs to his hotel room. I said yes and pouted my lips, we kissed passionately in the elevator, where I rubbed my ass against him, then we had a few more drinks in the room, I don't remember how many, I think it was like kinda one, or sixteen, then we started kissing and he carried me to the bed, tore off my clothes and raped me, and I was kinda like no, no, no, no, no.
Now, for those who react saying "well what was she expecting, she deserved it", that is not how it works. True, the flirtatious part of the sex-game was initiated by the female, as it usually is, the green light being given to "have me" and in many cases, if the accused is young and athletic "as rough as it gets" or "a bit of the rough stuff", followed by claims that "he screwed the ass offa me!"
However, whatever the case and however many drinks and however much fore-play is involved, both persons in question have the right to change their minds. In the case where sexual intercourse has already begun, the claim of rape is harder to stick, and here lawyers will argue as to the willingness of the "victim" to go along with the game until a certain point.
But here we have the crux of the matter, which is the rights of individuals and the protection of these rights through law. Let us state categorically and clearly that any form of abuse or violation of the person, including any form of sexual harassment and any form of rape is totally unacceptable and goes against any grain of human decency. So in the analogy above, where the female threw herself on the bed spreading her legs and the male fell on top of her and finished off what she had started, under the law the female has the right to change her mind and the male is expected to respect that.
The case gets more complicated if she has the recorder on her cell-phone turned on and murmurs "no" or "stop" while at the same time thrusting up and down in rhythm to the now frantic male as his entire psyche focuses on his orgasm.
These are the intricacies for the law and for lawyers to argue over. Not the newspapers, not the mass media.
Under the law, it is also a fundamental precept that a person is innocent until proven guilty and even then there is a right to appeal. Therefore taking these stories to the media before there has been a due legal process, in secret and in private, is to render the case void because the accused has already been tried in the public eye. And therefore the entire process of argument and counter-argument under the supposition of innocence has been violated before the case has begun.
I am not concentrating on one case alone here, I am speaking about a growing trend in which people come forward, sometimes to ask for money, sometimes not, sometimes decades after the incident was supposed to have taken place. I am not passing any judgement on those who wait so long to open up because I understand how deep the trauma of rape can be and I understand that many victims find the period after they have said what happened more traumatic than the rape itself. Neither am I exonerating the acts of those who should be tried and judged if they broke the law by violating a person's integrity. And notice I am not jumping on any bandwagon by mentioning any names, trying to get a piece on Google at the expense of someone who has worked extremely hard and thus gained a reputation. A reputation which can be in tatters despite the absence of any pronunciation of guilt, or innocence.
What I am saying is that everyone has a right, under the law, to place an accusation if a law was broken and if they feel they are a victim. What I am saying is that everyone accused has the right to defend themselves, to refute the evidence, to question its veracity, to question the character of a person who goes screwing around, takes money then asks for more, under the law. What I am saying is that the two sides of the story belong expressly and uniquely to the forum of law, and not the public domain.
The way we have things today, everyone ends up being a victim, whatever the outcome. Time to draw the line.
Photo: The Rape of Europa By Titian - http://www.gardnermuseum.org/collection/artwork/3rd_floor/titian_room/europa?filter=artist:3150, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=159563
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru. He is an official translator, a coach, a consultant and a professor.