Socialist Worker

Taking rape seriously

Issue No. 2317

Myths about rape run deep. A US Republican politician wants to ban abortion, including for women who have been raped.

Todd Akin declared that women don’t get pregnant, because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”.

This is an extreme. But the bogus distinction between “legitimate” rape by a stranger and rape by someone a woman knows is a common one. Women who make allegations of rape and sexual assault are rarely taken seriously.

Some of those defending Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from persecution by the US have resorted to disparaging the rape allegations.

But stopping the US locking up Assange for his role in exposing US imperialism does not make trivialising rape acceptable. That is why George Galloway was wrong to say what he did last week.

The specialist police unit set up to investigate sex crimes in Britain has also been exposed as not taking rape seriously. Two Sapphire officers will appear in court this week accused of wrongly telling rape victims their cases had been shelved.

Myths about rape show how deeply entrenched women’s oppression is in society. We need to challenge every expression of it as part of the big battles to uproot oppression permanently.

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