Monday, November 12, 2007

why women only? Cameron speaks out

David Cameron has spoken out today about the disgracefully low percentage of convictions for rape in a speech at the Conservative Women's Organisation conference. Follow the link for the BBC story.

There was a discussion on Woman's Hour (radio 4) about his proposals which you can listen to here if you missed it. The F-word blog has a post on this topic too. The main points they both make seems to relate to the need to reform the legal system to address the issue of low conviction rates, which Cameron has not directly addressed.

Cameron pledged longer-term funding for rape crisis centres, to change attitudes towards rape through sex education and announced a Tory review of sentencing.

He said "Studies have shown that as many as one in two young men believe there are some circumstances when it's okay to force a woman to have sex" and called for "widespread cultural change" as treating women as sex objects has become viewed as "cool".

He called for compulsory sex education in schools to drive home the message that sex without consent is a criminal offence.

Cameron referred to statistics suggesting one in 20 women had been raped, yet three-quarters of them never report the crime. And of those that are reported, just 5.7% result in a conviction.

He also said the number of rape crisis support centres had fallen from 68 in 1984 to 45, and funding decisions on those that remained were short-term and being made mid-way through the financial year. "As a result, these centres are forced to survive hand-to-mouth and often face the threat of imminent closure," he said. "All this has led to an appalling and tragic lack of support for the victims of rape."

As a socialist I feel concern that it is a Tory that has had to raise this issue. Despite this, I find myself saying "good on him for getting us talking about it in the mainstream". I have not yet heard the Government's response but I am very disappointed that they did not lead the debate.

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