JENNI MURRAY: Attack that haunts me, and why the law still fails rape victims
- Jenni has fought for sexual violence to be taken seriously for much of her life
- She was raped by a much older man she thought she could trust at university
- Here she discusses her thoughts on The Victims’ Right to Review in some cases
Much of my life has been spent fighting for sexual violence to be taken seriously. So I was astonished to learn this week about an aspect of the law I knew nothing about. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was raped by a much older man I thought I could trust when I was a university student, a terrifying and humiliating experience which still makes me rage with anger.
In the late 1960s, it didn’t occur to me to go to the police. Would they have believed me? Would they have said my skirt was too short, I’d had too much to drink, I’d led him on? I hadn’t, but I became determined to do whatever I could to make things easier for other women to bring their attackers to court.
Now, the case of one young woman has brought to my attention something called The Victims’ Right to Review. Throughout her childhood, she and her two sisters were beaten and raped by a male relative.
In 2008, her younger sister made a complaint to the police and he was questioned, but in 2010 the case was dropped because of ‘lack of evidence’.
Jenni (pictured) has fought for sexual violence to be taken seriously for much of her life
In 2014 she made her own complaint and the police took her evidence and that of her sisters to the Crown Prosecution Service, but, after 12 months, the charges again were dropped.
It was the Independent Domestic Abuse Service (IDAS) in York that advised her to appeal under the Victims’ Right to Review Scheme, introduced in 2013.
IDAS gave her support throughout the review and pressed for updates. In 2018, the relative was charged and then, in 2019, the jury returned guilty verdicts and he was sent down for 30 years.
But look at all the years she and her sisters had suffered to bring this man to justice: years of abuse, years of not being believed, years of failure in a justice system that should have protected them.
What determination it must have taken for her to keep going, and how lucky she was to find a charity to help her.
We know this has happened on numerous occasions because the CPS has been accused of operating a ‘risk averse policy’ in order to meet a target of 60 per cent of cases achieving a conviction. In 2020, 55,130 complaints of rape were made to the police. Only 2,102 of those complaints made it to court, resulting in 1,439 convictions.
Jenni (pictured) was raped by a much older man she thought she could trust at university
There’s no doubt victims are being let down by a system that is seriously flawed. I have spent so many years studying the steps, forward and back, that campaigners have endured for the past 50 years.
We saw the corroboration warning taken out of court practice where judges would be required to warn juries that ‘women and children tended to lie about sexual matters’. What nonsense that was.
We saw judges trained in how to handle cases after the judge in the Ealing vicarage rape case described the victim as ‘seeming to have suffered no great trauma’.
I interviewed Jill Saward several times and, believe me, her trauma was great, as, indeed, was mine.
Now we find Covid is leading to even longer periods in which victims have to wait for their cases to get to court. One 18-year-old took her own life when she was told it would take 19 months for her allegations to be tested.
A government spokesman has said hundreds of millions are being invested to ‘deliver speedier justice, boost funding for victim support and recruit extra staff to reduce court delays’. Well, for goodness sake, get on with it.
Don’t go to war on pronouns
Poor old Ministry of Defence, struggling to find ‘inclusive’ terms for personnel in its war on sexist language.
I do hope they forget the weird pronouns idea.
What is meant by the words zie, per and hir? Just stick with he, she, him and her, please. As for rifleman, would gunner not suffice?
Soldier, pilot, technician etc have no sexual overtones and I guess for Lieutenant Claire Jenkins, who is under investigation for filming porn on a nuclear submarine base, Hello Sailor would be perfect.
Stalkers are no joking matter
Leave stalkers in the bin where they belong and, if you must send a Valentine, maybe stick with the Roses Are Red variety
Comedy Valentine’s Day cards are not a problem, always assuming your beloved has a sense of humour. Let’s say ‘I want you … to put the bins out’ might make him laugh.
But a card that says ‘You say stalker. I say devoted’ or ‘Happy Valentine’s from your favourite stalker’, or ‘Stalker. I prefer to say future husband’ is no joke.
Stalkers are obsessive and often dangerous men, as the Police Commissioner, Katy Bourne, who’s asked for such cards to be banned, knows only too well. She was stalked, harassed and filmed by a stalker for months and he terrified her.
Stalking is a crime that can destroy a woman’s life. In some cases, it’s led to death. It has nothing to do with love, affection or devotion. Leave stalkers in the bin where they belong and, if you must send a Valentine, maybe stick with the Roses Are Red variety.
New mums please turn away now!
The model, Gigi Hadid, looks absolutely gorgeous in her pose for the front cover of Vogue achieved a mere ten weeks after giving birth to her daughter.
But how dare Gigi dedicate it to ‘all the mums who haven’t brushed their hair in a couple of days’!
I am heartily sick of women like her who give wholly unrealistic expectations to other women of life after birth. For most of us, it’s a time of no sleep, constant anxiety about how to take good care of a baby and wondering if you can make it to the shops without leaking breast milk staining a sloppy sweater. Please, let women relax into motherhood. It doesn’t have to be a fashion show.
The model, Gigi Hadid, looks absolutely gorgeous in her pose for the front cover of Vogue achieved a mere ten weeks after giving birth to her daughter
So jealous of Princess Anne, sitting comfortably on the sofa with her husband Tim Laurence, watching the Six Nations, England/Scotland match. Still locked down alone, my only company was three dogs and a cat who jumped every time I squealed in annoyance at my team — England’s — performance.
And Princess Anne’s team won. Yah boo!
Whenever I came home from school as a little girl my mother would ask, ‘What would you like for tea, love?’
The answer would invariably be, ‘Beans on toast, please’. To which she would respond, in a voice heavy with irony, ‘Ah, just for a change’.
It’s true, it was my dish of choice and, to some extent, it still is. There are three tins in my cupboard for when I need something quick and filling. I had not realised I was fond of ‘a superfood’, rebranded by Kraft Heinz’ northern Europe president as ‘the new avocado’.
Part of the rebranding will be to sell them in freezer packs. I’m a traditionalist on this one and will be sticking with the tins and warm the beans in a pan.
Baked beans are low in fat, but contain carbohydrates, 25.9 g (in half a can), of which 9.8 g is sugar. That’s why we love them, they’re sweet.
I remember finding it interesting in 1978 when Heinz bought Weight Watchers for $71 million. Ah, I thought, get the kids hooked on sweet sustenance and then charge them to get the weight off.
Heinz is now getting onto the health-kick bandwagon: ‘Baked beans are one of your five a day’. Just maybe not every day!
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