Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Why Do You Hate Ched Evans?

Why Do I Hate Ched Evans?

There is a very simple answer. I don’t hate him - as a man – I hate him as a rapist. As many times as I say it and as many times as his supporters don’t hear it, this really isn’t about Ched Evans or football or whichever club is sticking out its chest this week and saying “I won’t be told what to do by those bloody feminists!”

What I hate is rape. What I hate is the thought of all the women in this country and around the world who are waking this morning after sleepless nights remembering the horror of the night a man invaded their body against their will in the most vile way possible. I hate the thought that men will have done that to women last night. I hate the thought that women will be in the awful position this morning of wondering how and why it happened. Wondering, because of the way society treats rape victims, what they did to cause it. Wondering whether it could possibly be worth going to the police who might not believe her. Wondering whether it is worth the ordeal of a court and jury who may not believe her. Too ashamed to tell her closest friends and family who likewise might not believe her or might regard her differently from now on. Wondering whether her rapist knows he raped her. Wondering whether he cares. Wondering if it will happen again. Wondering whether to simply carry on. Perhaps falling down and crying in a heap. Perhaps carrying on as though nothing has happened. Perhaps throwing herself into some sort of risky behaviour in an attempt to blot events from her mind. Or one of the other terrible and heartbreaking responses that are a reaction to a man taking your body and using it in in such a traumatic way that you will never take a part of your spirit back. Ever.

Rape convictions in the UK are abysmally low. Police are writing off a quarter of crimes of sexual violence as “no crime”. Reporting rates are roughly 16,000 out of 78,000 rapes a year and roughly 1,100 convictions yield from that. That is an awful lot of rapists on our streets who are not brought to justice. Year after year.

So let’s be under no illusion. No police officer waited around a corner desperate to pursue Ched Evans. No court and jury , who are notoriously difficult to obtain a conviction from, because of pervasive victim-blaming attitudes, were sitting rubbing their hands at the thought of convicting a famous footballer. This was a very hard piece of justice for his victim to obtain. Very hard. Though nothing like as hard as the rest of her life is proving to be.

Ched Evans’ poor victim is on the run. She’s hounded, harassed, called vile names all day long every day, blamed for her own degrading rape. She’s had to move home 5 times. She’s had to change name 3 times. She cannot form close, honest friendships or visit her family. She cannot turn on a television probably at the moment or walk past a newsagent or visit a supermarket without seeing her rapist’s face. She cannot escape him. She cannot escape that night. She never will.

Every time a club like Oldham step forward and say “We believe him” or “We don’t care, he’s done his time”, what they are also saying is, “We don’t care about her, or what this is doing to her. We don’t think she is worth considering.”

So where is her justice? Ched Evans won’t apologise. These clubs are effectively rubbing her nose in the fact that society does not care about what happened to her or the 78,000 other women a year.

A woman contacted me on Sunday night and could only say, “Why Jean? Why don’t they care about us??” before going to bed in tears. I couldn’t tell her. Perhaps someone can tell me? Why don’t the men at the helms of these clubs care about women in the UK who have been raped?

The endless supporters of Ched Evans (and therefore all rapists), worry me in how they can box off his victim from the women they love. She is “other” somehow to their lovely women. Likewise they can corral the 78,000 women raped a year into a field marked “other women than mine” I suppose. They have profile pictures on twitter with their arms around their women and daughters as they call me a “man-hating cow” and much, much, worse for standing up for the woman they have their arm around. These men are not doing the maths on this. Rape is prolific and society is not effectively prosecuting rape. This means that until we create a society where rape does not happen or if it does women are confident of justice, then unfortunately, when you don’t have your arm around your woman, or daughter or sister or mother and she goes out into the world there is a chance she might be herded into the “other women” field at some point and ignored by other men who don’t care what happened to her. They don’t care that she was raped.

So let’s forget football. Let’s forget money. Let’s forget fame. Let’s forget who needs goals or a second chance or the right to work just like a builder or plumber, or any of that.

Let’s remember the woman just now, somewhere near you, the night after being raped, afraid to go to the police. Let’s think about her. Let’s show her we care.