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The limits of legal 'protection'

The limits of legal 'protection'

It’s a fact well known to anti-rape campaigners that one of the single most powerful motivating factors underpinning rape and sexual assault is a hatred of women, pure and simple. A misogyny and absence of respect for women so fundamental, that for some men (rapists), consent is not  a real consideration, but a minor inconvenience to be swatted aside by those whose sense of entitlement to women’s bodies overrides any other concerns. Yet it’s a rare occurrence that such hatred is expressed quite openly, or that the holders of such views feel able, with complete impunity, to voice them publicly, as they make plans to shout them from the rooftops in a city centre location near you, while encouraging fellow haters to join them as they do. Yet that is the modus operandi of veteran woman-hater Roosh V, whose plans to peddle his own particular brand of misogyny and coach like-minded aspiring ‘players’ in Glasgow and Edinburgh (making contact with each other via a Ladybird book of Le Carre-style enquiry about the locus of a nearby pet shop) were highlighted today in The National and elsewhere.

There ought to be a law against it, you might say. Yet interestingly (and alarmingly) there is not. Roosh V’s entitlement to freedom of speech apparently trumps any threat to women implicit in or likely to result from his words and ideas, and he can say what he likes, in the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh, or anywhere else in this country. There have been many positive moves in Scotland in recent years to improve the legal responses to rape, and Rape Crisis Scotland has spent much of the last 10 years campaigning to change the attitudes that play such a part in perpetuating this devastating crime (and which can make it very difficult for survivors to talk about or report) but if we are serious about protecting women in Scotland from rape, this must be reflected in the law at every level. When we talk about affording protection from rape, that must include a real and meaningful (and enforceable) protection from the promotion and circulation of the views held by those who commit it as they move forward to rebrand the worst of crimes as a lifestyle choice.

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