Support rape victims not rape deniers

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2013 National Women's Conference
17 October 2012

Conference notes that the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is wanted in Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault. Conference further notes that a UK Court approved the extradition of Assange to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault, but that he has now been granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Conference is disappointed that in public discourse around this high profile case, many prominent political voices have undermined and belittled rape victims, seeking to redefine rape on their own terms. George Galloway for example, the Respect MP for Bradford West, has referred to a man inserting his penis into a sleeping woman as, “bad sexual etiquette,” when actually UK rape law makes clear that penetrating someone as they sleep constitutes rape.

Rape culture is endemic in the UK, with fewer than 6% of rape cases ending in a conviction for rape, and rape victims in court still being routinely interrogated about their sexual history, what they were wearing and how much they had had to drink when they were raped. And yet some men on the left continue to reinforce negative attitudes about rape survivors, and to prop up sexism and misogyny by contributing to a blame culture that holds women responsible for the crimes of rape and sexual violence committed against them.

Conference believes that rape is always the responsibility of the perpetrator, not the victim.

Conference therefore calls on the National Women’s Committee to:

1) Continue to support Rape Crisis England and Wales, and to encourage branches and regions to support any Rape Crisis Centres in their areas.

2) Encourage UNISON spokespeople to refuse to share a platform with George Galloway, or any other speakers who contribute to rape culture by blaming and undermining rape victims.

3) To liaise with the NEC, Labour Link, and other UNISON bodies to try and ensure that UNISON never offers a platform to any speakers who are rape deniers, and who blame and undermine rape victims, and that it never officially supports any event that does.