Her Life has no Value

Storyville on BBC4, originally scheduled for Sunday 8th March,but in the face of possible legal action from the Indian  Government, was screened last night.  It explores how gender inequality is at the root of rape.  Following the murder of a 23 year old woman on a Delhi bus, Leslee Udwin interviews the rapists. She is told: 'A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy.'

This, we reassure ourselves, is the view of people in another society, different from ours.  Yet here in the UK girls are often policed by their mothers over what they wear, and ordered not to indulge in 'foolish behaviour.' Because 'common sense' in a woman is what is required.  A female barrister is quoted as saying in an article for The Journal of Law & Society: 'I mean the silly woman is prepared to be picked up by a stranger and go back for "coffee", you know, what does she expect?'

Attrition rates for rape in this country are huge.  Attrition, is when the police, or the CPS classify a case as NFA - No Further Action.  Susan Lea found 61% of rape cases were NFA-ed, 31% by police and 14% by the CPS.  This was put down to insufficient evidence, intimidation of the victim, and character of the complainant - 'her appearance, her behaviour, her lifestyle were all viewed as obstacles'. Perhaps here, it would be wrong to say 'her life has no value', but it definitely has less.