On 14 December, BBC news reported that Anthony Parry, 49, had been sentenced to 6 years in prison for raping a 19 year-old student. Parry attacked the woman while she was unconscious and ignored her pleas for him to stop when she woke up.
While the sentence is good news for the victim, the judge's words on sentencing were definitely not.
Judge Niclas Parry said that by drinking heavily and taking drugs on the night of her attack, the victim had "let herself down badly." He also described her as being made "easy prey for a rapist". Despite the victim's behaviour being absolutely irrelevant to her rapist's actions, the Judge still felt the need to mention it, and perpetuate a toxic culture of victim-blaming which already means rape is not taken seriously enough in our society.
By focusing on the victim's behaviour - even while SENTENCING a rapist who was found GUILTY - Judge Niclas Parry has implied that victims are partially culpable for what happens to them. He has also fed into the myth that rapists are somehow not totally responsible for their actions. If judges are still blaming victims even while sentencing rapists, this contributes to a society where women are too ashamed to report rapes and rapists will continue to go unpunished. The blame for rape needs to be laid squarely and solely at the feet of the men who choose to rape.
- Caenarfon Crown Court
Judge Niclas Parry
I am writing to ask you to publicly apologise for, and retract your comments to the rape victim of Anthony Parry that she 'let herself down badly' (reported December 14 2012, BBC News). To focus on the behaviour of the victim whilst sentencing a guilty rapist sends out the message that rape is partially the victim's fault. This is particularly concerning in light of the recent Home Office report which found that rape conviction rates remain pitifully low, and that many victims are afraid to report rape because they fear them will be blamed.
Disbelieving or victim-blaming attitues from members of the criminal justice system have regularly been cited as a factor in discouraging rape victims from coming forward, so it is particularly disappointing that an influential figure such as yourself felt the need to imply that women are to blame for being raped if they have been drinking. This will only contribute to a culture where victims remain afraid to come forward and rapists continue to go unpunished.
Your words also go directly against one of the main premises of the Sexual Offences Bill 2003, as described in the Stern Report 2010 - namely that "sex without consent is always rape and all other factors about a person making a complaint of rape are irrelevant to that central fact". (The Stern Review 2010, Page 14)
Apologise for and retract your victim-blaming comments to this woman, and instead use your power as a member of the judiciary to send out an unequivocal message that rape is always 100% the rapist's fault.
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