I believe her and, as a parent, I’m fearful

I believe her

I believe her, the Belfast girl, but as a parent of a girl, I want her to grow up in a world where things are different.

I’m a woman. A woman who has never been raped. Thankfully. The ordeal of rape is a horrific one, no doubt. The girl in the Belfast rape trial outlined just how horrific it is. She was abused. She was degraded. She was exposed. Then she was vilified and after all that she was discredited by Northern Ireland’s appalling misogynistic legal system. I believe her. 

I am also the mother of a little girl who will grow in to a woman. And I’m afraid for her. I’m afraid that if the way children and young people think about intimate relationships doesn’t change then this will keep on happening. It appears that fame, sporting prowess, and apparent good character are held in higher regard than bodily autonomy. It breaks my heart.

Consent is not about legal definitions. Unwelcome sexual advances are wrong. They are not ‘a bit of fun’ and women have no interest whatsoever in being ‘spit roasted’, whatever the fuck that is. We are not meat.

Sex without consent is rape. I’ll write it again. Sex without consent is rape. As a parent to a girl I am going to need to drum this home. Obviously not now, she’s only a baby, but down the line I will have to. This saddens me.

Violent rapes by strangers happen but most rapes don’t happen that way. That’s why I feel it will be so vital I teach Sarah about consent and about boundaries. She needs to know what is okay, and more importantly, what’s not okay. Do you know why, because it seems society will never teach her that. The verdict in Belfast proves that loud and clear unfortunately. Right now, there are no consequences for men that commit such crimes.

Or maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way? Why should I have to bang that drum with Sarah? What I teach my son will be more important. The reaction of young males to the verdict on social media was shocking. Vile. She is a slut and a liar in their eyes. Who is teaching our young men this? Does porn play a part? I’m not a prude however, porn depicting violence against women seems to be ‘the norm’ and that is just disgusting. And don’t get me started on how young people are using social media, I’ve already covered that and if you want to read my rant you can do so here.

I’ll say it again. WE ARE NOT MEAT. We are entitled to say no. We are entitled to change our mind whenever the hell we want. We are entitled to wear what we want. We are asking for nothing. Well maybe one thing. Respect. The girl in Belfast was given no respect so she looked for justice. She wasn’t even entitled to that. In fact it felt like she was the one on trial. She was forced to live through the experience again. Her most intimate details was questioned. She was exposed. Undermined. Shamed. Why, because she didn’t want to have sex. That’s the only reason. Shameful. Absolutely shameful. But I believe her. And I always will.

I so dearly hope that by the time my daughter is sexually active that things will have changed. I hope attitudes towards women will have changed. I hope that sex without consent will be recognised as rape. It’s not such a big ask, you’d think. But right now it is. And I’m angry.

In the wake of the shocking verdict in Belfast charities such as the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and the  Rape Crisis Network Ireland need our donations more than ever.

x

R

 

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