When I was 8, I wrote to Jim’ll Fix It to request that my wish for long hair be granted (at 8, I realised that short hair was most un-princess-like and unfeminine and was rightfully pursuing actions that could rectify the situation). At the time, I was sad to receive no reply, but, since it turns out that the BBC was a 70s refuge for paedophiles, I am somewhat relieved.
Perhaps I am using the wrong terminology. According to the writer Tim Worstall, Jimmy was not a paedophile, since his “sexual preference” was for “mid-to-late adolescents” rather than children, and that Jimmy’s “attractions” are quite normal amongst males. Many commentators on Mr Worstall’s, ahem, surprising piece on male sexuality and indeed more widely, see the uproar around Jimmy’s systematic rape of girls as a necrophiliac lynching of feminist design. They fear a wider “witch hunt” of other victims such as the late John Peel, who publicly boasted of his exploits with 13 year-olds and allegedly left a 15 year-old pregnant. Such a hunt is uncalled for, since, as music journalist David Hepworth and former BBC Director General Michael Grade helpfully pointed out on the Channel 4 news, such abuse and exploitation of minors was “just part of the showbiz mix” and was certainly not seen as “sinister”. But, this “culture” is all behind us now. Such attitudes to the treatment of children became dead and buried when the 60s and 70s drew to a close. There is no need to spend huge sums of money investigating why the systematic sexual abuse of children was condoned at the BBC and Leeds General hospital when the country is in economic crisis. It’s all behind us now. What’s done is done and can’t be undone.
But is it done? Barnados estimates that the average age for entering prostitution in my home region of the North East is 13. We aren’t in the 70s anymore so surely paying to use children for one’s sexual gratification shouldn’t be socially acceptable, but there are customers. Similarly, UK’s rape conviction rate stands at pitifully low 6.5% and it is estimated 95% of rapes aren’t reported in the first place. Perhaps, like Jimmy’s “sexual partners”, rape survivors fear they will not be believed. Why complain if you are likely to be dismissed or belittled (see Pilger or Chomsky on Assange’s complainants), accused of “provoking” your rapist (see rape prevention tips for reminders on how to avoid this), laughed at (I remember Leeds University men’s hockey time holding a hilarious rape victim themed fancy dress night in the Union bar back in 2004) or having your records falsified in order to bring an immediate end to your case without investigation? I would argue that the ever increasing and hugely disproportionate media attention to false allegations of rape adds to this culture of disbelieving survivors. I would argue that this is the same culture that made Jimmy and his chums untouchable back in the 70s and continues to make other abusers untouchable today.
But not to worry! Sapphire, the Met police’s sex crime unit, has got a new strategy! Their new anti-rape campaign will “speak to women about reducing their vulnerability”. Says Mick Duthie, Detective Chief Superintendent of Sapphire, “we do need to educate people that if they go out and get hammered they are vulnerable – vulnerable to being assaulted – vulnerable to falling over and vulnerable to being raped… 80% of our victims have one form of vulnerability or another, a permanent or temporary vulnerability through drink, drugs, mental health, age. So there are things that we can do to prevent the offence happening in the first place.” It is also encouraging to hear of another vital prong of the Sapphire Strategy: convict rapists of unrelated crimes that are easier to prove. Says Duthie of rapists, “we don’t want them out there committing sexual offences so if they are disqualified from driving … this will help prevent rape.”
That’s right, victims – you have the power to stop the rape happening in the first place. Just don’t be vulnerable. Don’t fall over. Try to be mentally healthy. And the met police will help you by trying to make sure that rapists don’t have the right to drive.