Sunday, 11 March 2007

Police Rape: The Tip of the Iceberg

(a leaflet written by Socialist Worker women for the International Women's Day marches in Auckland and Wellington) We are told that the police are there to protect us. But who will protect us from the police? Clint Rickards and his rapist cronies are just the tip of the iceberg of a system which not only condones but supports violence and abuse of power. Rape is not about sex at all – it's an act of power and violence. And those are two things that the police are good at. The police are nothing more than a gang - the biggest, best equipped gang out there. Like other gangs, they wear patches, have a code of honour, and band together against outsiders. Internal police culture is all about bullying and intimidation – not only of their prisoners and the general public, but of those lower down in their pecking order. They aren't there to defend us – they are there to defend our rulers, their property and their power. Compare how many police you see in the “nice suburbs”, compared to the places where working people live. The justice system is also set up to benefit the powerful over the powerless. Only five percent of rape cases are reported – women know perfectly well that it's usually not worth it going through the humiliation of the judicial process. Defence lawyers do their best in any rape trial to make it look as if the defendant somehow “asked for it”. Rape is a means of intimidation - and not for just women and children either. Just look at how this culture laughs and winks at the idea of men raping other men in prison - this, they say, is what happens if you step out of line. It's not just the police who target women, of course. Despite the offical concerns about the high rate of domestic violence and murder, violence against women in our society is still tolerated. While some women become Prime Minister or bosses of big corporations, most women are concentrated in low paying, low status jobs. This is not a simple question of men oppressing women. Ordinary men do not benefit from their wives, sisters and partners being poorly paid and under constant threat of humilation and violence. No-one in our society is free while women are treated like second class citizens. We need social change that will bring a living wage and free childcare for all. We need contraception and abortion on demand. We need to call a halt to the criminalisation of women raising children alone. And we need a better way to bring justice for rape victims. The only kind of society that can provide that is a society based on human need rather than profit – a socialist society. By organising and fighting back against sexism and police abuse, we are building the struggle for a better world right here and now. Women in the 1960s and 70s got angry at the way women were treated and won some important gains, but we haven't gone far enough. We need to make sure that Clint Rickards and people like him can no longer get away with abusing and humiliating the rest of us. It's time for women – and men - to get angry again!

1 comment:

Dave Riley said...

Congrats SW on the iniative.I'll be reading.