Nothing will get better, for men or for women, unless we can talk about rape more calmly; unless we can accept and marry into our language the fact that rape is both grotesque and horrific, banal and workaday; unless we can understand that rape isn't always the worst thing you can do, isn't always the worst thing that can happen to you - but that sometimes, it is. Rape, like life, is complicated, and we need ways to talk about that.
Here is a young woman in a popular holiday destination for those with a limited budget - I'm not going to assume that she's working class, but I'm certain the journalists will have done. She having fun, she's drinking, she's apparently being sexual on her own terms. Someone filmed it and the whole thing went viral - oops. Enter the tabloids with their guidebook to acceptable women's behaviour and pronounce her unclean, apparently we've found a "new low" ... It's not long before social media is calling her "actual vermin" and a "repulsive slag". I failed to find anyone (other than feminists) criticising the men in any way, the woman in question has had her name and photo all over the internet today; where are the men?
One of the reasons why there is difficulty in a public discussion and not an open forum about sexual assault is that those who have experienced it and are therefore credible to talk about don't because of the attitudes shown towards the victims. In fact only a small percentage actually report the crime for fear of not being believed. Why are there still these warped and very sad misconceptions of a crime so devastating? This societal view of victim blaming leads to further victim suffering, miscarriages of justice and a continuing risk to our loved ones. Why do we victim blame? Is it to protect our own vulnerability?
It would be naïve to suggest that we can completely eradicate child sexual exploitation. Like any other crime it will continue to be committed while there remain individuals intent on committing it. However what we can do is ensure that we put in place a legal framework that has the welfare of young victims at its heart. It is my hope that this inquiry will help to achieve this.
The making of The Cruel Cut documentary was one of the most challenging tasks I've ever undertaken in my anti-FGM campaigning. My aim has always been to teach the British public the effects of FGM, and how we should all make sure we protect our girls from this vile practice. I feel we achieved that and much more. But the response from the less well-intentioned viewers was to say, 'this is a Muslim issue.' It made me think. Had my message implied that FGM was purely an Islamic affair?
Rape is every country's shame. Violence against women and girls is a truly international disease. Around the world, one woman in three will experience rape or some form of violence in her lifetime. This keeps hundreds of millions of women and girls trapped in poverty, which is why I'm speaking out alongside ActionAid and other organisations who are working tirelessly to provide long-term support programmes for survivors and campaigns to put a stop to violence for good. The fact that women globally came together to mourn Nirbhaya tells us it is all our shame, and all our anger shouts the same message, enough is enough.
Today's overhaul of the guidelines for sexual offences, which the NSPCC has been calling for, is an important step forward in both recognising the harm done to victims and in justice being done.
We live in a society where children are constantly told to "do as their told" without explanation. The mantra "always do as adults say" passed down for generations. So when that means being told to put up with forced sexual activity by an adult and staying quiet about it, guess what sometimes happens?