It Takes Guts For a Women to Talk About Abuse

07/10/2012 20:51 BST | Updated 06/12/2012 10:12 GMT

In a Huffington Post UK blog, Brendan O'Neill complains that Jimmy Savile is being picked on and that this is wrong he says, since Savile is dead and cannot defend himself. Of the women who came forward to make complaints against Savile he wrote - 'Making serious accusations against a dead person who is in no position to fight back or plead or prove his innocence, 30 or 40 years after the alleged incidents occurred, is the very opposite of brave - it's cowardly.'

I think it is cruel and wrong to call these women cowards because it takes guts to report this sort of offence.

O'Neil also argues that because it can never go to court then we are not entitled to hear what these women have to say and then to make a judgement - I think he is wrong in this as well.

Jimmy Savile may not have his day in a Court - but if some of those also implicated, or those who turned the other way when the abuse was taking place, are still alive and if there is enough evidence to support a charge, someone might well be charged and this matter may yet be heard in a court.

O'Neill does not actually know what motivated the women to come forward - any more than I know - but I think I can make a better informed judgement than him.

If these women are not telling the truth then they deserve to be condemned. If they are telling the truth then calling them cowards is a disgraceful injustice.

When it comes to these allegations, few people know the truth - but these women should have their say because this matters. Through public exposure of what traditionally goes on behind closed doors between two individuals, we give the victims of abuse a voice. Its voices of the woman who spoke out against Jimmy Savile who may inspire young people in similar situations to say stop and call for help.

That this may have happened still matters today because society is held together - at least in part - by there being a sense of justice or at least a chance of justice. If these women were assaulted as children then justice could still be done.

For over 20 years as a Police Officer I saw a pattern of women being reluctant to come forward to report crimes where they were the victim and there is also plenty of objective evidence to suggest that it is not easy for women to report such crimes. We in the Police needed (and they, no doubt, still need) to get better at dealing with these crimes but I think the problem goes wider than just how Police deal with such victims - it also about how the rest of society reacts to such allegations.

The evidence that it is hard for women to come forward when they are the victims of crime is easy to find - women typically experience 35 incidents of domestic violence before reporting it to Police and around 80 per cent of women who were the victims of sexual assault do not report it.

Does this suggest that women find it easy to report these offences - I think not? So why don't they - perhaps - in part - it is because they fear not being believed. Research has shown that a third of people believe a women in to blame for being raped - women know this - they see the evidence every day is the media and in every life. Being called cowards will no doubt add to their reluctance.

Why didn't they come forward when Savile was alive? Was it because it simply that the allegations are not true - or is it more plausible that it did happen but they feared they would never be believed against a non-celebrity - never mind a very famous person known for his charitable works. This matter may never go to Court but this remains important.

When and where was it acceptable for grown men to sexually assault children? Savile is dead but plenty of people who may have been involved in criminal acts - either as perpetrators or as victims are still alive and that this may have happened still matters today.