Raped by person known

Partner rape is an extremely prevalent form of sexual violence and can be particularly devastating

Throughout the history of most societies, it has been acceptable for men to force their wives to have sex against their will, indeed the traditional definition of rape was, ‘sexual intercourse with a female not his wife without her consent’.

This rationale remained largely unchallenged until the 1970s when the women's movement argued for the elimination of the spousal exemption because it failed to provide equal protection from rape to all women.

However, it was not until 1991 that rape within marriage was recognised in law in England and Wales, although this recognition has not been accompanied by prosecutions, still less by convictions.

The British Crime Survey found that 54% of rapes were committed by a current or former partner and research published by the Home Office last summer revealed that few of these are reported to the police – in this study of 676 rapes reported to eight police forces, just over 20% were committed by a current or former partner.

Partner rape is an extremely prevalent form of sexual violence, particularly when we consider that the one in four women who will be involved in physically abusive relationships are especially vulnerable to rape from their partners. Studies show that between a third and half of women experiencing physical abuse are also raped by their partners at least once.

This is experienced in various ways; some are physically abused during the sexual violence whilst others are raped following a physically violent episode where the husband wants to ‘make up’. Other women experience sadistic or obsessive rape; these assaults involve torture and/or ‘perverse’ sexual acts and are often very physically violent and involve pornography.

For many women who are physically abused and raped, the sexual violence is particularly devastating and traumatic – on top of everything else with which all rape victims contend, there is the additional devastation of betrayal by someone once loved.

Women who are raped by their husbands are likely to be raped many times - often 20 times or more. Survivors of partner rape not only experience a higher number of assaults, but research indicates that they are more likely than women raped by acquaintances to experience oral and anal rape. Husbands often rape their wives when they are asleep, or use coercion, verbal threats, physical violence, or weapons to force their wives to have sex. Importantly, some researchers have found that compared to men who ‘only’ physically abuse, men who physically abuse and rape are particularly dangerous individuals and are more likely to severely injure their female partners and potentially escalate the violence to murder.

Most researchers of partner rape agree that rape in marriage is an act of violence - an abuse of power by which a husband or co-habitee attempts to establish dominance and control over his partner. While the research thus far reveals no composite picture of a partner-rapist, these men are often portrayed as jealous, domineering individuals who feel a sense of entitlement to have sex with their ‘property.’

Women appear to be particularly at risk for being raped by their partners under some circumstances which include being pregnant, being ill or recently discharged from hospital. Women are at a particularly high risk of experiencing physical and sexual violence when they attempt to leave their abusers since this represents a challenge to the abusers' control. One study found that two thirds of the women in their sample were sexually assaulted at the end of the relationship.

Despite the historical myth that rape by one's partner is a relatively insignificant event, causing little trauma, research shows that partner rape often has severe and long-lasting consequences for women. Indeed, rape by a partner is more likely to result in physical injury than rape by a stranger. The physical effects of partner rape may include injuries to the vaginal and anal areas, lacerations, soreness, bruising, torn muscles, fatigue and vomiting.

Women who have been physically abused and raped by their husbands may suffer other physical consequences including broken bones, black eyes, bloody noses, and knife wounds that occur during the sexual violence. Campbell and Alford (1989) report that one half of the partner rape survivors in their sample were kicked, hit or burned during sex. Specific gynaecological consequences of partner rape include vaginal stretching, miscarriages, stillbirths, bladder infections, infertility and the potential contraction of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV infection.

Given that women who are raped by their partners are likely to experience multiple assaults, completed sexual attacks, and rape by someone that they once presumably loved and trusted, it is not surprising that partner rape survivors seem to suffer severe and long-term psychological. Similar to other survivors of sexual violence, some of the short-term effects of partner rape include anxiety, shock, intense fear, depression, suicidal ideation, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Compared to women raped by strangers and those whom they don't know well, partner rape survivors report even higher rates of anger and depression. Long term effects often include disordered eating, sleep problems, depression, problems establishing trusting relationships, and increased negative feelings about themselves. Research has also indicated that the psychological effects are likely to be long lasting. Some partner rape survivors report flash-backs, sexual dysfunction, and emotional pain for years after the violence.

Survivors of partner rape are less likely than other survivors of violence to report their assaults to formal service providers, friends, or family members. Reporting rape in marriage may become even more complicated because of a woman's relationship to her assailant. Women raped by their husbands may hesitate to report because of family loyalty, fear of their abuser's retribution, inability to leave the relationship, or they may not know that rape in marriage is against the law or even ‘name’ their experience as rape.

Many women (and men) believe that only stranger rape is ‘real rape;’ and other women see sex in marriage as an obligation and define forced sex as a ‘wifely duty,’ not rape. Obviously, if women do not ‘name’ their experiences as rape, they are unlikely to seek outside assistance to stop the violence.

Last month the UK Government launched its Serious Violence Action Plan with welcome news of expansion of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs). Unfortunately, as with its efforts to reduce domestic violence, the strategy is overly focused on the criminal justice system (CJS).

Whilst this is critical to address the pitifully low rates of conviction for rape and domestic violence, the CJS involves only a fraction of the women who experience violence. As argued in a new paper by the End Violence Against Women campaign, we need both Rape Crisis Centres and SARCs if we are to provide the support that raped and sexually assaulted women need and deserve.

Until we eliminate the sense of entitlement which some men have to women’s sexual services, women will continue to be pressured, threatened and violated both by individual men and the systems which are supposed to protect them and offer justice.

Davina James-Hanman is director of the Greater London Domestic Violence Project

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Why Jeremy Corbyn is a new leader for the New Times

In an inspired election campaign, he confounded his detractors and showed that he was – more than any other leader – in tune with the times.

There have been two great political turning points in postwar Britain. The first was in 1945 with the election of the Attlee government. Driven by a popular wave of determination that peacetime Britain would look very different from the mass unemployment of the 1930s, and built on the foundations of the solidaristic spirit of the war, the Labour government ushered in full employment, the welfare state (including the NHS) and nationalisation of the basic industries, notably coal and the railways. It was a reforming government the like of which Britain had not previously experienced in the first half of the 20th century. The popular support enjoyed by the reforms was such that the ensuing social-democratic consensus was to last until the end of the 1970s, with Tory as well as Labour governments broadly operating within its framework.

During the 1970s, however, opposition to the social-democratic consensus grew steadily, led by the rise of the radical right, which culminated in 1979 in the election of Margaret Thatcher’s first government. In the process, the Thatcherites redefined the political debate, broadening it beyond the rather institutionalised and truncated forms that it had previously taken: they conducted a highly populist campaign that was for individualism and against collectivism; for the market and against the state; for liberty and against trade unionism; for law and order and against crime.

These ideas were dismissed by the left as just an extreme version of the same old Toryism, entirely failing to recognise their novelty and therefore the kind of threat they posed. The 1979 election, followed by Ronald Reagan’s US victory in 1980, began the neoliberal era, which remained hegemonic in Britain, and more widely in the West, for three decades. Tory and Labour governments alike operated within the terms and by the logic of neoliberalism. The only thing new about New Labour was its acquiescence in neoliberalism; even in this sense, it was not new but derivative of Thatcherism.

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 marked the beginning of the end of neoliberalism. Unlike the social-democratic consensus, which was undermined by the ideological challenge posed by Thatcherism, neoliberalism was brought to its knees not by any ideological alternative – such was the hegemonic sway of neoliberalism – but by the biggest financial crisis since 1931. This was the consequence of the fragility of a financial sector left to its own devices as a result of sweeping deregulation, and the corrupt and extreme practices that this encouraged.

The origin of the crisis lay not in the Labour government – complicit though it was in the neoliberal indulgence of the financial sector – but in the deregulation of the banking sector on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1980s. Neoliberalism limped on in the period after 2007-2008 but as real wages stagnated, recovery proved a mirage, and, with the behaviour of the bankers exposed, a deep disillusionment spread across society. During 2015-16, a populist wave of opposition to the establishment engulfed much of Europe and the United States.

Except at the extremes – Greece perhaps being the most notable example – the left was not a beneficiary: on the contrary it, too, was punished by the people in the same manner as the parties of the mainstream right were. The reason was straightforward enough. The left was tarnished with the same brush as the right: almost everywhere social-democratic parties, albeit to varying degrees, had pursued neoliberal policies. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair became – and presented themselves as – leaders of neoliberalism and as enthusiastic advocates of a strategy of hyper-globalisation, which resulted in growing inequality. In this fundamental respect these parties were more or less ­indistinguishable from the right.

***

The first signs of open revolt against New Labour – the representatives and evangelists of neoliberal ideas in the Labour Party – came in the aftermath of the 2015 ­election and the entirely unpredicted and overwhelming victory of Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election. Something was happening. Yet much of the left, along with the media, summarily dismissed it as a revival of far-left entryism; that these were for the most part no more than a bunch of Trots. There is a powerful, often overwhelming, tendency to see new phenomena in terms of the past. The new and unfamiliar is much more difficult to understand than the old and familiar: it requires serious intellectual effort and an open and inquiring mind. The left is not alone in this syndrome. The right condemned the 2017 Labour Party manifesto as a replica of Labour’s 1983 manifesto. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

That Corbyn had been a veteran of the far left for so long lent credence to the idea that he was merely a retread of a failed past: there was nothing new about him. In a brilliant election campaign, Corbyn not only gave the lie to this but also demonstrated that he, far more than any of the other party leaders, was in tune with the times, the candidate of modernity.

Crises, great turning points, new conjunctures, new forms of consciousness are by definition incubators of the new. That is one of the great sources of their fascination. We can now see the line of linkage between the thousands of young people who gave Corbyn his overwhelming victory in the leadership election in 2015 and the millions of young people who were enthused by his general election campaign in 2017. It is no accident that it was the young rather than the middle-aged or the seniors who were in the vanguard: the young are the bearers and products of the new, they are the lightning conductors of change. Their elders, by contrast, are steeped in old ways of thinking and doing, having lived through and internalised the values and norms of neoliberalism for more than 30 years.

Yet there is another, rather more important aspect to how we identify the new, namely the way we see politics and how politics is conceived. Electoral politics is a highly institutionalised and tribal activity. There have been, as I argued earlier, two great turning points in postwar politics: the social-democratic era ushered in by the 1945 Labour government and the neoliberal era launched by the Tory government in 1979.

The average Tory MP or activist, no doubt, would interpret history primarily in terms of Tory and Labour governments; Labour MPs and activists would do similarly. But this is a superficial reading of politics based on party labels which ignores the deeper forces that shape different eras, generate crises and result in new paradigms.

Alas, most political journalists and columnists are afflicted with the same inability to distinguish the wood (an understanding of the deeper historical forces at work) from the trees (the day-to-day manoeuvring of parties and politicians). In normal times, this may not be so important, because life continues for the most part as before, but at moments of great paradigmatic change it is absolutely critical.

If the political journalists, and indeed the PLP, had understood the deeper forces and profound changes now at work, they would never have failed en masse to rise above the banal and predictable in their assessment of Corbyn. Something deep, indeed, is happening. A historical era – namely, that of neoliberalism – is in its death throes. All the old assumptions can no longer be assumed. We are in new territory: we haven’t been here before. The smart suits long preferred by New Labour wannabes are no longer a symbol of success and ambition but of alienation from, and rejection of, those who have been left behind; who, from being ignored and dismissed, are in the process of moving to the centre of the political stage.

Corbyn, you may recall, was instantly rejected and ridiculed for his sartorial style, and yet we can now see that, with a little smartening, it conveys an authenticity and affinity with the times that made his style of dress more or less immune from criticism during the general election campaign. Yet fashion is only a way to illustrate a much deeper point.

The end of neoliberalism, once so hegemonic, so commanding, is turning Britain on its head. That is why – extraordinary when you think about it – all the attempts by the right to dismiss Corbyn as a far-left extremist failed miserably, even proved counterproductive, because that was not how people saw him, not how they heard him. He was speaking a language and voicing concerns that a broad cross-section of the public could understand and identify with.

***

The reason a large majority of the PLP was opposed to Corbyn, desperate to be rid of him, was because they were still living in the neoliberal era, still slaves to its ideology, still in thrall to its logic. They knew no other way of thinking or political being. They accused Corbyn of being out of time when in fact it was most of the PLP – not to mention the likes of Mandelson and Blair – who were still imprisoned in an earlier historical era. The end of neoliberalism marks the death of New Labour. In contrast, Corbyn is aligned with the world as it is rather than as it was. What a wonderful irony.

Corbyn’s success in the general election requires us to revisit some of the assumptions that have underpinned much political commentary over the past several years. The turmoil in Labour ranks and the ridiculing of Corbyn persuaded many, including on the left, that Labour stood on the edge of the abyss and that the Tories would continue to dominate for long into the future. With Corbyn having seized the political initiative, the Tories are now cast in a new light. With Labour in the process of burying its New Labour legacy and addressing a very new conjuncture, then the end of neoliberalism poses a much more serious challenge to the Tories than it does the Labour Party.

The Cameron/Osborne leadership was still very much of a neoliberal frame of mind, not least in their emphasis on austerity. It would appear that, in the light of the new popular mood, the government will now be forced to abandon austerity. Theresa May, on taking office, talked about a return to One Nation Toryism and the need to help the worst-off, but that has never moved beyond rhetoric: now she is dead in the water.

Meanwhile, the Tories are in fast retreat over Brexit. They held a referendum over the EU for narrowly party reasons which, from a national point of view, was entirely unnecessary. As a result of the Brexit vote, the Cameron leadership was forced to resign and the Brexiteers took de facto command. But now, after the election, the Tories are in headlong retreat from anything like a “hard Brexit”. In short, they have utterly lost control of the political agenda and are being driven by events. Above all, they are frightened of another election from which Corbyn is likely to emerge as leader with a political agenda that will owe nothing to neoliberalism.

Apart from Corbyn’s extraordinary emergence as a leader who understands – and is entirely comfortable with – the imperatives of the new conjuncture and the need for a new political paradigm, the key to Labour’s transformed position in the eyes of the public was its 2017 manifesto, arguably its best and most important since 1945. You may recall that for three decades the dominant themes were marketisation, privatisation, trickle-down economics, the wastefulness and inefficiencies of the state, the incontrovertible case for hyper-globalisation, and bankers and financiers as the New Gods.

Labour’s manifesto offered a very different vision: a fairer society, bearing down on inequality, a more redistributive tax system, the centrality of the social, proper funding of public services, nationalisation of the railways and water industry, and people as the priority rather than business and the City. The title captured the spirit – For the Many Not the Few. Or, to put in another way, After Neoliberalism. The vision is not yet the answer to the latter question, but it represents the beginnings of an answer.

Ever since the late 1970s, Labour has been on the defensive, struggling to deal with a world where the right has been hegemonic. We can now begin to glimpse a different possibility, one in which the left can begin to take ownership – at least in some degree – of a new, post-neoliberal political settlement. But we should not underestimate the enormous problems that lie in wait. The relative economic prospects for the country are far worse than they have been at any time since 1945. As we saw in the Brexit vote, the forces of conservatism, nativism, racism and imperial nostalgia remain hugely powerful. Not only has the country rejected continued membership of the European Union, but, along with the rest of the West, it is far from reconciled with the new world that is in the process of being created before our very eyes, in which the developing world will be paramount and in which China will be the global leader.

Nonetheless, to be able to entertain a sense of optimism about our own country is a novel experience after 30 years of being out in the cold. No wonder so many are feeling energised again.

This article first appeared in the 15 June 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Corbyn: revenge of the rebel

Martin Jacques is the former editor of Marxism Today. 

This article first appeared in the 15 June 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Corbyn: revenge of the rebel

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