Ched Evans playing for Sheffield United in 2012. Photo: Getty
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The “ruined lives” of Oscar Pistorius and Ched Evans: why do men matter more than women?

The narrative of the fallen abuser is all too familiar: the ruined life that matters is the man’s rather than the woman he raped, hit or killed.

Ched Evans, professional footballer and convicted rapist, will be walking out of prison on Friday. It’s unclear whether he will be walking back into his career and the money and celebrity that come with it. Over 100,000 people have signed a petition against Evans being reinstated by his ex-club, Sheffield United. The boys have his back though. The chief of the Professional Footballers’ Association said this weekend Evans should be able to return to football. Rapists don’t just have the right to rebuild their lives, it seems. They have the right to be adored, to stroll back to the privileged life they threw away when they forced themselves inside a woman.

CCTV footage showed Evans’s victim was so drunk the night he raped her that she was stumbling into his friend as she walked. She woke up dazed and naked, her clothes scattered on a hotel room floor.

“The complainant was 19 years of age and was extremely intoxicated...As the jury have found, she was in no condition to have sexual intercourse,” the judge told Evans after the trial. “When you arrived at the hotel, you must have realised that.”

It might be worth remembering that as Evans continues to protest his innocence. Calls for a convicted rapist to be allowed to get on with his life somehow mean less when the convicted rapist refuses to admit he did anything wrong. And when “getting on with his life” means sliding back into a position of status and influence, where every Saturday teenage boys would watch an unapologetic rapist cheered and idolised.

I don’t know whether not admitting his guilt is a cynical PR move to soften his return to professional football or Evans has genuinely convinced himself that getting off inside a semi-unconscious woman is either not rape or it is rape and that is okay. He is not alone. Read the #justiceforched hashtag if you need proof of that. The teenager Evans raped is a “dirty slag” and “a money grabbing slut”. He is a hero and his fans, caught in a world where women can simultaneously be rape victims and whores out to ruin men, are on the “one week” countdown until he gets his life back.

We are getting familiar with the narrative of the fallen abuser: the ruined life that matters is the man’s rather than the woman he raped, hit or murdered. The now infamous CNN anchor who reported on the Steubenville rape case and found it “incredibly difficult”, not to see photos of a girl passed around like meat but to see two rapists “that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watch[ing] as they believed their life fell apart”. The NFL needed an actual video of Ray Rice punching his fiancée before getting round to suspending him.

Look at Oscar Pistorius, back in court this week for sentencing and already victimised. “We are left with a broken man,” his personal psychologist remarked. One “who has lost everything”. Still, less than Reeva Steenkamp, I think.

It took the Paralympic committee less than a day after Pistorius was found guilty of killing a woman before welcoming him back to the fold.

“Oscar’s done a great deal for the Paralympic movement. He’s been an inspiration to millions...,” Craig Spence, the International Paralympic Committee director of media and communications, told BBC Radio 5 Live. “If he wishes to resume his athletics career then we wouldn’t step in his way – we would allow him to compete again in the future.”

An abused female body counts for less than a male body’s ability to run or kick a ball - whether she is raped in a foreign hotel bed or laying dead on her bathroom floor.

I don’t want Ched Evans to rot in jail. I do want him to beg for forgiveness. I want basic remorse to be the absolute minimum needed for any football club to touch him. To exist in a society that would not make this even a question.

I can only imagine how Evans’s victim would feel watching him slip back on his Sheffield United strip; ten men slapping him on the back and tens of thousands cheering. We do know she’d be doing it somewhere she didn’t grow up. The #justiceforched mob saw to it that she had to move home and change identity.

“Until now, [Ched Evans] had a promising career to which he has devoted his whole life since his teens,” Evans’s defence QC says. “That career has now been lost.”

The fallen abuser is always the real victim. Evans and Pistorius play to a culture ready to forgive and excuse them. They have killed and raped women and are wanting their own lives back. This is not rehabilitation. It’s an insult.
 

Frances Ryan is a journalist and political researcher. She writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman, and others on disability, feminism, and most areas of equality you throw at her. She has a doctorate in inequality in education. Her website is here.

Helena Smith
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Can religion trump the climate change deniers? Meet the inter-faith environmentalists

The role of faith in fighting intolerance, protecting the planet, and trumping Trump.

"I need my brothers here with me - Canon Giles and Rabbi Natan," said Dr Husna Ahmad, motioning for the two men to join her at the pulpit. Taking their hands and raising them above her head, she continued:

“[I need them] to be my voice, to fight for my right to practice my religion, for my right to wear the hijab and to care for my sons and daughters and granddaughters - as they would care for their own”.

Why do I ask for this at an evening about climate change? she asked, her voice now shaking with emotion. “Because only when we think as one humanity can we save this planet.”

The meeting at St John’s church, Waterloo, saw Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders come together for the first-ever "Faith for the Climate" event. Their message echoed the wider Interfaith movement's statement on climate change: that caring for the earth is our shared responsibility. 

As so often with environmental subjects, the effort felt at risk of being shadowed by the more tangible needs of the soup-kitchen operating in the dusk outside. Yet at a time of rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism building cross-community connections and tackling prejudice matter more than ever.

Not least since the fledgling consensus on climate change is also under threat. In the US, one of the world's great polluters, the Republican candidate Donald Trump is a climate change denier. 

During last night's televised debate Hillary Clinton took the businessman to task for saying that climate change was "a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese". Trump denied the accusation: "I did not, I did not, I do not say that," he responded. Yet his tweet history suggests otherwise - revealing how a toxic mix of xenophobia and climate scepticism play their part in his wider message.

Prepped with tea and pitta bread, attendees bore witness to a talk by Sir David King - the Foreign secretary's special representative on climate change. By 2035 the world needs to be at net zero emissions, King explained.

Unbearable heat waves, extreme flooding and biblical-levels of crop-destruction wait on the other side of this deadline.

Last week’s UN conference in New York has seen over 30 new nations, including the UK, officially commit to the Paris climate treaty.  Yet against such optimism must be set the looming prospect of a Trump Presidency in America. 

Not only has Trump said he would “cancel” America’s commitment to the Paris agreement. He has also promised to end the “war on coal”, scrap the Environment Protection Agency, and appoint an oil executive to be the Interior secretary. Without America’s support for global action on climate change, the 1.5 degrees target would be impossible to reach.

So how can religion help? On a direct level, many faith-based bodies are already utilising their vast networks to help tackle the challenge.

Since 2004, Operation Noah, a UK-based Christian charity, has called on the church to divest from fossil fuels.

Sir King also described the Pope's 2015 environmental encyclical as an important part of the "crescendo" that set the stage for the successful negotiations on the global climate deal. On the back of such international progress, groups such as Christian Aid, Islamic Relief and the Big Church Switch are strengthening their interventions. Just last week, Christian Aid announced a new $53m fund to improve energy efficiency in developing countries. 

But there is perhaps also another, less direct, way that religion is helping. Christian evangelicals in the US have been more likely to be climate sceptics. Yet in inter-religious contexts, the multiplicity of interpretations can also be an invitation to a deeper interrogation - of the very way we form assumptions about the world. 

Just look at how many takes there have been on the Noah story within Christianity alone. Mike Hulme at Kings College London points to an American Christian evangelical coalition which supports fossil fuels for their ability to provide cheap energy for the poor. Others have claimed that God’s promise to Noah not to drastically alter the earth again means that the impact of climate change will be softened. In contrast, others read floods as a punishment for human sin. According to the Bishop of Carlisle, the 2007 floods were “the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused.”

While it may be tempting to pack unpalatable viewpoints off in a "basket of deplorables", or wipe them out with an apocalyptic flood, the takeaway from events like last Wednesday's seems to be a message of expanded community and common ground.

For Canon Giles, simply watching members of different faiths united in prayer had transformative power. "In that moment, we were no longer a gathering of different faiths and dogmas," he said. "We were simply members of the muddled human species, pooling our hopes and prayers."

India Bourke is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.