In 2014, in London, 307 men reported being raped to the Metropolitan police. Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty
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A male rape charity has had its funding slashed to zero. Where are all the outraged men?

A vital service for men who have been affected by sexual abuse has lost funding, and yet so-called “Men’s Rights Activists” are still more interested in bringing feminists down.

Survivors UK is a UK charity with over 20 years of experience in listening and helping male survivors of rape and sexual abuse. The charity offers both individual counselling and group therapy services for victims and they provide training to professionals and organisations working with male rape survivors. Recent government statistics estimate that 75,000 men are victims of sexual assault or attempted assault and 9,000 men are victims of rape or attempted rape every year. Yet, despite the figures, dangerous stereotypes still persist that men can’t get raped and we can’t seem to break the taboo around the subject.

Survivors UK are trying to change that. In 2014, in London, 307 men reported being raped to the Metropolitan police – an increase of 120 per cent from the 2012 figures. In July last year, after a review of victim services in London, it was made one of the four priority areas for the mayor to remedy with the application of the £15m funding in his control to improve services for victims. In 2015, in London, Survivors UK’s funding has been slashed to nothing.

I am outraged and we all should be. Survivors UK run a vital service for men who have been affected by sexual abuse and if it shuts, this will affect countless men in London. But perhaps what makes me angrier is that so few men and men’s rights activists (more commonly known as MRAs online) have condemned this. I’m always being told that feminists don’t give a shit about issues like male rape or suicide. In fact, our detractors contend, feminists don’t give a shit about men. In case you missed the memo, feminists hate men. At least that’s the impression that we get from anti-feminist men and MRAs, mostly active on the web where they moan about men being oppressed because obviously, being a man is so hard these days.

Yes, there are issues that predominantly affect men like homelessness and suicide, but surely it’s a no brainer that both men and women suffer in our patriarchal society – one that prizes masculinity and expects only three things of women: to get married, get fucked and have babies.

However, Paul Elam, the founder of A Voice for Men, disagrees and told the Huffington Post that “the problem we see is a culture that puts women first in so many ways and men last”. Men’s Rights Canada launched their controversial “Don’t be that Girl” campaign, which said that women often make false rape accusations because they feel guilty for having one night stands. And on Return of Kings, when commenting on the statistic that 90 per cent of women know the perpetrators in rape cases, a contributor wrote that “a man looking to rape someone would not pick a target who could identify him to the police”. The focus from men’s rights activists seems to be on false rape accusations by women (which are far and few) rather than helping male victims of sexual violence.

The reality is that MRAs are a group of misogynists who spend their time on the internet saying things that simply aren’t true or attacking women. The Southern Poverty Law Centre describes their activism as “dedicated to savaging feminists and in particular, women”. MRAs do not really care about men. They resent feminists not only because their campaign to get rid of Page 3 denied them their daily wank at the breakfast table, but also because every step forward in achieving gender equality, where women are not a subclass of fuckable objects, is a disadvantage in their eyes. And sadly, their resentment towards the fight for the liberation for women does not actually make any difference to the men they are trying to help. I’m sure than men who genuinely believe in gender equality must be fed up with their rhetoric that the reason why men are “suffering” is because of women.

For instance, on “The Rights of Man”, Skimmington writes that all-women shortlists for political selections mean that “men are banned (in Labour’s case) from standing for Parliament solely because they are men”. I guess I didn’t notice the men who are MPs for the Labour Party. Paul Elam once wrote on “A Voice for Men” that drunk women were “freaking begging to be raped”.

It seems that if men and MRAs aren’t writing, and let’s be honest, complete bullshit, they are attacking women. Men’s rights activist and founder of Justice for Men and Boys (and the women who love them), Mike Buchanan, has accused the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates of lying because she talks about sexism and the disproportionate effects it has on women compared to men. He also gives out “awards” to feminists for “lying”. Men on the internet can send the feminist campaigner, Caroline Criado-Perez online abuse detailing how they want to kill, mutilate and rape her, interspersed with complaints about the inequalities that men face and how men are neglected. But do we see them taking any action?

Since the funding for Survivors UK was cut, Michael May started a petition calling for proper funding for men’s services. Since he started it, another one was initiated by Andy Keene asking that the Diversity and Equalities Officer of Goldsmith’s University be sacked. Bahar Mustafa created an event and asked that men did not attend because she wanted to create a safe space for black and minority ethnic women. That petition had over 23,700 signatories compared with the just over 3,900 signatories of the Survivors UK. It’s hard not to draw conclusions about the relative weight given to these two issues from this.

The idea that the world doesn’t revolve around men’s needs is inconceivable for MRAs, and that is why they try and get women to shut up, painting misogyny as the righteous option in the process. Men’s rights activists forget that the feminist fight for equality will benefit us all. As Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project has said, “It’s not about men against women but people against prejudice”.

Survivors UK are a male rape charity that has lost all their funding. Please sign their petition here to get their funding reinstated.

June Eric-Udorie is a 17-year-old writer whose writing has appeared in Cosmopolitan and the New Statesman among others.

Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.

Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.