The day after the Ched Evans trial verdict was grim. Women were contacting me in sheer agony. Most had listened to the graphic details of the case in horror. The callous, indifferent treatment of Woman X during the night in 2011 and the treatment of her in that courtroom, where her sexual history was paraded for the world; unbearably painful to hear. How painful must it have been for that poor woman? Women wept for her. Women are still crying.
A few women said we should do something. They wanted me to front it. I said I would. I have taken abuse before and another round would make little difference. So I took a deep breath and started the fund. I very deliberately chose to list the target as £50,000 as this was the amount of "reward" offered for evidence by the website of Ched Evans. Surely we could try our best to raise that amount for a decent cause instead?
What happened has been overwhelming. The messages of support for Woman X are heartbreaking. I have cried many times this past week listening. Women talk of their own experiences and how this verdict left them on their knees and feeling hopeless that anyone would ever care about their experience. Men are quieter in their expression, but they are donating in support of women they know and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Every £5 is a gesture of love, kindness and understanding that this woman and other women need their solidarity and support. Some of those women donating are going hungry to do so. It matters more to them than food that women get justice from our courts. That thought makes me weep. With misery at what has probably happened to them and joy that they have such compassion for others.
The reporting rate for rapes has doubled over the last five years whilst convictions have halved. This probably means more rapes and less rapists in jail. It means that women are disbelieved, in very large numbers, by juries. Or before that stage, by police who take the initial report. It means that we have a serious failure to help women at every step of our justice system.
Few rapes are reported. Of those, only 11% result in a conviction. The women who report them are still 100% raped. The men who raped them are still 100% on our streets.
The problem that has now been raised by the use of past sexual history via the hideous loophole of section 41, means fewer women than ever will dare to report. The thought of that happening to them is terrifying. It isn’t a precedent legally. It has been in existence and frugally used since 1999. But, this case has amplified the awareness of it for victims and for rapists. That will potentially have a disastrous effect.
A woman’s sexual history is irrelevant. Raped women react in a vast variety of ways. Women who enjoy sex can be raped just as easily as women who have never had sex. The rapist is the common denominator here. His past sexual history would probably be a lot more revealing.
Women are helped by rape crisis after the most horrific invasions of their body and their spirit by men. It can often be the first point of contact and it can go on long after the incident and any attempts to seek justice. Rape Crisis England And Wales have agreed to accept half the fund. I am pleased about that. Women will be helped by this fund in a very practical way.
Woman X has asked why people are doing this? She can’t believe there are people who care after what she went through in court. She is comforted to hear the answer. The answer is simple. Women love women. We help women. I’m told Woman X is drawing strength from reading the messages. The police officer involved in liasing with her said the fund has restored his faith in humanity. This is not just money. This is people behaving very, very, decently.
Thank you to the men who have helped too. You are lighting the way for other men. There are lots who remain very dark. They shout on Twitter. They don’t help anyone.
Men who rape women are subhuman. Women who help women overcome those rapes are being the very best humans they can be.