I was, as many others were utterly shocked by Jerry Hayes comments on Question Time. When I first heard it, I almost simultaneously broke my laptop, TV and my foot as I jumped up in a fit of anger. Then I took to twitter to express my outrage, posted in my Uni's Women's campaign group Facebook page, and complained to the BBC.
I'm not going to lie, I didn't get a lot of sleep that night (getting angry before going to bed is never a good idea), I woke up and with the Women's campaign group, we set up the petition to try and get him to apologise. Something Mr Hayes is yet to do, (and yet to reply to my tweets informing him so).
Why did the Women's campaign group and I want to set up this petition? Simple.
We do not feel that his comments were acceptable. To say that rape cases that did not end in conviction are "clearly not rape" is down-right wrong. Does every crime that doesn't end in a conviction stop being a crime? No. His comments are severely damaging to those who have experienced, know those who have experienced rape or sexual assault or those who fight for justice. His comments implied that these people are liars, if there is no conviction then there is no rape, therefore the defendant is lying.
In a culture that makes it difficult for survivors to come forward and report this heinous crime, for them to naturally not to be believed, despite the fact the CPS have published a report showing how rare false rape allegations actually are. Mr Hayes comments do nothing to dispel these myths, that are perpetuated by the culture we live in, the media and by MRAs. Furthermore the fact that Mr Hayes is a barrister, works within the judicial system, makes it even more concerning, as it has been well documented how stressful and humiliating the court process can be for the survivor, as shown in many cases, some where the victim has ended up committing suicide because of the ordeal of the courtroom.
The least this event will cause, is an awareness of the attitudes that some people hold about rape cases, maybe the outrage we show will make people think - That's what I'm hoping anyway. We may not get an apology out of Mr Hayes, as shown by his comments on his blog. I doubt he will really, but hopefully with this petition, we can show our outrage. The fact he mentioned the petition, and the abuse he has been getting on twitter, resulting in him writing that post, must have had an impact - maybe he realises what he said was wrong? - But then again, why won't he just hold his hands up and say sorry I didn't word it better, that's not what I meant. - Maybe he's too stubborn to admit, the wording, the comment, was wrong.
Sadly (for him) I am also stubborn, so we won't stop until we get a proper apology.
He also says in his blog, that this is an issue of free speech. Why? We have every right to petition what he said - that's us using our free speech. We just want him to realise what he said was wrong, and offensive. Personally I can't see why we are hurting his free speech. With free speech he has the right to say ignorant things, but we will call him out, educate, and show him why he is wrong. That's the glory of free speech, debate.
So read, sign & share the petition. The one which apparently Mugabe would be proud of. https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/jerry-hayes-the-bbc-publicly-apologise-for-comments-on-bbcqt-acknowledge-them-as-wrong-2
- Lauren Read (Ramblingaofastudentfeminist.blogspot.co.uk)