There would appear to be a patent unfairness in the fact that someone who says she has been raped – usually a woman – has the right to remain anonymous, while the alleged perpetrator – usually a man – invariably has his name made public.
This week offered a graphic illustration. Malcolm Blackman, an organiser of the Occupy protest in London, was acquitted on two charges of rape while at the camp, but complained that his reputation was still ruined. His case will add to the growing calls for those accused of rape and sexual assault to enjoy the same anonymity as the victim, until and unless they are convicted.
But this week provided an equally graphic example of why, on balance, it is right to identify the accused. After the name of the veteran broadcaster Stuart Hall was released following his arrest, many more women came forward to relate similar experiences. Hall, it emerged, had a pattern of such behaviour over many years; his denials could not withstand the litany of accusations; he pleaded guilty to multiple charges.
Someone wrongly accused of rape has reason to feel aggrieved, but ultimately obtains justice in court. A victim too frightened or ashamed to report a rape is deprived of justice for ever.
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