Monday, October 30, 2006

This blog has now moved to WordPress

This blog, including all the old posts and comments, has now moved to WordPress.

http://speakoutonmaleviolence.wordpress.com/

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

The war of terror against women

In a thread discussing the recent school shooting of 10 Amish schoolgirls, Heart at Women's Space/The Margins has written a brilliant comment regarding the war of terror on women.

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I don’t think men have to be conscious, intentional misogynists in order to terrorize women. In fact, I think there are very few Marc Lepines– men who consciously, intentionally hate women and decide to terrorize them.

When someone is robbing a certain neighborhood, he is terrorizing the neighborhood. That might not be his purpose or his intent– he might just want to rob people. But the effect of what he does is terrorism because before, people in the neighborhood weren’t scared all the time, looking behind them, listening for every noise but now they are.

I think when men murder women, rape women, incest them, that is terrorism in a similar way. If you asked them, they would tell you about all the women they treat well and care for, and that the only reason they murdered their wife or these women or raped them or whatever was because of (some reason that makes sense to them). Not because they hate women. But the terrorizing in and of itself evidences the hatred, regardless of what the guy says his intention is, in the same way that, for example, someone who uses racist hate speech or engages in racist actions evidences his racism, even if he tells you he’s not a racist because after all, he was nice to his maid and the doorman and the janitor. However nice he might have been to these people, his racist acts would still be terrorism against the race he was targeting, would still have the same effects, would still serve the purpose of shoring up his power as a white man, would still benefit all white men.

Same thing with sexual terrorism. It doesn’t matter if a rapist or murderer was nice to his mom, his wife and his kids. His raping and murdering still terrorizes women and evidences his misogyny. It doesn’t matter what the Amish murderer says about God, his fantasies, vengeance, molesting relatives, none of it. It is irrelevant that he entered an Amish schoolhouse. He did that because it was easy; these little girls were sitting ducks. His father served the Amish in his business; this guy knew the Amish were pacifists and would not resist him.

He entered that school with a long board with 10 eyehole screws screwed into it, and with cords. He held 10 girls hostage. The eyehole screws were 10 inches apart, just the right amount of space to tie the hands of 10 little girls to each eyehole screw after he’d pounded the board into the wall (he brought plenty of tools), and then sexually assault all of them. His plans were foiled when police approached and told him to put down the gun. He panicked and started shooting.

But this was a predatory, murdering, terrorist. It doesn’t matter what he said about anything. It matters what he DID. It’s what he did that made him a sexual terrorist and a hater of women.

Heart

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The war against women

So you don't believe me?

Check out Amananta's latest post on her blog "How long before they admit it". It is a brilliant post cataloguing just one month's crimes against women - and these were just the 'newsworthy' ones.

Of my favourite comments so far, from angryandqueer, was:
"You know, one aspect of this that troubles me is the way so many woman-killers or girl-killers so easily substitute one female for another. Only by this logic can a man exact “revenge” against his ex-wife by shooting a bunch of other females who are completely unconnected to his life. And the sad thing is that this logic is innately understood by people who hear or talk about these events without ever being questioned."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sexual Predator 'led double life'

Jennifer (Truth About Rape Campaign) gives her analysis of the recent case of a 'Mr Nice Guy' who was in reality, a despicable teen predator. He was only caught through an investigation of theft.

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Anthony De Boise a 58 year old Wandsworth Council Planning Officer, married for 30 years was convicted of raping at least six young women between 1989 and 1996. De Boise had deliberately disguised himself as a tramp in order to seek out young women at various beauty spots, Southwark Crown Court were told.

De Boise's defence barrister attempted to mitigate De Boise's litany of rape and sexual abuse against these young women by suggesting that a change of diabetes medication might be partly to blame, as well as work pressure!! The barrister went on 'how else do you explain such behaviour for a man married for 30 years who has an exemplary working record and is very hardworking'. So the real perpetrators were (apparently) 'work pressure and because De Boise was given a different diabetes medication'. This was a poor attempt at deflecting De Boise's actions and excusing his actions. In reality, De Boise is a clever, calculating and manipulative man who made a decision to seek out young women and sexually abuse them.

Rape survivors however are not so fortunate, they are not allowed to present character testimony in respect of their 'respectability'. Instead they are blamed and held partially or totally responsible for a man/men raping them. Defence counsel too, routinely minutely question them about their sexual histories (despite a change in the law restricting such questions, medical records, any mental illnesses or problems they might have experienced and whether they have had an abortion, are single mothers etc. All in order to discredit the survivor as a non-credible witness. Fortunately in this case De Boise admitted raping these young women.

These rape survivors were also portrayed in my opinion as pathologised 'victims'. Yes, the prosecution had to show how they were affected after being subjected to sexually degrading sexual abuse by De Boise. No, these survivors will not remain 'victims'. Yes, all these young women no longer trust any man and in fact there is no reason why they should. Yes, these survivors' lives have been radically changed but survivors do recover and no they are not the same women before De Boise sexually abused them. They will have changed, that is inevitable. The real tragedy is that men's sexual violence against women does have a long-term impact on both rape survivors and their families. Perhaps one of the reasons why one of the survivor's family was placed on medication was because there is an ever-increasing shortage of rape crisis centres in the UK, plus a chronic shortage of expert counselling services which are well-funded and easily within the financial means of families. Instead, rape survivors and their families will continue to be left to deal with the long-term effects by themselves. Men's sexual violence does have far reaching effects both on the survivor and her ability to lead what is termed a 'normal life' and also secondary effects on her friends and families. That is the real and continuing tragedy not the defence's claim that a so-called 'respectable man' married for 30 years, was adversely affected by work pressure and a change in his medication.

De Boise made a choice to rape women and rightly has been found guilty.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rape judge slammed for leniency

Jennifer (Truth About Rape Campaign) gives her views on the sentencing that was increased by the Appeal Court.

Please first read the article "Rape judge slammed for leniency" from the BBC website.

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The Appeal Court has rightly increased two male convicted rapists' sentences from a 24 month detention order and 18 month order to four years and three and a half years in prison respectively. The Appeal Court quite rightly criticised the original sentencing judge for treating a young woman's group rape by two teenage boys as just a 'childish prank gone wrong'. In reality, these two convicted boy-rapists deliberately planned the rape of this young woman since they knew the young woman believed she was safe because she was acquainted with them. These boys raped the young woman in the presence of three other young men (sic) who apparently did nothing themselves to prevent the boys raping this young woman.

How fortunate that this young woman was able to 'prove she was not able to defend herself' against a multiple attack and subsequently these two boys were convicted of rape.

Judge Bullimore when sentencing these boys to detention orders spoke about how these sentences would affect the boys and their families. However, the judge made no mention of the young woman's ordeal in being raped by two teen boys or how she has been affected by such a serious crime. Judge Bullimore instead believed the rape was not really rape but just the case of a 'childish prank gone wrong'. This effectively excuses and exonerates a very serious crime committed against this young woman by two teen boys.

However, these two teen boys were not little children, instead they were in their late teens. The judge spoke about the boys' supposed immaturity and naivity, plus the fact they both came from supportive and loving homes. Since when is immaturity and naivity an excuse for the crime of rape? These boys were responsible for the rape not their families! These two boys alone made the decision to rape this young woman and the fact they come from loving and supportive homes is totally irrelevant. The families did not rape this young woman, instead it was the two teen boys who committed this rape.

It is heartening to read that on this occasion the Appeal Court did not believe this multipe rape was just 'a childish prank' and rightly criticised Judge Bullimore for his blatant biased remarks. The Appeal Court judges rightly stated the rape of this young woman was a very serious offence and irrespective of the boys' ages merited a substantial period of detention.

Although the Appeal Judges stated they could not understand why Judge Bullimore said that in some circumstances he might have imposed a non-custodial sentence on the teen boy who held the young woman down or Judge Bullimore's remarks that he could understand why the boy who had forcibly restrained the young woman had pleaded not guilty to this offence.

Sadly, Judge Bullimore like so many individuals who work within the legal system, still have little or no understanding of the reality of male sexual violence against women. Despite efforts to 'educate and train' judges there appears to be an embedded resistance to the realities of males raping and/or sexually abusing women and girls.

Judge Bullimore by saying this was 'just a childish prank' continues to justify and excuse male sexual violence against women, since once again in his view, it was just a case of 'boys being boys' not one of calculated male sexual violence against women.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Paris: seven policemen charged with rape of prostitutes

From 'Liberation' newspaper, Wednesday 13th September 2006, and NouvelObs.com.

Seven members of the parisian riot police (CRS) are facing sentences of up to twenty years imprisonment for the rape of three eastern european prostitutes in April 2003. Three of the men admitted to the rapes during an internal police inquiry and are charged with aggravated rape, while four others are charged with complicity. Only one of the women will be present at the court proceedings as the others have - understandably - fled from fear of reprisal from the men.

Late one night in April the police picked up the first women on the pretence of checking her ID documents, took her to an isolated area next to a motorway and raped her, then returned her to the street where they found her. Later the same night they picked up the other two women on the same pretext, took them to the same isolated area and forced them to have sex in exchange for the return of their ID documents. One woman attempted to run away and was recaptured and raped. On the journey back both women managed to escape from the car and were picked up by a passing lorry driver.

It is excellent to see that the police and courts are taking this case seriously, particularly considering the women were prostitutes and therefore had even less chance of being believed than non-prostitutes. The men involved obviously believed this to be the case.

The case is also a good example of why so few women go to the police when they have been raped or sexually assualted - according to Truth About Rape less than 7% of women report their rape to the police - we know that there is no reason why policemen will be any different from the men who assualted or raped us.

These rapists are normal men with supposedly respectable jobs who feel entitled to use women in any way they please. Let's hope they get what they deserve - I'll keep you posted.

A Crackdown On Encrypted Child Pornography

Events in Sussex last year in which Jane Longhurst tragically and horrifically threw the spotlight on another form of extreme material on the internet — violent pornography in which children and women are depicted as the victims of rape, torture and asphyxiation.

There has been remarkable progress in a comparatively short period, as politicians and the public have responded positively to the call for a crackdown on both violent pornography and encrypted child pornography.

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It would seem in the past few months or so, the police, spurned on by press and public, have been forced to take note of the Internet and its potential to harm vulnerable individuals and groups. Nobody likes being told what to do, especially when you are used to saying what you want, to whom you want. Until recently, the Web has been an open forum for freedom of expression. However, as its audience grows, so does the possibility of offending someone's sensibilities. Therefore, whether some people like it or not, welcoming restrictions are being developed and implemented.


[Related article from The Observer, 27 Aug 2006]
Suspected paedophiles who refuse to show police encrypted images on their computers could receive much longer prison sentences under laws being considered by the government.

The proposal has won support from a coalition of children's charities, which are worried that an increasing number of paedophiles are using sophisticated software to hide child pornography from investigators. Currently, anyone refusing to reveal an encrypted image to police faces a maximum of two years in prison. But making and disseminating child pornography carries a maximum 10-year sentence, so some suspects refuse to decrypt images in the knowledge they will receive a lighter sentence.

In May, Home Office minister Liam Byrne signalled the government's concern over the issue, acknowledging that 'the use of encryption is proliferating'.

A government consultation about giving judges powers to increase sentences for suspected paedophiles who refuse to unlock encrypted files closes this week. It highlights a number of cases in which suspects refused to co-operate. One, the consultation document notes, had '27 encrypted disks, none of which could be opened'. In another case, images of child rape were recovered along with encrypted files 'giving rise to concern they may contain worse material'.

The Conservatives have called for the maximum sentence to be increased to seven years. The charities, which includes NCH, Barnardo's and the NSPCC, have written to the Home Office saying there is an urgent need for the law to be changed.

The consultation discusses the higher sentences as part of amendments to the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. The legislation was introduced in 2000 but, after a public backlash, the government dropped the part of the act that made it an offence to refuse to hand over encryption keys.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Why men's verbal sexual coercion is rape - not just unwanted sex

An essay by Jennifer (Truth About Rape Campaign) on why verbal coercion IS rape.

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I was recently researching the subject of language and gender, whereupon I chanced upon a book entitled Language and Sexuality by Deborah Cameron and Don Kulik. In one of their chapters, Cameron and Kulik write that in the early 1990’s Antioch College in the US, introduced a campus-wide Sexual Consent Policy. This Policy clearly stated that consent to sexual activity was to be defined not by one partner saying ‘no’ but rather by saying ‘yes.’ Central to this policy was the requirement that an affirmative yes must be obtained, before either partner proceeded to perform any sexual act upon the other person. In other words, neither person was to presume they knew precisely what their partner wanted or desired sexually, but had to actually ask for permission! (Cameron, D. & Kulik, D. 2003: 36). Of course the US press and even international press heard about this new Sexual Consent Policy and the media’s opinion overwhelmingly was one of ‘political correctness gone mad.’ Sexual activity according to the US and international press was one of spontaneity not one wherein one person had to seek active consent before engaging in any sexual act with their partner (Cameron, D. & Kulik, D. 2003: 64). Sexual activity, according to the media is always ‘spontaneous’ and having a set of so-called rules would ruin a passionate and sexually desirable encounter! What appalled these critics most was that both parties were actually being asked to speak their desires. In other words, both parties would have to actually say what sexual acts they wanted or did not want enacted upon their bodies.

Deborah Cameron subsequently interviewed students attending Antioch College and learned something totally different to the media’s interpretation. Antioch’s administrators had imposed this Policy in an attempt to reduce the numbers of men raping women. However, Cameron when asking the women students if this policy had reduced the numbers of men committing rape received a very different answer. A number of women spoke about not of feeling safer but rather of having better, more exciting, more varied and more pleasurable sexual encounters. When these women students were asked how this policy had achieved such a difference, their response was it had compelled women to develop a language for representing their desires, both to themselves and to their sexual partners. These women discovered that talking more explicitly than they had done previously, had enhanced their experience of sexual activity. As Cameron says, this view was at odds both with the Antioch authorities and also the media’s interpretation which presumed Antioch were intent on suppressing young people’s (sic) ‘natural’ sexuality. (Cameron, D. & Kulik, D. 2003: 37)

Later, I happened to visit a blog entitled Den Of The Biting Beaver and the author has written several pieces on the subject of men’s sexual coercion and also the denial of women’s sexual autonomy. Biting Beaver wrote a piece entitled ‘Consent = Desire??’. In this article Biting Beaver describes how many men do not use force or threats to gain unwanted sexual intercourse with a woman, but instead resort to verbal and continuous coercion. Biting Beaver describes how many women upon saying no to sexual intercourse with a man; his immediate response is ‘why not?’ Many men refuse to accept a woman’s right of saying no and instead either wants an explanation or simply ignores her answer and instead continues verbally pressurising a woman, often for hours until eventually the woman is utterly worn down and submits. Note she does not actively and freely consent, instead she submits because of such continuous verbal harassment and coercion. In other words, as Biting Beaver says, unless a woman can provide a solid reason which the man will accept as reasonable in his opinion, then the woman has to have unwanted sex, or she really wants it (in his opinion). In order for a woman to believed, the assumption is a woman must use some form of violence if she is to be taken seriously and for her sexual autonomy and agency to be accepted and respected by many men.

Biting Beaver also discovered that a number of her male friends could not understand why verbal coercion is another form of sexual abuse against women. One of the primary reasons is men as a group grow up with the belief since they are male; they have the right and entitlement of having their heterosexual desires satisfied by any woman. That it is acceptable and normal heterosexual male behaviour to continue verbal sexual harassment against any woman or girl who dares to say ‘no’ to any sexual act, since she is being ‘unreasonable’ in his opinion. In other words it is about power, the power to define supposedly normal sexual scripts. Both women’s and men’s sexualities have historically been defined solely from the male-standpoint wherein male sexuality is active and dominant with female sexuality seen as opposite, namely passive and receptive. Society also continues to reinforce these supposedly biologically ‘natural’ views by controlling and constraining women’s sexualities. Which is why any woman society perceives as deviating from what is presumed to be the ‘natural female sexual role’ is punished and judged to be a slut, whore etc., since unlike men, it is a woman’s sexuality which defines her identity. Therefore, it is no wonder so many women find it difficult not only to express their sexual desires and needs, but also for them to be heard and accepted by men as valid.

Verbal sexual pressure or harassment continues to be viewed by many men and women as just part of the ‘normal heterosexual male sex drive.’ Such common-sense views, render abuses of power invisible and at the same time deny women the right of sexual agency and autonomy. This is why so many men believe it is ridiculous having to actually request a woman’s permission before initiating any sexual touching. As Biting Beaver says, it is a man’s right and entitlement to initiate and control any sexual interaction, since society reinforces the belief that a man’s sexual desires is more valid and takes precedence over any woman’s. It is all part of the heterosexual script which is still widely accepted as normal and fixed heterosexual behaviour, not one which has been socially constructed and therefore is changeable.

Such beliefs feed into Biting Beaver’s other very insightful article about women’s sexual autonomy and ownership of their bodies. This article is very interesting to me personally, because at times I have wondered if I am the only woman who believes my body and sexuality belongs to me alone and is not owned by any would-be sexual partner. That no one has the right of presuming to initiate any sexual contact without first seeking mutually and freely given consent. (http://bitingbeaver.blogspot.com/2005/09/hey-its-my-tree.html).

Like Biting Beaver I have often thought what a man would say if I were to remove his trousers and suddenly insert a vibrator into his anus whilst at the same time telling him ‘you will enjoy this, I know you will because it will be good for you’. I am certain the man would protest in the strongest terms that I shouldn’t have done that and even possibly I am committing rape (horrors!). The difference of course, is that men as a group do not routinely experience unwanted sexual activity, do not have their bodies routinely groped by women who believe it is their right and entitlement, or have unwanted sexual activity forced upon them without their permission. Instead as boys, they are taught their bodies belong to them, that being male it is their right and entitlement to seek out sexual encounters and most importantly, they alone are the ones who initiate and control any sexual encounter. Since male sexual pleasure is primary and a female partner’s is very much secondary. Men committing rape and/or sexual abuse against women is a violation of all women’s right to bodily and sexual autonomy, but in saying this, I am not excluding the fact some men rape and sexually abuse other men and boys, but the numbers are far less than men raping and sexually abusing women. Myths still perpetuate the belief that only homosexual men rape other men, whereas in fact the majority of male on male rape is committed by heterosexual males in order to degrade, dehumanise and control a man/boy who is perceived as being not a ‘real man.’

However, unlike heterosexual males, it is women of all sexual orientation or identity who are still denied sexual autonomy and sexual rights. The sexual double standard still exists and it is women’s sexualities which continue to be socially controlled and ‘policed’ by a male-dominant society. Male homosexuals too are subject to social control, but obviously this does not apply to all men unlike women. Women who are perceived as transgressing their sexual role are termed slags, sluts etc. but no such sexist insults exist for heterosexual male behaviour. Instead their actions and behaviours are praised and are considered to be ‘real men.’

There is still a widespread belief that women’s bodies and sexualities belong to men and it is a man’s right to touch his female sexual partner, remove her clothing etc. all without having to ask her permission. Why? Because as Biting Beaver eloquently says, asking a woman for permission before enacting any sexual act upon her is irrelevant, she is only a woman. Asking permission is vital, because it means the partner and this applies equally to both heterosexuals and same-sex couples, that both partners respect the other person’s sexual and bodily autonomy and agency.

Of course one of the embedded rape myths is what Wendy Hollway calls the ‘male sexual drive discourse’ (Hollway, W. 1984 & 1989). Hollway describes the male sexual drive discourse as one wherein men’s need or desire to have penetrative sex is so strong, that it is almost an overwhelming drive and that it exists in all healthy, normal heterosexual men. As such, this is one of the reasons why so many men will go to any lengths to have penetrative sex, including using prostituted women. The media too plays its part in perpetuating this myth, by portraying men as always wanting and needing penetrative sex on a regular basis. Therefore, whilst men are the subjects of this male sexual drive discourse, women are its objects. Men therefore are ‘naturally’ always ready and willing to engage in ‘real’ penetrative sex and it is women, their bodies or pictures of women’s bodies which activate the male sexual drive. (Hollway cited in Gavey, N. 2005: 104). Heterosexual women’s only sexual role is one of gatekeeper, wherein she can only say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, she must not under any circumstances express her own sexual desires or needs. Which is partially why so many men refuse to accept a woman’s ‘no’ to sexual activity as authentic and a woman’s right. It also links into the idea that when a woman says no, she is a ‘tease’ or she ‘must have led the man’ on etc. All of which are entrenched rape myths and which serve to deny women’s right of sexual autonomy and agency.

Imagine what would happen if the legal system and society were to actually recognize and accept that both women and men have the right and ownership of their bodies and sexualities. That any man using verbal sexual coercion against a woman is in fact rape and not just ‘unwanted sex’ since the woman was so worn down by a tirade of constant pressure she eventually submits. Such actions are rape not ‘unwanted sex’. Male rapists would then be less likely to be acquitted of raping women, since the courts and society would finally recognize and accept that the right of bodily integrity and sexual autonomy is NOT the prerequisite of just heterosexual men.

REFERENCES:
Cameron, Deborah & Kulik, Don: 2003: Language and Sexuality, Cambridge University Press
http://bitingbeaver.blogspot.com/2005/09/consent-desire.html
http://bitingbeaver.blogspot.com/2005/09/hey-its-my-tree.html
Hollway, W. 1984: Gender Difference and The Production of Subjectivity. In J.Henriques, W. Hollway, C. Urwin, C. Venn and V. Walkerine, Changing The Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity, London Methuen
Gavey, N. 2005: Just Sex: The Cultural Scaffolding of Rape, Routledge

Justice in the dock...

Jennifer (Truth About Rape Campaign) gives an insight and analysis on the reporting of an horrific attack on a female walker in Scotland, and the coverage of the trial of the self-confessed woman-hating male perpetrator.

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From The New Scotsman, 9 Sep 2006 (reprinted below in its entirety for reference).

Justice in the dock following attack on walker
by SHÂN ROSS AND MICHAEL HOWIE
AN URGENT investigation was last night demanded into why one of Scotland's most violent criminals was released early from prison weeks before carrying out a horrific attack that left an American tourist in a coma.

Colin Ross, a self-confessed woman-hater, yesterday admitted attacking Marty Layman-Mendonca, 57, a teacher from Vermont, with an iron bar near Inverness on 5 July. The attack occurred less than a month after Ross, 34, was released early from a three-year sentence for attacking a female holidaymaker from Germany.


Northern Constabulary were so concerned about the risk he posed to women that on 29 June - six days before the attack - they were granted a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) banning Ross from approaching women or wearing a balaclava. The order also banned him from leaving his home or the immediate area for more than 24 hours without police permission and from getting a job or voluntary work without written approval.

Yesterday, Ross admitted attacking Ms Layman-Mendonca by repeatedly striking her on her head and body with a metal pipe and a boulder, causing life threatening injuries that left her permanently disfigured and impaired, and attempting to murder her. He also admitted carrying her into a wood, dumping her and stealing her possessions before tying her wrists together with shoelaces.

And as Ms Layman-Mendonca remained seriously ill in hospital, police and politicians last night joined forces in attacking the Scottish justice system and demanding to know how the assault was allowed to happen. Margaret Mitchell, the Tory justice spokeswoman, said: "I will be writing to the Lord Advocate asking him to investigate the circumstances surrounding this case to see what lessons can be learned."

Last night, a senior officer said police were "powerless" against lenient sentencing. He described Ross as a "very, very twisted individual who would always be a danger to women unless kept behind bars
indefinitely". The officer said: "The justice system lets the police down a lot. We can only do so much with SOPOs. You could say we are being pro-active by getting Ross on the Sex Offenders Register when he has never been convicted of a sex offence, but it has extreme limitations. People can't be watched 24/7. The only solution in this case would be to keep him in jail."

Ross's behaviour became more and more aggressive over time. In July, 2003, Ross, of Inverness, was sentenced to two years' jail for breach of the peace after being arrested as he lurked in the Culcaboch area of the city with what could have been a rape kit. It included material for hooding and tying up a victim, a balaclava, plus a sinister guide to getting into a woman's house, ending with the chilling words "...and now the fun begins".

In May 2004, while wearing a balaclava and gloves, Ross attacked a German holidaymaker, Ina Bruns, 36, in a forest near Cawdor Castle, outside Inverness. When arrested he was wearing her glasses. He was convicted for three years but released early on 9 June under a supervised release order. Less than a month later, despite the SOPO, he attacked Ms Layman-Mendonca.

The SNP's justice spokesman, Kenny MacAskill, said: "This is a tragic case. There is clearly a problem with the supervision of offenders."

John Scott, chair of the Howard League for Penal Reform in Scotland, questioned the value of SOPOs, but said locking someone up forever was not the answer. "We understand the frustration of the police, but they have their part to play in the justice system too. There can never be any guarantees about how people will behave. They can only be sentenced for what they've done, not for what they might do."

In court yesterday, Lord Wheatley called for a social inquiry report, and the defence will provide a report from a forensic psychologist. Ross will appear again on 3 October. But because an individual risk management plan will have to be drawn up, it could be months before he is sentenced.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Office said: "We play no role in requesting either a risk assessment or in applying for a Sexual Offences Prevention Order. The former is requested by the Scottish Prison Service and SOPOs are applied for by chief constables."

A Scottish Executive spokesperson said: "It is not appropriate for Scottish ministers to comment on the details of an individual offender's case. "However, public protection is a key priority for Scottish ministers and that's why we have taken steps to tighten up release arrangements and improve the management of offenders."

'I wanted to hurt someone'
COLIN Ross had prepared the ambush site, hiding clean clothes, a sponge and a milk bottle full of Dettol in the undergrowth alongside a quiet path. All he needed was a victim.

On Wednesday, 5 July, she arrived. Marty Layman- Mendonca, 57, was on her third visit to Scotland - a country she described as "the most warm and welcoming place on earth" - and was walking the last six miles of her trek along the Great Glen Way when she met Ross. He followed the committed Christian for ten yards, engaged her in conversation and then went into a frenzy. He repeatedly hit her on the head with a metal pipe and a boulder before stealing her rucksack and rifling through the pockets
of her walking shorts for cash. Ross then tied Ms Layman-Mendonca's wrists with shoelaces, leaving her unconscious and bleeding heavily. He buried the boulder and threw the pipe into a pond. Ross wore the victim's rain jacket to cover his bloodstained clothes. He used money he stole from Ms Layman-Mendonca to buy cigarettes and six cans of beer. When he got home, he changed and put his clothes in a black binbag inside a holdall, which he hid behind bushes on a secluded canal path.

Glasgow High Court yesterday heard that when Ms Layman-Mendonca failed to return, her friends contacted the police. At 6pm, a police officer and dog walked the forestry track. After 35 minutes, the dog found Ms Layman-Mendonca lying in a ditch at the side of the track. She had serious head wounds and her face was covered in blood. Her eyes were closed and the skin around them was black and blue. Her wrists were still bound tightly and the wounds were infested with flies. Ms Layman-Mendonca's fingers were also smashed as she had tried to ward off the blows. Her cheeks, eye sockets and jaw were so distorted, lacerated and bloodied by at least 19 blows that she was barely recognisable. She was left in a coma. Even now, her horrific scalp wounds are still open.

When Ross later returned to his house in Inverness, police saw him approach. He did an about-turn when he saw them - he had just dumped Ms Layman-Mendonca's rucksack containing his bloodstained clothes. When he was arrested, he confessed, saying: "I can't cope on the outside. I've got so many anger issues. I am a danger to the public and I don't deserve to be walking about." He claimed cannabis had changed him, turning him into a Jekyll and Hyde character, adding: "I wanted to hurt someone, do a lot of damage to someone."


Derek Ogg, QC, defending, revealed Ross knew that he had violent tendencies and prior to his release from jail had asked for anger-management counselling. A course was eventually arranged three weeks after his release. Ross had also repeatedly asked for drink and drugs counselling, specifically because he felt he might lapse back into his old conduct. Mr Ogg added: "Like the anger-management course, that drink and drugs counselling was not in place at the time he was released." He said, as far as this lady was concerned, there was nothing at all in her conduct which could explain his attack. "In conversation with him, she was a person trying to be helpful. He said the violence was as if a light-switch had been turned on."

COMMENT - MICHAEL HOWIE
UNDER the Sexual Offences Act 2003, the police can apply for a prevention order against anyone already convicted of a violent sexual crime. The order prohibits the offender from doing any specified thing considered necessary to protect the public - such as having contact with women. In theory, such orders are a good idea. However, in the case of Colin Ross, who battered a visiting American teacher almost to death, they have grave limitations.

The police were granted such an order six days before Ross committed his crime. He had just been released early from prison for a similar attack on a German tourist. A psychiatric report warned that Ross "posed a serious danger to the public, particularly women".

Here we have a known serial offender allowed to repeat his crime. The justice system made do with the notion that a formal "order" would stop him. The order merely acted as a diversion deluding the authorities into thinking they were protecting the public. Sadly, that was not the case. Now a woman lies still seriously ill in a hospital.

It is difficult to see in this case what meaningful restrictions could have been put in place that would have stopped an attack. Detention would have. A prevention order that fails to prevent is useless, and their continued use must be questioned.
[END ARTICLE]


Commentary by Jennifer:
Defence Counsel, Derek Ogg attempted to excuse Colin Ross's violent and brutal attack upon a woman walker, by telling the jury 'although she (the woman walker) didn't do anything to bring on such an attack' Ross himself knew he had anger management issues and had repeatedly asked for drinks and drugs counselling. In other words, it was (apparently) a combination of uncontrollable anger, drink and drugs which were responsible for Ms. Layman-Mendonca's violent and brutal attack. How unfortunate Ms. Layman-Mendonca herself could not be held partially responsible. After all, it is (apparently) nearly always women's behaviour which provokes men's violence. Men themselves are (apparently) never responsible for making the choice to commit acts of violence against women and other men. Colin Ross himself attempted to excuse his actions and accountability by claiming 'drugs changed his behaviour by turning him into a Jekyll and Hyde character.'

In reality, many men and women too abuse drink and drugs but they do not as a matter of course commit acts of violence upon another human being. Anger itself does not cause acts of violence, instead a deliberate choice is made to commit a violent act. The difference is men are perceived as being provoked whereas women are always held accountable for their actions or for provoking a man beyond reason.

The other culprit in this case was apparently the social support system, because it failed to provide him with anger management counselling and a drinks/drugs abuse course. Although Ross actually committed this crime because he is yet another woman-hater this became marginalised and coincidental to the 'real culprits': uncontrollable anger, drink, drugs and a system which failed to provide him with support. Ross (apparently) is rather to be pitied than held accountable for his actions. Once again, men are excused their violent woman-hating crimes.

Notice too, how the term 'people' is used in this reporting. 'People' conveniently invisibilises the gender of the perpetrator. Women however, are always referred to by their gender as in the case of Ms. Layman-Mendonca who was called a 'female victim'. Likewise when women are convicted of violent crimes, they are always demonised and called 'unnatural women' because they have deviated from what are still perceived as 'appropriate submissive feminine behaviour.'

The usage of the term 'people' when referring to men alone not women, serves two purposes. One it renders men's violence against women invisible and secondly, by referring to women as either 'female victim' or 'female perpetrator' sends a strong warning to women. Namely, women must always be careful to ensure their behaviour, actions etc. do not CAUSE men's violence against them and secondly, women offenders are deviants and unnatural. It is a clever and hidden form of social control over women as a group. This is used to keep women 'in line' and also renders 'natural' men's domination and control over women as a group.