Monday, February 28, 2011

The minister for police and upholding rape culture

From the Herald (via No Right Turn):

Police Minister Judith Collins said the actions of looters was akin to "people who rob the dead".*

She expected to see the judiciary throw the book at looters.

"I hope they go to jail for a long time - with a cellmate."

Judith Collins introduced widespread double-bunking; she championed it in the media. When people who had actually done research suggested that it would lead to more prison rape and violence, she shrugged those statements off.

And now she's telling us that, for her, abuse and violence between inmates is a feature of double-bunking, not a bug. She is not explicit, but we live in a culture where threats of rape in prison are common enough that she doesn't need to finish the thought by telling us that the cellmate is large and called Bubba. By signalling that she thinks looters should be subject to rape and violence from their cell mates, she has acknowledged that her policy of introducing cellmates is responsible for increased rape and violence.


One of the most fundamental ideas of rape culture is that sometimes consent doesn't matter. And if you suggest that, about anyone, ever, then you are legitimising it as an area of contention and debate,

So when the Police Minister implies that looters should be raped, the ideas she's promoting about prison are appalling, but they don't just affect prisoners. What she says is part of the same culture that tells us not to drink, to go out at night, to dress that way. It's the same culture that says if we're in a relationship with him, or drunk, or flirted, or were in a war zone, or were asleep, or had sex with other people then our consent doesn't matter. It's the same culture that has been reinforced in every rape case I've ever written about. When someone ignores our consent and violates, it's that same culture which will find a reason, any reason, that we caused it and deserved it.

We can't dismiss comments about prison rape as somehow being different from other comments about rape. Like prison, prison rape is part of society, not removed from it.

* Just as a note - I haven't written anything about the earthquake. I try not to write on my blog without a reason - either because I've got something to say, or because there's something that I think should be heard, otherwise I try to stay silent. My silence should not be read as indifference.

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