Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

Trigger warning: child abuse, rape, sexual assault.

Today the former rock star Ian Watkins was sentenced to 29 years in prison for sexual offences against children, including the attempted rape of a 10 month old baby (news article here). He must serve a minimum of two thirds of his sentence before being considered for parole. His two co-defendants, mothers of children that Watkins abused, were sentenced to 14 years and 17 years. They cannot be named for legal reasons; to do so would be to identify their children who, as victims if sexual crimes, have their identities protected by law.

The public has understandably been filled with horror and anger towards Watkins. This is particularly evident on social media sites and discussion forums. But some take that anger a step further, a step too far. They exult that Watkins is likely to be attacked in prison, and gleefully hope that he will be raped. This is not ok. In fact this is very far from ok.

Rape is never acceptable, no matter the circumstances.

When I worked as a forensic scientist I spent a lot of my time working in the digital forensics section, extracting data from electronic devices seized from suspects and/or victims in criminal cases. This data included images and videos and it was part of my job to examine and watch every media file that was extracted. This meant that I often had to watch videos of rapes, sexual assaults and child abuse. It was, to say the least, deeply unpleasant. I understand the disgust and almost indescribable revulsion that seeing such abuse evokes and it makes me angry as hell.

But you cannot on one hand say that rape is abhorrent, vile, a despicable act, and on the other hand wish it on someone else. “Rape is never ok – oh, unless it’s someone I don’t like who’s being raped. Then it’s fine”. It just doesn’t make sense. And in the same way that no law-abiding man, woman or child deserves to be raped, no alleged or convicted criminal does either.

No-one ever deserves to be raped.

When I was a student I occasionally moved in the same circles as Watkins, going to the same parties and clubs. I was one of the early fans of his band, Lostprophets and he always seemed to be a decent man, a normal man. But he clearly isn’t and today I feel the same fury, horror and disgust towards him as anyone else. I understand the urge to hurt him as he has hurt others but I don’t feel it.

These pro-rape sentiments contribute to the normalisation of what is a revolting act, designed to degrade, humiliate and control. After all, if it’s ok to rape a child-abuser is it ok to rape a murderer? A burglar? Someone who’s annoyed you? No. Rape is never an excusable act and there is never a justifiable reason for it.

So if you’re one of those who think that Watkins and his ilk deserve to be raped, stop and think for a moment. You may be part of the problem, not the solution.

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Comments on: "The Ian Watkins case – is rape ever ok?" (5)

  1. You are so right, rape is never ever okay nor justifiable.

  2. […] fired by the all forms of media and certainly in 2013 social media. I read an interesting blog by Delusions of Candour where the idea of retribution by proxy is discussed. In other words those on social media who would […]

  3. I agree with you, rape is never ok. Lots of people who have never seen justice for being abused as children put their emotions into the outcomes of these cases. But if you “allow” prison rape to go on for people like Ian watkins then you’re also allowing for instance teenagers sent to jail for nonviolent crimes like having some marijuana to be raped and traumatized for the rest of their lives as a result. Fellow prisoners and guards (whether male or female) should not be allowed to rape inmates, period. Celebrating prison rape certainly will offend people who have survived it, and prison is bad enough already without throwing illegal torture into the mix.

  4. I can quite understand why this case has produced such an emotional response but rape is wrong. I think we all know Watkins is going to have a horrendous time in prison but to revel in his physical abuse is not justifiable.

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