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HomeLaura PerrinsLaura Perrins: Why The Times’s university ‘rape culture’ is fake news

Laura Perrins: Why The Times’s university ‘rape culture’ is fake news


The Times on Saturday went full fake news with this piece. The headline consisted of one word that was not in quote marks, and the rest of the headline quote was based on witnesses who were not willing to be named.

Durham’s ‘Conspiracy of silence over rape’, it screamed. This piece of journalism consisted of The Times – the paper of record, remember – dispatching some ‘journalists’ to Durham University and retuning with some anonymous quotes that do not stand up to even cursory scrutiny, and then throwing in a few statistics which also collapse upon even simplistic analysis.

Yes, these students are so trustworthy they are not even willing to have their names reported. Then the entire wretched piece was deemed worthy of an editorial calling for compulsory sex education of course!

First, a conspiracy means an agreement, and is this case The Times is alleging that people at Durham – students, administrators, professors, the entire bunch, we don’t know – have agreed to keep silent over what the editorial later calls a ‘rape culture.’

Now, a rape culture is where rape is occurring systematically and repeatedly and is tolerated and perhaps facilitated by those in authority to an extent that a substantial group of women are victims and a substantial number of the men are perpetrators who go unpunished. This is quite a serious allegation to make against Durham University.

On what evidence does the Times make such a serious allegation?

Quote: In the wake of the verdict, (a third trial which cleared a male student of rape) students interviewed by The Times claimed that a cocktail of privilege and alcohol has created a conspiracy of silence at the university, with assaults on female students hushed up to protect the alleged attackers’ reputations. The students, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the majority of alleged incidents had been fuelled by drinking.

It continues: “I know two girls who were raped while at university and one who was sexually assaulted while at a ball,” said one doctoral student, who also studied there at undergraduate level. “One of the girls who was raped said that her friends told her, ‘You can’t report it, it will ruin his life’.

So let’s break this apart. At Durham University, because students are privileged there is an agreement at the university that all should remain silent when women are assaulted ‘to protect the attackers’ reputation’.

This is a based on a quote from a student who was never assaulted herself but knows two girls who were. This student was willing to be quoted but only anonymously. She seems so afraid of conditions at Durham that she not only did she complete her undergraduate course there, but is completing a doctorate also.

The conspiracy of silence seems to be based on the fact that friends of one of the girls, who was allegedly raped, told her not to report it. To be clear, the quote of ‘You can’t report it’ comes not from the “anonymous source”, or the girl who was allegedly raped, but her friend. So third hand, I do believe at this stage.

This is another gem: One second-year student said that once a man had failed to show up to university, citing “family issues”. Yet the student said those who knew the man from home claimed that he was involved in an alleged incident, locking himself in the bedroom of a girl who “has a boyfriend and doesn’t want [the alleged incident] to come out”.

So we have a second-year student (student 1) who once knew of someone (bad man) who did not show up to university. But this student 1 is relying on ‘those who knew this bad man from home’ to say said bad man was involved in an incident. Got that?

This is hearsay upon hearsay upon utterly rubbish reporting. And the dog once ate my homework, or in this case the journalists’ crappy notes.

It goes on: In November, police figures showed that 463 sex attacks had been reported by female university students at 70 leading institutions in the past two years. Rape crisis groups say that the true number will have been far higher as many cases go unreported.

463 sex attacks? Gosh that sounds like a lot. But hang on, that is over 2 years, and at 70 leading universities. Even if we say there are an average of 20,000 students at these universities, and half that for the gender split that is 463 attacks per 700,000 female students. (You get comment of the day if one of readers puts that in percentage terms for me.)

In fact, ‘of the country’s most well regarded universities — Durham and Oxford — had the largest number of recorded rape and sex assault allegations, with 36 incidents at each.’

Oxford has 26,000 students in total in 2014/15 and Durham has 17,000. Even if we crudely divide it in 2 to take gender into account that is 36 incidents across a female population of 21,500. There have been 36 attacks on 21,500 female students. But I guess that is the conspiracy of silence for you!

Still, at those odds, I’m willing to take my chances.

This is the worst kind of gender slander against young male university students. No other group in society would put up with being called a bunch of rapists.

The piece ends with this nonsense: Despite the university’s efforts, some students remain unconvinced. One master’s student said that she was “touched up in my sleep” by a male friend. Petrified, she pretended not to be awake.

I guess we are not even to ask how these two students came to be in the same bed together – I assume there was a bed involved. Did he jump through her window or follow her home and force himself in the door, or did they both get drunk and go home together and go to bed together? Don’t ask that question people – just move along.

Anyway, we are all to accept that this master’s student – a young women who, if we are to believe the feminists, is part of a fierce fighting generation of women ready to rule the world – was too petrified to kick said ‘friend’ out of bed and tell him to f*ck off (sorry – editor). Instead she just lay there quivering. Give me a break.

No wonder the jury refused to convict in all three trials. It would be a scandal to convict on this kind of ‘evidence’ and it is scandal to even contemplate printing this junk journalism designed to trash the reputations of wealthy male students. Fake news indeed.

(Image: ADTeasdale)

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