After the Mail on Sunday serialised the book it confected a row by approaching commenters to attack extracts from a chapter about sex crimes. The most important criticisms came from Jo Wood, a former magistrate and science researcher who runs Merseyside’s Rape & Sexual Abuse (RASA) Centre and was awarded an MBE for her work with rape victims. In 2011 she was named the
Cheshire Woman of the Year. Her denunciations were widely quoted a in the Sun, The Times and on the BBC and set off a chain of vitriolic comments in social media.
However, Jo Wood then read the book and (with her permission to quote her reaction) this is her considered response: ‘The book is an extensive study on crime and the causes of crime and has very few references to rape. The excerpts published in the Mail on Sunday have in the main been taken out of context and quoted accordingly. All those responses made by us and others have been made on the basis of “sound bite” quotes which when taken in context can actually read quite differently.’
She then goes through each of the phrases for which I was lambasted. For example:
• “Who is to blame for rape?” This is followed by “It is plainly objectionable to reproach a victim for her own misfortune, so why do so many women do it?”
• “Women who are flirtatious are at least partly responsible if they are raped, and a quarter feel the same way about rape victims who act provocatively.” This is a section quoting the facts discovered by Amnesty International and is not a personal opinion.
• The quote re: “we have come to acknowledge it is foolish to leave laptops on the back seats of cars...” Is followed by “No amount of incitement can ever excuse rape.” This particular section is actually making the case for rape to be looked at differently and thought about differently “it is inane to confuse explanation with justification.”
• The rape is rape section – gradations of rape – on reading the whole chapter it is apparent that the point is that victims themselves do not always see what happened to them as rape because rape is most commonly presented as strangers down dark alleys.
And so it goes on.
Jo Wood concludes:
‘Maybe they should think about who is fast becoming the victim here – and without even holding a trial. Having read the full version I am satisfied that there is no intention to criticise victims of rape and that the comments made, when read in context actually strengthen the arguments for sexual violence crimes to be treated with the empathy and respect that victims demand. I would seriously suggest anyone who still supports the furore that has broken out – takes time out to READ THE BOOK.’