Content note: This post discusses rape and the aftermath
I have written before about why I never reported my rape to the police, and reams about the trail of disgusting fuck-ups the police have displayed in handling of rape. I know that many feel the same way, unable to trust this violent, patriarchal institution to help healing and justice. Yet some do, or at least see going to the police is the best option available. And for some, the police really are helpful. For the rest of us, we look at the police and plot revolution, plot for a day when they are the best option for none as we deal with the entrenched societal problem with rape and let go of models of retributive justice, doing away with this coercive arm of the state.
Getting rid of the police and their role in dealing with the aftermath of rape requires a revolution. It doesn’t require what the state are doing: outsourcing rape support services to G4S. It is reported in the Birmingham Mail that the private security company will be managing sexual assault referral centres in Walsall and Birmingham, where their staff will be present in the centres doing medical assessments and providing advice. The regurgitated press release informs us that survivors will not even have to speak to the police first. Under privatisation, this coded little phrase usually means “because the police will send them there anyway”.
In the context of the state’s continued programme of cutting literally everything that makes life a little more tolerable, they are presenting us with a choice: get nothing for rape support, or have G4S. In a conversation on Twitter last night, I idly wondered which was worse, my own personal thoughts drifting towards it being G4S. A reply from @gherkinette helped put my finger on a lot of the problem: “allowing people to trust you and then fucking up is in my experience worse than no help at all. Others may disagree.”
Once, I told a friend I trusted about the awful things that had happened to me in greater detail than I have ever told anyone else. I was rewarded with a complete lack of sensitivity and unhelpfulness, a nagging sense of not being believed. I am no longer friends with that person, and it was not at all conducive to my own healing process, throwing me into a deep depression and rendering it nearly impossible for me to talk about any of this stuff with reference to my own personal experience. I sometimes beat myself up for putting my trust in that person, even though on a level I know that the fault was theirs and not mine.
So I can only imagine how fucking awful it must be for a survivor to make the decision to report, and be lumbered with G4S and their enormous scope for fucking up enormously. As a private company, they are far less accountable for errors than the police–who have proved, time and time again to avoid accountability at all costs. What we know of G4S is that it was they who were responsible for a cock-up of such magnitude that the Army had to be called in. That they are famous for running prisons and detention centres for immigrants, hardly a sector known for its sensitivity. That they undertake similar work in Israel and Palestine. And now, that the responsibility for sensitively helping survivors of sexual violence is being placed in their incapable hands, all for the sake of a political agenda.
They have ruined many lives already, and the doors have been thrown open for them to ruin more lives in new, different ways.
It is a repugnant state of affairs that this task is being entrusted to G4S. We need that revolution more than ever.