A Must Read: Staying Silent About #Violence Against #Women Is Despicable

Photo Credit: Aleshyn_Andrei/Shutterstock.com
By Clancy Sigal/AlterNet
Some years ago I was in a Los Angeles bar when a guy began beating up on his girlfriend or wife, knocking her off her stool while they exchanged insults and fists.  I, Action Hero, intervened and pulled the guy off her.  Furious, she slammed me with her handbag and told me to mind my own effing business.  Both he and she chased me out of the bar onto the sunlit street.  Never again, I swore, do I play referee in a domestic dispute which in this case was assault.
Due to over-coverage, even somebody living on Mars knows each tiny graphic detail of a CCTV camera of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Rice slugging unconscious his then fiancé now wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator last February.  And we know all about tin-eared National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell’s blunders and lies in covering up what easily could have been a murder case.
And, most sadly, Janay’s blaming the media not Ray for their predicament.  “To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.”  Janay, who has a child with Ray to protect, must be under incredible pressure to unblame her husband and try to salvage their income.  We’ll probably never know her real feelings until and unless she divorces to tell her story unvarnished.
Granted, she has a point.  “No one knows the pain that the media and unwanted [opinions] from the public has cause my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing.”  Aside from voyeurism, what possible good comes from replaying over and over again her humiliation?  Oh yes, it contributes to that cliché, a “national conversation” about domestic violence.  In plainer words talking about how guys beat the shit out of women.
It’s amazing how easily the victim gets trod underfoot in the noise of powerful figures – including Obama and TV anchors – pointing the finger at Top People most like themselves.  Who cares if Roger Goodell keeps his $40 million a year job?
Until the Ray Rice incident I was following what appears on the surface to be an unrelated sexual atrocity.  It happens in one of my favorite pit stops, the old coal-and-steel town of Rotherham, south Yorkshire, England.  The town of 250,000 sits in the heart of what used to be the industrial north.  Think Youngstown, Ohio, with its ruined quarries, factories and mills.
Briefly, 1400 (and probably many more) girl children – some as young as 11 – were over a 17 year period until very recently gang raped, tortured, trafficked and had their lives permanently damaged by “multiple perpetrators” usually second-generation Pakistani origin taxi drivers, takeout delivery men and other mobile predators with easy access to mainly troubled white kids from chaotic families.
“One young person told us that ‘gang rape’ was a usual part of growing up in the area of Rotherham in which she lived,” said the blistering report by Prof. Alexis Jay, former chief inspector of social work in Scotland, who almost burst into tears delivering it.
As with the NFL, EVERYBODY IN CHARGE KNEW AND KEPT THEIR MOUTHS SHUT.
Officially commissioned reports of sexual exploitation were ignored or disbelieved.   Those charged with protecting the kids – social care agencies, the police from regional crime commissioner Shaun Wright down to foot constable, and almost all the local Labour politicians – enabled the rapists by, in Prof. Jay’s words, ‘sweeping it under the carpet’, ‘turning a blind eye’ and ‘keeping a lid on it’.
Why?  One reason is that, in an atmosphere of “multiculturalism”, the cops and social workers and elected poobahs didn’t want to “give oxygen” to the far right by drawing attention to the criminals’ ethnicity.  (Most rapists were from rural Kashimir.)
It took a 2010 court case and some prison sentences for anyone to sit up and take notice.  Not quite true, since it also was the years of hard, at first ignored and often mocked journalism by Rupert Murdoch’s UK London Times’ reporter Andrew Norfolk to finally expose the full story.
Britain has had lots of recent pedophilia scandals mainly implicating Top People (comic Jimmy Savile, children’s entertainer Rolf Harris, high ranking politicians and the so-called ‘BBC ring’).  But Rotherham is different because its crimes against children strike at the very heart not of the Establishment but the socialist-Labour ideal.  (The city has voted Labour since 1933.)
Men who hate women won’t go down without a fight.  (Poor choice of words.)  Roger Goodell like south Yorkshire’s police boss Shaun Wright refuse to resign because, after all, what did they do wrong?

Clancy Sigal is a novelist and screenwriter in Los Angeles. His latest book, “Hemingway Lives!” will be published this spring by OR Books. He can be reached at clancy@jsasoc.com.

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