Res Nullius

by

Yet again, as I skirt those strange little rivers with the iridescent scum and the unmistakeable smell that run through most slum areas in the wet season, as I sit with another group of women for whom abuse is as much a part of their day as is hunger, despair and worry for their children, I feel the rage bubbling up like a serious case of acid indigestion.

Some idiot Welsh twat – 19 or 20 depending on which rag’s clichés you read – went out, got absolutely shit-faced, went to a hotel room with some footballers and shagged. Only she says she can’t remember it. And they end up in court charged with rape and now one of them is in jail for five years. No violence, no suggestion that anyone poured intoxicating substances down her poor unwilling throat. If she had got that drunk and hit someone, then her drunkenness would not be a defence. If she had driven a car and crashed it she would have been committing a crime. But she didn’t. She lay down and got shagged. And suddenly she is the innocent victim. She was too drunk. She doesn’t remember. She couldn’t have consented. If he claimed the same thing … no, can’t see it would establish his ‘innocence’.

I studied law. In Glasgow. Scots Law is based on Principles – like justice, fairness… It comes from the fine heritage of Roman Law. In that law there is something called a Res Nullius. It is something which has been abandoned. Deliberately or negligently abandoned. It belongs to no one. Because its erstwhile owner has – deliberately or negligently – abandoned it. It cannot be ‘stolen’. Because it has been abandoned. It cannot be ‘criminally damaged’. Because its owner has given it up. It cannot be raped.

OK, I have had some pretty indiscriminating sex with some pretty indiscriminating people. There is not much fun to be had from shagging a girl who is off her face on something plentiful and probably vodka based. But surely it does not amount to one of the worst crimes on the statute book ?
The women I work with have plenty to complain about. But they don’t. And no one speaks for them. Maybe some of those who shout so loudly about the rights of stupid girls, well over the age of consent, to incapacitate themselves, make their way into what is blindingly obviously a sexual situation and then be treated like a priceless Dresden china doll should consider that they are not the ones in need of help, rights-wise.

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