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Curfew waived so perpetrator of sexual assault can attend Glastonbury

03 May 2016

With a powerful online presence, feminists have been encouraging a candid and open discourse surrounding gender inequality and dispelling the many misconceptions people have surrounding what feminism means. There have been many instances where people have conflated misandry with the values of feminism. As a result of misunderstanding feminism, people face backlash over promoting the movement, which is simply working towards gaining social, economic and legal equality for the sexes.  Women still face maltreatment at the hands of the law and society in general.

The gender pay gap has been well documented as has the lack of women in top positions in the work place. The figures don’t lie. However, we enter a more obscure territory with regards to social misogyny. Accusations of sexism and gender based assault in public environments often become a game of “he said, she said”. The rhetoric of mistrust and insincerity in response to a woman’s claim of sexual assault must be abolished.

A recent case shocked me into writing this, and it has not yet been reported by mainstream or televised news stations. It has made the rounds online but more needs to be done to address the issues raised, rather than simply having it as a thumbnail on the side of a webpage. The case I am referring to is that of Harry Webb and his unnamed victim. Webb sexually assaulted a woman who slept at his home after an evening out. He has claimed to have been intoxicated at the time but pleaded guilty and is to be put on the sex offender’s register. His intoxication seems to have been mentioned in an attempt to justify his actions. He was not however jailed, instead he was handed a suspended sentence and a curfew. The 8pm-6am curfew is surely to teach and punish Webb, who has ruined someone’s life both physically and psychologically. Sexual assault is a life sentence for the victim. However, the already light decision was then further lessened when the judge lifted the curfew so that Webb could attend Glastonbury. He had booked it three months prior to the attack and labelled it as a “family outing”, which he did not want to miss.

The festival was clearly something of importance to him, which is why that would have been the very thing to withhold from him. How else does a punishment work? How else will someone learn and understand wrongdoings if not through retributions and sanctions?  In my opinion, the best outcome would have been a prison sentence, and since this was not already enforced, the sentence given should be upheld. The perpetrator is now aware that he can bend the law, and convince a judge to be lenient with his case.  He will never understand or empathise with the plight of victims of sexual assault, and he will never regret his horrific actions to the extent he should. Glastonbury is a place for fun, socialising and alcohol; three things that this man should be kept away from. The lack of regard for the victim is nothing short of shocking, from both Webb and Judge Peter Blair.

Judge Blair also invited the victim to enquire about his decision, to which he will respond with a letter detailing his decision.  Therefore not only was his sentence laughable, he will only explain himself if and when the victim contacts him. He cannot even extend the courtesy to explain himself now, rather the victim must contact him as if complaining about a faulty item she’s bought. Whilst also dealing with the aftermath of being assaulted, the responsibility is on her to go through a process of enquiry.  This is a process that will cost her time and more importantly, will be mentally exhausting and will add to what she has already endured; damaging her efforts to move on from the assault.

The article was only on the MSN Homepage, and Swindon24. Only three pages, two of which are mostly known for entertainment gossip and the latter being a local news outlet used by people within that area. The Daily Mail added a paragraph which seemed to be advertising Webb’s band: “Webb is a part-time musician who plays guitar in Swindon-based acoustic band Who Cares? The band, comprising of Webb and two friends, describe their sound as ‘young, fresh and acoustic’, producing ‘chilled originals with emotional content and beautiful guitar/percussion’. Playing at local events in the Wiltshire area, they incorporate their own songs with covers of songs by rock bands such as Deaf Havana, You Me At Six, A Day to Remember and The GooGoo Dolls”. A video of Webb playing has also been embedded into the article in an act of vile indifference. This bizarre addition to the article only works to compound the flippant attitude towards women and cases of sexual assault.

I am sad for the unnamed victim and for society whom has people like Webb wandering the streets, able to enjoy everything on offer, such as festivals.  Meanwhile, his victim and countless other sexual assault survivors must cope with their mental and physical scars, knowing that the law is not on their side. No one should be exempt from facing the consequences of their appalling and irreversible actions – actions that will stay with their victims forever.

In the very same section of the webpage where I found the story on Webb was a report on a woman who was jailed for fraudulently using someone else’s details for a speeding fine. It seems that when there is monetary gain for authorities, no matter how trivial the crime, the perpetrator faces tough repercussions. Yet, the same importance is not placed on the welfare of people, and women in particular suffer as a consequence. A sexual attacker is going to be living it up with his friends and family at Glastonbury, where he will learn nothing other than he is a man who is above the law.