Skip to main content

Why Scouting for girls is like criminal law

I'm watching BBC Breakfast and they have a piece about the fact that more girls than boys have joined the Scouts this year for the first time ever.

It's good news for the Scouts that they remain so popular, but it got me thinking about the funny way that sexual equality works.

When I was a boy the Scouts were exclusively for boys - the handbook may even have still been called "Scouting for Boys".  While I was still a member the UK leadership changed the rules to allow girls to join, but left the choice of whether to admit girls to individual troops.  We had just one enquiry from a girl and the leader asked us to vote whether the troop should admit girls.  The vote was a unanimous no and as I remember the main reason was because we all just wanted somewhere we could all go that was just for us boys (I was about 10 at the time so maybe the reasoning wasn't quite so clearly defined as I recall).

Something that has always intrigued me is why there was a call for the Boy Scouts to admit girls but no similar call for the Girl Guides to admit boys.  I'm pretty sure that many people would say "well, boys wouldn't want to join the Guides", but that was exactly what we all thought about girls before they were allowed to join the Scouts!

This kind of positive discrimination can be seen in other aspects of our society.  For example, when I studied A-Level law our teacher asked the class to vote on sentences.  By a majority of about 20 to 3, the class voted to give a lower sentence to a woman than a man where both were convicted of the same crime.  Even now, my advice to female clients is that although in theory they should be sentenced on the same principals as their male counterparts, in reality the risk of their going to prison is far lower.

This isn't limited just to sentencing, it can also be seen in the way the prosecution present their cases to juries.  A few years ago I defended in a conspiracy to cultivate cannabis case where two husband and wife teams were said to have been running cannabis farms on an industrial scale.  It seemed to me that they were all in it together, but the prosecution went after the husbands so much that the wives defence barely had to say a word throughout the case.

In another example, three people were accused of money launder.  The woman was found with all the cash (approx. one million pounds cash) and all the banking records in her home.  She was also observed making deposits into bank accounts as part of the laundering activity.  She was caught out lying several times during interview about her activities, land ownership etc.  Her boyfriend and his nephew were just seen making deposits.  The prosecution placed her last on the indictment and went for the two men with gusto.  Both men were convicted but our client, the woman and brains behind the operation, was acquitted.

Is any of this right or wrong?  Is it just in my imagination?

Comments

  1. thats a fascinating angle that I haven't thought of before! thank you for giving me an interesting start to the weekend....

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think that women who transgress their stereotype, (for example, kill their children or spouse) tend to get heavier sentences than men who do the same thing (discussed by Helena Kennedy in "eve was framed"). But generally, yes, the idea that women are ruled by their men still remains - marriage service, anyone?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Anon,

    deadselkie, that is an interesting point and one that I don't personally know much about, but if Helena Kennedy says it's true then it must be. I think that the image of the weak woman that perhaps leads to women taking a back seat in criminal cases would also lead to much harsher sentenced in child killing cases just as you said. I can almost imagine what a sentencing judge would be thinking.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ched Evans

Before I begin, I will say that at around 4,500 words this is probably the longest blog I’ve ever posted but I think it’s all necessary to set the scene for this case and explain the background that has been largely ignored or airbrushed in the press. Despite its length, I have not attempted to include every little detail of either fact or law but have done my best to provide a balanced picture of the Ched Evans case, what happened and why the courts reached the decisions they did. There has been so much written about the Ched Evans case over the past weekend, much of it based on a very shaky grasp of the facts and law, that I decided I would read up about the case and weigh in (hopefully on a slightly firmer footing than most of the articles I’ve read so far).

Broadly speaking there seem to be three groups who have opinions on the case:
1.Sexual violence groups (including people describing themselves as “radical feminists”) who appear to take the view that the case is awful, the Court o…

How do the police decide whether to charge a suspect?

A question I’m often asked by clients (and in a roundabout way by people arriving at this blog using searches that ask the question in a variety of ways), is “how do the police decide whether to charge or take no further action (NFA)?”
What are the options?
Let’s have a quick think about what options are available to the police at the end of an investigation.
First, they can charge or report you for summons to attend court.  Charging means that you are given police bail and are required to attend court in person.  A summons is an order from the court for you to attend or for you to send a solicitor on your behalf.  In many cases where a person is summonsed, the court will allow you the option of entering a plea by post.
Second, you may be given a caution.  These can be a simple caution, which on the face of it is a warning not to be naughty in future, or it can be a conditional caution.  Conditions could include a requirement to pay for the cost of damage or compensation, etc.  Either…

Bid to prevent defendants knowing who accuses them of a crime

When I read The Trial by Kafka and Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell, I took them as warnings of how a bad justice system wrecks lives of those caught up in it. Sadly, some Members of Parliament and the House of Lords seem to view the books more as a guide to how they would like our Criminal Justice System to run. Today, I read of plans to hide the names of accusers and witnesses from defendants in a large number of cases. Victims of sexual offences, such as rape, have had the right to lifelong anonymity for many years now. This means that it is a criminal offence to publish information that will lead to a complainant being identified. A Bill currently being considered by Parliament would extend that anonymity to bar defendants and their lawyers knowing the name of the person accusing them. This would apply not only in sexual offences, as has been reported in the press, but also in violent offences.
The anonymity currently offered to victims of sexual offences is not total, the complainant…