Tuesday, 4 December 2007

by Iain Lundy Glasgow Evening Times
THE growth in Glasgow's night-time economy and lap dancing culture were today blamed for the horrific toll of rapes and sex attacks on women.
Chief Inspector Brian Connel said a lack of a co-ordinated transport strategy when the pubs and clubs come out is making the city a more dangerous place and leaving women vulnerable to attack.
He also agreed with leading women's groups that lap dancing and television images were adding to the problem.
City's 2007 record of rape shameFEBRUARY A 15-year-old girl was raped in Ferguslie Park, Paisley. A 19-year-old man was arrested and has appeared at Paisley Sheriff Court.
APRIL An 18-year-old was raped while waiting for an early-morning bus to work in Cross Arthurlie Street at Barrhead, East Renfrewshire. A man grabbed her and dragged her into a lane. A 33-year-old man was arrested and has appeared at Paisley Sheriff Court.
Reader PollDoes lapdancing encourage sex attacks?
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JUNE A woman was raped in Glasgow city centre just yards from clubbers making their way home. The 30-year-old was grabbed from behind and dragged into a lane. She was sitting on a wall at the BP garage in Elmbank Street, between Bath Lane and Elmbank Crescent just moments after leaving a club on Sauchiehall Street. No-one has been arrested.
JULY A dreadlocked gang of four raped a woman in Glasgow's West End. The 30-year-old mum-of-one was attacked while walking her dog in Yorkhill. The four were described as being of AfroCaribbean appearance. The victim was pushed to the ground and held down by two attackers, while a third, who was more than 6ft tall with waist-length dreadlocks, carried out the first assault. The three other men then also raped her in the square, which is next to wine bars, art galleries and tenement flats. No arrests have been made.
AUGUST A teenage girl was dragged off a busy street and raped in a daylight attack. The 16-year-old was walking along Dowanfield Road, Cumbernauld, when a man dragged her into shrubbery near Our Lady's High School and raped her. A 27-year-old man was arrested.
AUGUST A woman reported being raped in Glasgow. The 38-year-old said she tried to flag down drivers as she was chased by her attacker but nobody stopped to help her and she was dragged into bushes near Glasgow Royal Infirmary. A man, 39, was arrested in connection with the crime.Mr Connel spoke out as new figures obtained by the Evening Times revealed there were 192 rapes reported to Strathclyde Police between January and the end of July this year - only one fewer than the same period last year.
Detection rates rose slightly with 128 solved compared with 124 last year.
The number of serious sex attacks dropped from 54 to 41 - but only 16 have been detected this year as opposed to 30 in 2006.
Mr Connel, Strathclyde Police's force crime prevention officer, called for more action to get people safely and quickly home after a night out - and pleaded with young people to be more responsible on safety issues.
He said: "It is easy for a young person to end up with a stranger on a night out, especially after too much alcohol.
"There are thousands upon thousands of people in the city centre at the weekend and the transport is just not sufficient to get them all out. It is getting better but a lot has to be done.
"I don't think the culture helps and people are quite prepared to be irresponsible. It is all about enjoyment without a thought about what the consequences are.
"We are not asking folk to regulate their lives to the nth degree - but think a bit ahead, have money on your phone, don't get lost, stay with your friends. It is really simple stuff.
"When people are under the influence their skills in dealing with these kind of things are decreased dramatically."
The statistics come after a string of rapes and sexual assaults on women in and around Glasgow in the last few weeks - including the terrifying gang-rape of a 30-year-old woman near Yorkhill Hospital.
Women's groups believe many more victims are unwilling or too afraid to tell the police and the true picture is more grim than statistics suggest.
Diane Travers, personal safety tutor with Glasgow-based Wise Women, said she was concerned about what she called the "lapdance culture" in Glasgow city centre.
She added: "Our current culture of lapdancing clubs is worrying, especially hearing so many young men talk about it.
"There is a connection between lapdancing - which is sexual exploitation of women - and rape.
"It is saying that women are there to be watched and used and that they are there for entertainment."
Ms Travers claimed the statistics were the tip of the iceberg because so many women who were raped by someone they knew did not report the attacks.
She said: "It is easier to report an attack by a stranger but they are less inclined to talk about a friend, partner, boyfriend or someone in their family.
"It is very chilling to realise rapists are people who appear like normal everyday guys that we talk to in the pub or at home."
Mr Connel agreed lapdance culture and many television images were adding to the problem.
He said: "It is all about exploitation and it is all about behaviour I would say is unacceptable but is creating the wrong type of role models."
Sandy Brindley, national co-ordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland, said the attitude of rape perpetrators had changed little over the years.
"There are prehistoric attitudes to rape and sexual assault in this city that we are having to challenge," she said.
"You wouldn't think it was 2007. Things should be much more enlightened but it feels like it is the same attitude since the 1970s when rape crisis centres had to be set up in the first place."

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