Rape is rarely a violent crime and should be punishable by 200 hours of community service, Australian writer Germaine Greer has suggested, as she poured scorn on the idea that victims are left with post traumatic stress disorder.

The feminist said the system must be overhauled because few cases that hinge on consent end in a conviction.

She joked that the most suitable punishment would be for rapists to have an "R" tattooed on their hand or cheek.

Greer was the victim of a rape when she was in her late teens — a violent attack in which she was repeatedly beaten.

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But she told an audience at the Hay Festival in Britain: "Most rapes don't involve any injury whatsoever. We are told it's one of the most violent crimes in the world — bull****. Most rape is just lazy, just careless, just insensitive.

"Every time a man rolls over on his exhausted wife and insists on enjoying his conjugal right, he is raping her. It will never end up in a court of law."

She went on: "Instead of thinking of rape as a spectacularly violent crime — and some rapes are — think about it as non-consensual, that is, bad sex.

"Sex where there is no communication, no tenderness, no mention of love. We used to talk about lovemaking."

Greer claimed "the official position now is that 70 per cent of rape victims suffer PTSD and only 20 per cent of veterans".

She added: "At this point you think, what the hell are you saying? That something that leaves no sign, no injury, nothing, is more damaging to women than seeing your best friend blown up by an IED is to a veteran?"

She argued that we should stop "pathologising" rape and saying that it destroys women's lives.

"We haven't been destroyed, we've been bloody annoyed, is what we've been. I reckon 200 hours of community service will do — would do me. I suggested a long time ago that maybe a little tattoo would be a good thing. Maybe an 'R' on your hand. I'd prefer it on your cheek."


It was "mad" that rape sentences could be heavier than those for attempted murder, she said, adding that "rape isn't carried out by a specific group of criminals — a lot of it happens almost by accident".

But she explained: "In case you're wondering whether with my apparently flippant attitude I actually have any understanding of the gravity of the crime of rape, I was violently raped days before my 19th birthday. I was beaten half-unconscious.

"I was found wandering in the street very confused and rescued, thank God, because the people in the car were a man and a woman. If there had been four men in that car I don't think you would have heard of me again."

The issue of consent should be removed from prosecutions, Greer said, and some cases could be treated as grievous bodily harm — a crime that carries a lighter sentence and would therefore not prove so off-putting to juries.

"Where it's his word against hers and the penalty is seven years or something, juries won't convict," she said.

The #MeToo movement would have little effect, Greer suggested, and she believed Harvey Weinstein's accusers would be picked apart in court.

"Everybody thinks that the #MeToo generation is going to make such a big difference. It will be extraordinary if it makes any difference at all. Because they are still going to have to argue the issue of consent," she said.

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault.

Where to go for help or more information:

NZ Police
Help Auckland 24/7 helpline 09 623 1700
Rape Prevention Education
Wellington Help 24/7 crisisline 04 801 6655, push 0
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz