The Welsh Assembly member for Rhondda, Leanne Wood, has benefited from the proven benevolent sexism at South Wales Police, amounting to what an expert calls ‘female privilege.’
Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood became one of the many women in South Wales who benefit from police attention for Internet trolling just because they are women.
A freedom of information request by Crocels News has found up to 5 times as many men are arrested and charged for Internet trolling as women.
Leanne Wood’s victim, popular DJ Dave Begley, sent a spur of the moment tweet to Leanne Wood’s Twitter account, which she was not manning due to being on the television at the time. The tweet conveyed a non-credible threat that Begley wished Leanne Wood was “gang raped by immigrants,” when it was in the moment and not intended to be perceived as Mr Begley’s actual opinion.
Internet trolling and cyberstalking expert Councillor Jonathan Bishop, of Action on Digital Addiction and Cyberstalking, says he is not surprised by the situation. “My research has found that South Wales Police are up to five times more likely to take action where the person accused of trolling is a man and the accuser is woman,” he said. “This female privilege at the heart of South Wales Police is totally unacceptable as everyone should have equal access to justice regardless of their sex.
“The legal case of Calver v The Adjudication Panel for Wales found that politicians are expected to have a thicker skin and the case of DPP v Chambers found that someone has to feel apprehension to be a victim of trolling.
“Rape threats are common online and most are non-credible threats.”
“If the leader of Plaid Cymru feels apprehension from receiving a non-credible threat on Twitter, one should ask whether she is in the right job.
Councillor Bishop said that most trolling laws focus on the rights of the victim as opposed to the rights of the public in general, and he did not think police time should be focussed on public figures like Leanne Wood. “I might have had a different opinion on the prosecution of Mr Begley if the focus had not been on Leanne Wood’s feelings, but if he had been prosecuted under the Public Order Act for making threatening statements that could offend members of the public,” he said. “We should question why the police are spending time on rape threats rather than focusing on actual victims of rape of all sexes who all too often are blamed, disbelieved or otherwise fobbed off by the police for what is usually a planned attack against them.”
District Judge Neil Thomas of Swansea Magistrates Court sentenced Dave Begley to 12 weeks in prison. Leanne Wood remains the Welsh Assembly Member for Rhondda.
Jonathan Bishop’s research paper on South Wales Police, “The Thin-Blue Web: Police Crime Records of Internet Trolling Show Chivalrous Attitudes That Can Be Resolved through Transfer of Powers,” was published in the Handbook of Research on Cultural and Economic Impacts of the Information Society by IGI Global in 2015. His research paper on rape threats, ‘Cyber-stalking or just plain talking?: Linguistic properties of rape-threat messages reflect underlying compulsive behaviours” was published in the book Psychological and Social Issues Surrounding Internet and Gaming Addiction also by IGI Global in 2015.