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Ched Evans: Should the rapist be stopped from ever playing again?

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A LIFE OF TWO HALVES: The future seems very different for Ched Evans, seen here (left) in Sheffield United colours having celebrated a goal, now that clubs no longer seem willing to sign

A LIFE OF TWO HALVES: The future seems very different for Ched Evans, seen here (left) in Sheffield United colours having celebrated a goal, now that clubs no longer seem willing to sign

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A LIFE OF TWO HALVES: The future seems very different for Ched Evans, seen here (left) in Sheffield United colours having celebrated a goal, now that clubs no longer seem willing to sign

Making an  example of the  disgraced striker will send out the right message, says Niamh Horan.

It might have remained merely one of the harrowing cases in which justice is dispensed and lives changed forever save for one factor: Evans isn't just a rapist, he is also a rather good footballer.

Indeed, in his last season for Sheffield United in League One he scored 35 goals in 42 appearances.

On his release, he both protested his innocence and sought to return to his life as a footballer.

His former club Sheffield United offered him a chance to train with them, a move which prompted several celebrities to stand down as club patrons, while Olympic champion Jessica Ennis Hill said she would want her name removed from the stand named after her at the club's Bramall Lane ground if he rejoined the club.

Following the controversy, the offer was withdrawn.

Later, Oldham Athletic was said to be on the verge of signing Evans, prompting tens of thousands to sign a petition against Evans joining the club and a threat from a sponsor to sever its involvement with Oldham Athletic.

In the event, Evans was not signed and since then club owner Simon Corney has spoken of his willingness to sell the club.

Earlier this month it was reported that Hibernians of Malta would sign Evans - a suggestion that prompted the island's prime minister to warn of possible damage to the country's reputation.

While Evans has vowed to clear his name, his victim reportedly has had to move home and change her identity to avoid internet trolls.

Should the rapist be stopped from ever playing again? YES 

When it comes to rape, despite all the campaigning, victims waiving their right to anonymity and talking about their experiences, excuses are still made.

To get justice, from the beginning, the victim has to defend herself. Questions on alcohol intake, dress (if a man is raped why don't we ever hear what he was wearing?), her relationship with the attacker and her willingness to go to a location are all taken into account so we can judge how 'serious' the rape was or if she had any part to play in her undoing.

It wouldn't happen in a murder case. And yet this isn't about taking a life. This is about ripping out a person's soul.

If a rape victim does secure justice she can consider herself one of the 'lucky' ones.

In Ireland in 2013, the Central Criminal Court dealt with 567 rape cases - of the 205 sent to trial, only 35 secured convictions while 155 defendants were acquitted. In 15 cases, the jury was unable to agree on a verdict.

Not exactly a beacon of hope for traumatised victims.

So with that in mind maybe it's time to go all-out on the convictions that have been won.

Maybe it's time we capitalised on these to deter future attacks. Maybe it's time we forced more men to face a future like that of Ched Evans.

Once a promising young footballer, he left prison after serving half of a five-year sentence for raping a woman.

His career now lies in tatters, his name is synonymous with the crime, he has been picked over by the public and stands humiliated and beaten down as a warning to all other men.

Young guys going out on the tear, ' Jack the lads' who've had a bit too much to drink, men who think they can just take advantage of a situation and get away with it - this is what you could face if you take a chance. Your life, by all accounts, will be over.

Making an example of men like Ched Evans will give us an antidote to the ambiguity of rape. A remedy to all that muddies the waters as to what happens when you take advantage of a woman.

An answer to its continuous glorification in Hollywood and in music.

Screw fantasy lads - reality is a lot different.

If a man is convicted, his life should be ruined. No second chances. He should become an unemployable, social pariah.

Before Evans, there was the boxer Mike Tyson.

During three hours of cross examination, we heard about his victim's menstrual cycle, her panty liner, her reasons for going to the room and the "excruciating pain" she endured. The boxer was eventually sent down for six years - only to serve three.

After serving the meagre sentence he went on to appear in a Hollywood blockbuster, run for public office, remarry and gross US$96m in his comeback fight, when he was hailed as a hero and cheered on by millions around the world.

What message does that send out?

Does he feel ashamed when someone mentions his past? Not really. He called an interviewer a "piece of shit" for daring to mention it.

Until rape victims can fully put their trust in the justice system, maybe it's time to forget about giving the likes of Mike Tyson and all other rapists second chances.

Because that is the only way we can move on.

Turn the weight of judgement away from the victims and back on to the men who commit the crime. And let it not end the day they finish their sentence.

NO: An utterly ludicrous and petty campaign

writes Ron Liddle

Ched Evans served the required amount of his sentence, and he should be allowed to do the job he chose and is qualified for, writes Rod Liddle

A new name to help us welcome in the new year: Jean Hatchet. A name which is almost certainly too good to be true for a perpetually infuriated radical feminist - much as, say, Roz Termagant or Betty Hitler would be. It is a pseudonym, apparently. Ms Hatchet - I assume that is the title she would prefer, although Mx is catching on quite quickly - is the woman behind the petitions to prevent the footballer and convicted rapist Ched Evans from earning a living from his trade.

The first petition was got up when Evans began training with his former club, Sheffield United - who quickly washed their hands of him as a consequence of the publicity. There was a sort of furore. The actual number of people who felt so angry that Evans should be allowed to work for a living at his chosen profession were very small indeed - Hatchet's latest petition contains just 30,000 signatures, a mere microdot in today's world of click-democracy.

But the issue had become politicised and the subtext now reads: if you are in favour of Ched Evans playing professional football again, then you are in favour of rape. To argue that he has served the required amount of his sentence is also to be in favour of rape, and in favour of rapists and in favour of sexual violence per se. And so this laughable, stupid and fatuous premise has terrified the politicians, who have now, of course, become involved. None of them dare suggest that one of the purposes of prison is to rehabilitate and that the best possible outcome for a former prisoner is that he should go straight into a job (rather than on to benefits).

One of the ironies is that the kind of people who sign these petitions are often more lenient on the issue of criminal justice - unless it is a crime to which they particularly object. Burglary, armed robbery, manslaughter, drug-dealing etc - they're OK. Crimes against women and any racist stuff - nope, no rehabilitation, you're scum and that's that. Oh, and homophobia.

Scum he may well be. Don't know the bloke. Once Sheffield United had ditched him, most other league clubs ran a mile. Hartlepool, rooted eight points adrift at the very bottom of the bottom division, showed a vague interest and then swiftly bailed. Then Oldham Athletic fancied taking him on - and they have form when it comes to the rehabilitation of offenders. Oldham employed another striker, Lee Hughes, when he had been released from prison for killing someone as a consequence of dangerous driving - there was, of course, no petition designed to prevent them. Nor have there been petitions against the multitude of other ex-offenders plying their trade in the football league. Just Ched Evans. As the columnist Melissa Kite put it in The Spectator, this is mob rule.

The arguments against Evans playing football again are so vacuous as to be beyond parody; it is a froth of fashionable PC outrage, and odious in its implications. First, it is alleged that in playing football, rather than being a plumber or a taxidermist, Evans is in a position of 'influence'. Really? Playing football for a third-rate team in front of 5,000 supporters? The objectors insist that he can carry on playing football - just not for a team anyone has heard of, which is sort of mad. They also say he can get a job - but not the one he wants to do and is qualified to do. Is it possible to be more utterly ludicrous and petty?

Next, they insist that he did not serve his full sentence and is therefore on licence, rather than properly at liberty. Well yes, but that applies to almost everyone released from prison. Are we to say that none of them should work? Or work only where Jean Hatchet and a bunch of moronic columnists decide is suitable? Where do you think he should clock in, Jean and friends? Why not drop him a line and explain what work you think is suitable for someone who has recently come out of prison. And then do the same thing to the other few hundred thousand people in a similar situation: you decide where they can work and how much they can earn.

Then there is the allegation that he has shown no remorse; he has not said sorry to his victim. I am not aware of this stipulation being raised in any other case. The reason he has not apologised is that he does not think that he is guilty, and his lawyers have lodged an appeal with the Criminal Cases Review Commission, so he would be ill-advised to say sorry. There are grave doubts about his conviction - but even if there were not, the point and the principle remain. He has served his sentence for a serious crime. In a civilised country you would expect people to be delighted that he was now about to be offered full-time, remunerative work.

One air-headed columnist suggested that even though he had served his sentence, the woman he raped would have to live with his crime her entire life and, therefore, so should he. Ergo, he should not be allowed to play professional football.

But what of the victims of muggers, killers, robbers, burglars? Do they not continue to suffer?

Should we stop all criminals working on account of the legacy of misery and trauma they have left behind? I can see a case for saying 'Yes we should!' I don't agree with it, but I can see the case.

But I can't see the case for saying: no, only Ched Evans. Just him. The truth is that his case is the perfect example of the moronic inferno, the howl round of witlessness and politically motivated confected outrage.

This article first appeared in the print edition of 'The Spectator' magazine

Sunday Independent