I am going to use the word “alleged” quite a lot in this essay. There have been a number of cases, ranging from politicians to priests to ordinary people in which a person has been accused of alleged sexual impropriety. In all of these cases the alleged perpetrators have been named, and must try to defend themselves as best they can. It can be hard to defend yourself when allegations of misconduct are made but no charges have been brought. No matter; allegations against a person have the effect of naming and shaming them even though charges may never be brought.
The common feature in all of these cases is that the alleged victims are not named. They can hide behind a cloak of secrecy, designed to ensure that people are not put off by adverse publicity when making allegations of sexual misconduct.
There is no such rule for the people alleged to have committed these offences. They must put up with the shame of allegations for which there may be not a scintilla of proof. The newspapers and television programmes love to run these stories, with a liberal use of the word “alleged”. Nothing sells advertising more than a juicy sex scandal.
So for the poor unfortunate accused his life (and it usually is a he) is turned upside down even though the allegations may never be proved against him. For the accusers her life (and it usually is a she) is protected from the slings and arrows of allegations. It is important that crime is investigated and prosecuted. It is also important that allegations of crime, which ultimately prove groundless, do not ruin the lives of people.
If accusers are protected by anonymity, then perhaps we should consider protecting the accused, until the crime is proved in a court of law. That would be simple fairness.