Written by By Adam Reynolds, CNN
A parliamentary debate on rape and sexual assault was adjourned to a large hall in central London Monday, but one of the biggest speakers wasn’t British politician.
Nor was he Belgian. In fact, his accent is not from Europe either. Rather, his accent is from the US: American-British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, most famous for playing Sherlock Holmes.
During the debate, called by Conservative MPs to “highlight the plight of British troops serving in international deployments,” Cumberbatch voiced his support for the UK’s continuing role in the NATO bombing campaign against the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq.
“We need to stand up for the British armed forces,” Cumberbatch said. “They are absolutely heroic and they are providing the kind of leadership that Britain needs in a volatile time, and whether you are a Conservative or you are a Liberal Democrat, I very much hope we can have that debate in both Houses again and again about how our country is going to help bring a sense of calm and security in that part of the world and … that will be the difference between facing the enemy and avoiding being slaughtered by one.”
But just as #PRAY4OSA broke out over the weekend as others criticized Scotland Yard for not arresting Cologne police in order to escape further attacks, #DRAPEWORLDASDIERUSSIANISSABS are taking to social media to slam the American actor.
While there has been no official word from either Cumberbatch or British officials, a handful of Conservative MPs gave speeches highlighting the plight of British servicemen and women accused of rape.
The debate comes as the US public, media and government is facing fierce scrutiny over its handling of the US Presidential election.
That scrutiny is also applied to the many crimes committed by diplomats and service personnel serving around the world.
In August, BuzzFeed published an article titled, “The Rape of an Innocent 19-Year-Old Girl on Set.”
Rape and sexual assault trials in the UK are held in chambers of a sheriff court, not a high court, but judges and witnesses sit alongside each other. These conditions, combined with immunity for service personnel, have left a number of rape trials abandoned.
In February, a petition calling for a change in the law to allow a rape complainant to give evidence by video link reached over 200,000 signatures.
Last month, 350 MPs, including a host of Conservatives, signed a parliamentary letter backing the #PREVENTRAPE campaign, which is calling for reforms to the judicial system.
According to campaigners the current system compromises the victim’s anonymity, and often prevents the accused from defending themselves.
Among those backing the campaign is Liberal Democrat Lord Carlile of Berriew, the closest thing that the UK has to a leading justice system reformer. He told CNN the American actor “is putting forward, really, a good argument that we should be talking about not banning rape trials in our courts — but rather about whether we should allow women to be cross-examined.”
In early August, over 100 female Labour Party MPs sent a letter to the female Conservative female MP, Nadine Dorries, calling for the MP to abandon her controversial remarks about the sex tape of Sky News presenter, Natalie Pinkham.
Those comments sparked an online backlash, and many of Dorries’ constituents have now urged the politician to quit parliament.
Not been written out
Among those opposing the Brexit camp are key Conservative MPs Philip Hollobone and Priti Patel, along with Labour MP Beth Rowley, who told CNN “given the nature of these trials … it would be nice to have him off our screens,” referring to Cumberbatch.
Colourful American actress Geena Davis wrote in a Telegraph opinion piece that Britain needs to step up its game on defense, in order to deal with the conflicts that are, indeed, unfolding all around the world.
“The evil that exists in the world is going to move at a pace that we cannot at all match — we are so close, that next year we will have someone with a bunker buster bomb against Kim Jong-un,” Davis writes.
But Cumberbatch’s powerful arguments against doing that, and in favor of continued Britain’s role in foreign conflicts, did not go unnoticed.
“Thank you for speaking up, but … any America, ‘Rape-Rape-Rape- …” David Sexton MP responded on Twitter.