JEFFREY Epstein’s death by suicide came just days after court documents were released showing new allegations against him and some of his high-profile associates.

Before his death on Saturday night, Epstein was in jail awaiting trial for sex-trafficking charges. He was accused of abusing underage girls over many years, including paying them to perform sex acts.

Soon after the news of his death broke, there was feverish speculation about how Epstein – who was apparently on suicide watch in prison – was able to end his life. Conspiracy theories spread over social media as speculation grew about whether any of the high-profile figures named in the indictment could have had a hand in his demise.

In recent months Donald Trump has been at pains to distance himself from Epstein, who he had known for many years and socialised with. In 2002 he described Epstein as a fantastic guy and said of him "he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side’’.

Shortly after Epstein’s death was confirmed, the president took to Twitter to share a conspiracy theory with his 63 million followers that Bill Clinton was somehow implicated in his death.

It is not surprising that the conversation around Epstein and his alleged crimes has now been drowned out with speculation about his death. Since the allegations against him were made public, they have been reported with the fever and grotesque salaciousness of a summer blockbuster

Epstein’s vast wealth and private island, as well as the presidents and princes who he counted as friends, elevated the sex-trafficking charges against him to high-level tabloid titillation.

While the media salivated over the scandal, there was little analysis done on the commonality between Epstein’s crimes and other, less high-profile stories of male violence against women.

Had he been convicted of his alleged crimes, Jeffery Epstein would have spent the rest of his life in prison. It would have been a rare case of a powerful man being held to account for his actions.

But while Jeffery Epstein was an example of using power and influence for his sordid advantage, this story is not a new one.

While high-profile cases are sure to grab the headlines, the reality is that sexual offences are commonplace both at home and abroad. We often see these crimes framed as individual, unavoidable tragedies rather than what they truly are: the product of an unequal society.

The culture that breeds sexual violence begins with the normalisation of violence against women and victim blaming and ends with most women having her own story to tell.

When the MeToo movement swept across the globe and women shared their experiences of sexual assault and rape, they demanded to be heard. It was labelled as a defining moment that would herald a major culture shift. Many newspaper inches were dedicated to analysis of what that would mean for the relationships between men and women.

We heard that some men were apparently "frightened’’ to ask women on dates or be alone with their female co-workers. The word witch-hunt was bandied about with such frequency that it lost all meaning.

And in this moment, as the conversation now turns to an accused sexual predator who has evaded justice, we hear the echoes of a debate that’s been had so many times before.

Victims of sexual abuse will often say that the process of seeking justice is in some ways worse than the abuse itself. They feel like they are fighting an unwinnable battle at the most difficult time of their lives, as their right to be heard meets the hard reality of a society which is reluctant to believe women.

It is those pervasive attitudes to male violence that facilitate the powerful men and ordinary men – rich men and poor men – who abuse women and girls.

We should temper our surprise when celebrities and those with a cabal of influential friends get away with their mistreatment of women and girls, because it happens every day and in every community in Scotland and the rest of the world.

Don’t mistake the intense interest in Epstein’s alleged crimes and his death for care for the women whose lives have been ruined by his actions. As the MeToo movement showed, headlines don’t necessarily provoke meaningful change.

When the full horror of Jimmy Savile’s crimes was brought out into the open, the question on everybody’s lips was: how did he get away with it for so long?

We need only look to ourselves and how we treat victims of sexual violence for the answer. Although much progress has been made by the police and the judiciary, myths about victims and perpetrators are still prevalent in society.

While Scotland is often praised for its so-called progressive values, the damaging attitudes towards sexual violence are just as deeply ingrained in our country as they are in others. This has an impact both on the willingness of victims to come forward and their likelihood of getting justice for the crimes committed against them.

The conviction rate for rape in Scotland is only 39 per cent, the lowest for any type of crime. Just as worryingly, an alarming number of adults across the UK are unclear about what rape is.

In 2018 a major study by the End Violence Against Women Coalition showed that one-third of men think that if a woman has flirted on a date it doesn’t count as rape – even if she hasn’t consented. Twenty-one per cent of women think the same. A third of men also think that a woman can’t change her mind if sex has started. Nearly a quarter think that sex without consent in a long-term relationship is usually not rape.

We have seen rape myths filter into the public and media discourse of the Jeffrey Epstein case, with the underage girls who were allegedly abused referred to as teenage prostitutes and the misnomer of underage sex being deployed with chilling normalcy.

In the days to come we can expect more rolling news on the death of Epstein and discussion about what happens next – not least for the powerful men implicated in his crimes. As the media frenzy continues, so too will the epidemic of male violence against women. It is only by recognising it as such that we have a chance of tackling it.