I will have more words about this tomorrow. Honestly, right now I am too enraged, too deeply saddened, and too shocked to say too much about it.
A 17-year-old girl went to police at the urging of her friends after she was allegedly gang-raped by three men, including her boyfriend. The men testified that the act was consensual. After reviewing all the information and statements, prosecutors decided they didn’t think they could prove a rape allegation, and so declined to prosecute the case.
Instead, they prosecuted the victim for filing a false police report. Yesterday, she was found guilty.
What's truly amazing to me -- and a friend of mine who brought this to my attention noted same, as did the blogger above -- is that anyone thinks they can quantify what trauma looks like. That's especially huge in a culture in which women are raped incessantly, the threat of rape is ever-present; in which so many women's sexual relationships are so often akin to rape or even include it (and likely this girl's did already, given), and so forth. So very, very women wear trauma every single day, all of their lives -- and learn not to show it outwardly -- that very few of us could easily identify rape victims -- even women who have just BEEN raped -- with much ease, if any.
And this judge has likely managed to traumatize this girl -- to rape her in another way entirely -- just as much if not more so than her three rapists already have.
Again: pretty spechless right now. More later. Discuss. Rant. Rave. Make a better world, folks.
[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 12-08-2005).]
It's always sad when an innocent person is blamed. Sometimes even those convicted of rape are innocent of any crime, and they just had girlfriends or family who wanted to wreck their lives. Sadly, it's impossible to have hardcore evidence of rape in any situation.
Posts: 23 | From: Alberta, Canada | Registered: Nov 2005
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This is sick. Sick. Sick. This is punishing a woman because it can't be proved (according to a bunch of prosecutors anyway) that she was telling the truth. It is punishing a woman because she does not conform to expectations. They might as well make it a crime to report a rape-- at least it would be more honest about how utterly misogynistic this system is, instead of hiding it under a veneer of a system of "justice".
It sounds to me like this woman was prosecuted for not being visibly shattered. I don't intend to make any comments on how she actually felt-- obviously I cannot know that-- but clearly, women are supposed to be visble emotional wrecks after any rape. The scary thing is that this seems to be a case of men being threatened when a woman doesn't appear to be shattered by an attack on her sexuality. (This is not to say that I think I know what she WAS feeling-- simply that according these people she didn't have the APPEARANCE of feeling a particular way).
In my opinion this is related to the way in which heterosexist patriarchal society constructs female sexuality as something that exists only in response to male sexuality, that male sexuality "owns" female sexuality in some sense. Although rape is about power rather than sex, it is still culturally designated as a sex act. Even though many (I hope most) men who operate under these implicit assumptions do not themselves rape women, rape is seen as a particular use (or misuse) of male sexuality, and therefore female sexuality should react in a particular way to any attack. If this reaction does not ensue, then this implies that *gasp* *shock* the woman, her feelings, and her sexuality are not the property of patriarchal society, but rather something which she owns, and that she has the agency to channel those feelings in a way that does not necessarily conform with their expectations (again, I stress I'm not trying to say anything about what her feelings ARE, or even that she did necessarily feel herself capable of asserting agency here-- simply that according to what society expected of her, her actions and reactions implied that she COULD assert this sort of agency).
Is any sort of action being taken on behalf of this woman? Any petitions, protests, appeals? This makes me want to do something (although being from another country, I'm not sure what I can do).
quote:Originally posted by Deunan Knute: It's always sad when an innocent person is blamed. Sometimes even those convicted of rape are innocent of any crime, and they just had girlfriends or family who wanted to wreck their lives. Sadly, it's impossible to have hardcore evidence of rape in any situation.
If you read the article, you will see that current estimates are that 1.6% of reported rapes are false. Even if all of these went to trial (which they likely would not), given the conviction rate in rape cases (it's very rare) that's very few false convictions.
There are far more people, especially women, falsely accused of lying about rape, than there are men falsely accused of doing it. While it certainly is sad if a person is convicted of any crime that they did not commit, the idea that women lying about rape are just as prevalent as men committing rape is fallacious and really harmful to women who already have to struggle to be believed.
Beppie, that was positively brilliant analysis and I completely agree with you.
(And excuse me for having a totally cheeseball moment in the middle of this, but you have no idea at moments like this how gifted I feel to have been around here to watch you so come into your own. It is seriously the coolest thing ever.)
And I was planning on sending a note to the lawyer I've been working with at the ACLU to see if he'd heard of the case, if they were on it, or knew if anyone else was.
And I wept over it last night too, DarkChild. I ranted on about it infuriated with my partner for a solid half hour.
Deunan, when a rape is reported immediately, it's actually very easy to have tangible evidence: semen traces, strong vaginal abrasions or anal fissures, etc. But so many women are so scared to report -- and cases likke this build even bigger obstacles to that -- that few do, and of the few who do, many do not go into the police right afer the assault. (And don't even get me started on what reporting can be like: likely a big part of the reason WHY so very few cases that get through that process even make it to the filing cabinet is that -- especially in some areas -- it is nothing close to a fun process. Why some women don't report is because they know full well it's entirely possible they're only going to be put through more trauma than they have already.) Many who do that do not even have their cases brought up.
And if you understood how very few actual rapists are convincted, you'd know it's precarious to make statements about convicts for rape who are innocent. I'd gather we'd take that 1.6% of reports and have to divide it by 20 or so to get that estimate....which pretty much equals exactly none.
Just a few more notes on the idea of the "innocent" convicted rapists in the world for anyone who somehow has that strange idea.
The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry shows a recidivism (repeated rape after conviction for one) rate in rapists of close to 50 percent in a 1998 study. Other studies show similar. Falsely accused twice? Not bloody likely.
The FBI reports that rape is the most under-reported crime in the U.S. with only 20-40 percent of rapes, tops, ever reported at all. Visualize, if you will then, how many rapists walk free without any fear of being caught. And only about 50% of those cases are ever arrested, and only 80% of those prosecuted. Figures tend to reflect that less than 10% of rapists will ever even spend a single day in jail. Use those figures to do the math, if you will, on exactly how many "innocent" rapists could possibly be imprisoned or even charged. (I'll help: about 15 of every 16 reported rapists walk.)
MOST sexual assaults (about 80% of them) are committed by an assailant known to the victim: a family member, boyfriend, spouse, friend or acquaintence. Moreover, these "vindictive" girlfriends? How do you recify that with the fact that one in six victims of rape is under the age of 12? Or with male victims of rape, right now at about 1 in every 33 men or so (whose assailiants, statistically, are almost always heterosexual)?
In August of 2002, RAINN reported that at least 180,000 rape kits (the physical evidence collected from reported rapes) were backlogged in the US, still never analyzed, meaning tens of thousands of reported rapists are walking free.
Your average rapist who is convicted in the US and does serve jail time only serves about 5 years, max. Take a look at some of the support group threads here to get an idea of how that compares with how many years most survivors spend healing, processing and recovering.
I apologize for stating a hypothetical possibility not bound by the statistics of the rape accounts in America and instead based on stories I have read on other message boards about rape convictions in other countries. I was wrong to assume that an innocent person convicted of rape could ever be possible in the United States of America.
I never meant to cause such a fuss. I should've done my research first.
Well, the statistics aren't much different in other countries, either.
In fact, one of the major tenets in the history of rape -- worldwide -- has ALWAYS been the blame the victm, and more pointedly, to blame the woman.
We've got a loooooong cultural history of sentiments like:
• She was dressed too sexy (even though we know the data doesn't bear out that makes a difference -- my 76-year-old great grandmother was raped then murdered, for instance. I assure you it wasn't because her legs were just that scrumptious).
• She had sex with others, so she sent the message sex with anyone was fine.
• She's a prostitute, so it's not really rape. She's my wife, so it's not really rape.
• She didn't actually SAY no out loud, so.
• We had sex once before, so that means she said yes to me until the end of time.
• But she only said no once, or my personal favorite, she said no, but she really meant yes.
• But he's a nice man... (as if men nice to others or in other aspects of their lives don't or can't rape, which we also know doesn't bear out).
• She shouldn't have been out alone (as if that makes the rape her fault, and not the rapists; as if that means we must be accepting or inviting rape by taking a walk).
And so forth.
Women have a LOT to lose, nearly worldwide, in even just saying to anyone they have been raped. For a lot of women around the globe, even if she isn't blamed, being raped will mean she is viewed as tainted, sullied goods. She may be unable to become married, and that's huge in areas where marriage is a woman's only chance at survival. Her family will likely still be ashamed of her. People will whisper about her in the streets. She will be interrogated many times, usually by men, no less -- and often plenty who do think women at fault for being raped -- when she is already traumatized. She will likely be harassed further, or even victmized again, by men or women who know the man who raped her. SHE will be seen as the bad guy (even by other women, often with the attitude that she should have just dealt with it in silence, without "telling," and often because those women have done just that). This is another area where, like above, one could go on for days, and I won't do that.
Point is, women making false reports is, for those reasons and many others, exeptionally rare, globally, and always has been. And the only really reliable place to look for this sort of info is in broadly compiled data and broadly compiled histories.
Hard as it is to deal with and accept, MOST rapists do NOT think they are to blame, at fault, or that they have done anything wrong. Most rapists will ALWAYS say they were falsely accused, and many men -- and plenty of women, too -- will defend a rapist they know to the end, either because they just do not want to believe the truth (as it is a tough pill to swallow, after all, rapists are friends, brothers, husbands, fathers, grandfathers to people), or because they earnestly believe that women cannot be raped -- especially women who don't meet a given social standard or moral code -- because they are truly thought to be sexually available to anyone at any time.
[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 12-09-2005).]
quote:The woman's attorney and advocates for rape victims say the prosecution sets a dangerous precedent and could discourage others from reporting sexual assaults.
This, I believe, is one of the more tragic aspects of this event. Rape victims are reluctant enough to report if they fear they won't be taken seriously let alone with the possibility of having it legally blow up in their faces. A mentality like this isn't just damaging. It's contagious. Sadly even some of us who find the "blame the victim" mindset completely absurd may not find themselves as immune to it once placed under the extreme pressures of a situation like this.
------------------ You catch more flies with manure than you do with honey.
[This message has been edited by lizenny (edited 12-09-2005).]
Cases like this no doubt make women already reluctant to report almost sure not to, and even those who normally would may then reconsider.
And a lack of reporting -- even given how few rapists end up prosecuted or serving time anyway -- not only means more survivors with less resolution and safety, but ALL of us with less safety, because it means more rapists on the streets, at parties and schools, in our homes.
This is... horrible! Not only was she "proven" guilty on charge of an opinion (that she "did not act traumatized" is a matter of perspective, but there was much more convincing evidence (that the boyfriended had sexually molested his child) to say that she was right! This justice system is horrid!
Posts: 8 | From: Minneapolis, MN, US | Registered: Dec 2005
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I would like to ask that judge how a person is supposed to act after a rape, just to see what he thinks. "Your Honour, what, pray tell, is the correct way to act traumatized after being raped? Can you explain it in words? Or perhaps show us?"
------------------ I am a 17 year old male practitioner of BDSMLNOPQRSTUV... LeVay Satanism composes approximately 60% of my religious beliefs. I agree with approximately 60% of LeVay Satanism. I am a sadist (60%) I am a masochist (40%) I am bisexual, or bipermissive. (75% heterosexual, 25% homosexual).
I've had an experience with this. I was 15 years old and my boyfriend at the time raped me. I was involved with CAS they found out about it and made me report it to the police. I filled out a report and everything, and because i remembered what happened and what was said. They told me that it sounded like a story, and if I ever reported rape again they would charge me. My ex boyfriend walked free, and was never charged let alone prosecuted. Posts: 38 | From: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2005
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But you know for the longest time I thought it was all my fault. I guess sometimes I still do. I'm just glad I got out when I did, some people arent so lucky.
It's sad when you can't even trust the police to protect you. I mean trying to charge me with Public Mischief doesn't seem right when he was the one that did a crime. They want you to report it, but when you do they treat you like a common criminal.
Not to marginalize the trauma that this young woman is going through, but it occurs to me that the greatest damage this will cause is a deterrent to reporting rapes. Rape is horribly under-reported already (the statistics I’ve seen are disputed, but the fact remains that few rapes are reported and that few of those are prosecuted successfully), and this story will only make future victims more reluctant to speak out.
How can we get more victims to speak out when there are already harsh social repercussions to accusing their attackers? Now that there are potential legal hurdles, it will be that much harder. Was I so hopelessly optimistic that I actually thought my country to be more enlightened than this?
I suppose it does nobody any good for me to bellyache further about the state of affairs once everyone knows what’s going on. Is there anything the public can do to help with the appeal?
Not entirely related to the story (which is a horrendous one, I might add . . . "She didn't look traumatized" . . . whoever handled that report should be fired immediately . . . really really disgusting), but I'm just wondering about this:
Hypothetically, say a man and a woman who have been dating for a while have sex one night. Let's say that the man asked the woman if she wanted to have sex, and she responded in the affirmative, and she made no indication before or during sex that she was not comfortable or okay with what was happening. However, say that despite all of this, she actually DIDN'T want to have sex, but gave no indication of that, even when asked. Is that still rape?
I know this situation is completely hypothetical and a simply a product of me thinking too much, and the likelihood of something like this happening is probably statistically very, very low, but I'd like to know. If there is no coercion or intimidation or anything of that sort and all verbal communication and physical communication indicates that sex IS wanted, yet afterwards, it is said otherwise, is that still rape?
I just read the entire article and all the posts on this. Tears were rolling down my face the entire time.
I must say I am cringing right now. I am stomping mad, furious even.
I agree with whoever it was that said this was just SICK, SICK, SICK! I am truly disgusted by this.
quote: The woman's attorney and advocates for rape victims say the prosecution sets a dangerous precedent and could discourage others from reporting sexual assaults.
Being a rape survivor, I take this very personally! I was afraid to report my rape, and with this article, I am almost glad I didn't!
Now that being said, How many rape survivors have read this article and decided not to file a report, and how many rape victims will read this and let this persuade them not to because it was CLEARLY their fault, or because they think the procecuters will consider them to have filed a false report.
quote: This is... horrible! Not only was she "proven" guilty on charge of an opinion (that she "did not act traumatized" is a matter of perspective, but there was much more convincing evidence (that the boyfriended had sexually molested his child) to say that she was right! This justice system is horrid!
I must say that I COMPLETELY agree!!!
quote: I would like to ask that judge how a person is supposed to act after a rape, just to see what he thinks. "Your Honour, what, pray tell, is the correct way to act traumatized after being raped? Can you explain it in words? Or perhaps show us?"
I also agree! I would like to add, though, Ikeren, that I would also like to be there punch the judge and anyone else who agreed not to convict the accused persons at the time they find the victim guilty for filing a false report.
Might I also say that the mother deserves a slap in the face as well! Shes your daughter for crying out loud!
I must say that this article makes me sick to my stomach. These are the people who are supposed to help protect us!
This leaves me upset, very angry, and scratching my head wondering "What in the hell is this world coming to?
[I have edited this post several times finding more things to rant and rave about! This is seriously disturbing! I mean, C'mon People! Get Real!]
[This message has been edited by oOo Lea oOo (edited 02-23-2006).]
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