View Full Version : Still blaming the victim

01-14-2013, 10:39 PM
When we do talk about rape on college campuses, we mostly talk about it as a reason why women shouldn’t party. During my freshman orientation in 2009, we watched a series of skits about the hazards of college life, and one depicted a woman telling a friend that she was assaulted, but there was no mention of campus judicial processes, Sexual Assault Services or Pittsburgh Action Against Rape and no information on how to file a police complaint, request a rape kit or even access emergency contraception. Failing as it did to teach students what to do if they or a friend were victimized, the skit only functioned as an ominous warning. “Don’t let this happen to you.” Victim-focused prevention initiatives are often billed as the “realistic” approach, an alternative to being all kumbaya and telling women that preventing rape isn’t their responsibility — the latter supposedly leading women to take chances. But overwhelmingly, these approaches don’t help. Because their message to students is “don’t get raped,” the message to those who do get raped is “you screwed up” — whether or not that is the intention. When we do talk to men about rape and consent — and to our credit, we do; Sexual Assault Services’ education programs are mandatory for fraternities and sororities, though perhaps those programs should be expanded to more of the student body — we often make the mistake of directing those efforts at preventing the mythical, would-be “accidental rapist (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/01/09/rape-is-not-an-accident/).” Despite the popular idea that perpetrator-targeted anti-rape efforts mostly work to enlighten men who just didn’t know that a woman who is passed-out drunk can’t give her consent to have sex, studies in criminal behavior suggest that most men instinctively know that — and the ones who are raping passed-out girls anyway have very much the same thought process as the attackers who jump out of the bushes.


I was browsing for news on the New Delhi gang rape and came across this article. It rings incredibly true - majority of the responsibility in awareness campaigns is placed on women to not get raped, (and I don't think I've ever even seen an awareness campaign directed at men, who can be victims as well); don't dress a certain way, don't act a certain way. If you are raped, you'd better not have dressed inappropriately, been drunk at a party, or have previously been promuscious, because obviously that makes you a slut that can't keep your knees shut. When you are raped, there are a million reasons not to report it and when you do have the strength to report it you rarely actually see a conviction. When a conviction does happen, it's disproportionate to the crime.

I'm not sure I have any ideas on solutions but clearly the way society views sexual assault and abuse needs to change.

01-14-2013, 10:56 PM
It is a very difficult problem. Under the US Constitution, the defendant has to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. When there are no witnesses, other than the victim (and often times they are not witnesses- i.e. drunk and passed out) it makes it hard for prosecutors to prove their case.

My prosecution experience was in the Army and much of it was sex crimes. All but one of my losses were sex crimes. For the most part we weren't talking about violent rapes. These were drunk solders taking advantage of drunk female soldiers. But with no witness, what do you have? I have convicted males of rape when their blood alcohol was higher than their female partners. Does that make sense?