How the Steubenville case exposes the cruelty faced by rape survivors, I Was Wounded; My Honor Wasn’t

January 10, 2013 Comments Off on How the Steubenville case exposes the cruelty faced by rape survivors, I Was Wounded; My Honor Wasn’t

How the Steubenville case exposes the cruelty faced by rape survivors

A sexual assault occurs every two minutes in the US, but here is a rare spotlight on how the justice system handles rape charges Tuesday 8 January 2013 Megan Carpentier

….The fact is that, if the way sexual assaults are investigated and prosecuted – as in Steubenville, Ohio – represents the justice that society wants for victims and survivors of sexual assault, there’s little question why 54% of sexual assaults in America go unreported to the police.

It’s because, of the 46% of assaults that are reported, only about 25% of those lead to an arrest. One quarter of those arrested will never be prosecuted. Only about half of those prosecuted will receive a felony conviction. And only about half of those who receive a felony conviction will serve even one day in jail.

And all that despite the fact that every two minutes, on average, another person in America is sexually assaulted.

Occasionally, outcries against the justice system, like the one going on in Steubenville, gives survivors an indication that the poor quality of justice we receive for the assaults committed against us isn’t exactly the justice the rest of society wants for itself. But in the 149 days since the Steubenville survivor was assaulted, statistics indicate that nearly another 85,000 sexual assaults have been committed in the United States. And for these, there are no protests, no Anonymous group turning up videos or digging into the backgrounds of the police and prosecutors, no spotlight on anything but, in all likelihood, the background and personality of the victim.

When one is sexually assaulted – assuming the police investigate at all and the prosecutors intend to do any sort of prosecution – they don’t just look into the background of the perpetrator or his (or her) actions during the assault. Police and prosecutors examine the background of the victim, which, under the American system, means that anything that could prove “exculpatory” for the defense must be turned over to them (such as, occasionally, one’s own sexual history)….
http://m.guardiannews.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/08/steubenville-rape-case-cruelty-survivors

Op-Ed Contributor
I Was Wounded; My Honor Wasn’t

By SOHAILA ABDULALI
January 7, 2013

THIRTY-TWO years ago, when I was 17 and living in Bombay, I was gang raped and nearly killed. Three years later, outraged at the silence and misconceptions around rape, I wrote a fiery essay under my own name describing my experience for an Indian women’s magazine. It created a stir in the women’s movement — and in my family — and then it quietly disappeared. Then, last week, I looked at my e-mail and there it was. As part of the outpouring of public rage after a young woman’s rape and death in Delhi, somebody posted the article online and it went viral. Since then, I have received a deluge of messages from people expressing their support….

The law has to provide real penalties for rapists and protection for victims, but only families and communities can provide this empathy and support. How will a teenager participate in the prosecution of her rapist if her family isn’t behind her? How will a wife charge her assailant if her husband thinks the attack was more of an affront to him than a violation of her?

At 17, I thought the scariest thing that could happen in my life was being hurt and humiliated in such a painful way. At 49, I know I was wrong: the scariest thing is imagining my 11-year-old child being hurt and humiliated. Not because of my family’s honor, but because she trusts the world and it is infinitely painful to think of her losing that trust. When I look back, it is not the 17-year-old me I want to comfort, but my parents. They had the job of picking up the pieces.

This is where our work lies, with those of us who are raising the next generation. It lies in teaching our sons and daughters to become liberated, respectful adults who know that men who hurt women are making a choice, and will be punished….

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/opinion/after-being-raped-i-was-wounded-my-honor-wasnt.html

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