What is it going to take to stop blaming rape victims?
We didn’t blame Harry Manx when he had his guitar stolen at the airport. We didn’t blame Amanda Lindhout when she was kidnapped and held for ransom in Somalia. So why the HELL are we still blaming rape victims?
According to Statistics Canada, 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime and of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 are reported. That means of every 100 cases of sexual assault, 94 of the women’s abusers are not held accountable for their actions and have likely moved onto another victim.
If you’re wondering why so few cases are reported, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.
CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi was charged with four counts of sexual assault in 2014. In 2016, Ghomeshi was acquitted when the judge questioned the credibility of the victims, claiming it was “impossible to have sufficient faith in the reliability of these complainants.”
The victims of Ghomeshi’s sexual assault were referred to by the media as “manipulative” and “insincere”. I suppose they’re right; one should be expected to have complete, unflinching memory of every detail that took place during a gravely traumatic experience, am I right?
Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in prison after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at a frat party and ended up being released after serving just half of his sentence. The victim of Turner’s sexual assault said she “felt embarrassed for trying, for being led to believe [she] had any influence.”
Even with forensic evidence, unbiased witnesses, and police at the scene, the case was not considered a “slam dunk.” Turner’s sentence was shortened from 6 months to 3 months because the judge feared a longer sentence “would have a severe impact on [him].” Seriously?
Now, let’s take a moment to imagine that our mother was (God forbid) sexually assaulted. How likely is it that we would assume it was our mother’s fault for having been taken advantage of by another person? Not very. So then why are we so quick to assume that other victims of sexual assault were “asking for it” by being intoxicated, wearing provocative clothing, or not keeping their legs together? And why are sexual assault cases still being reported by the media plastered with headlines that are blatantly questioning a victim’s credibility?
Sexual assault is a traumatic experience, one in which the victim deserves support and compassion. We do not blame theft victims. We do not blame assault victims. We do not blame arson victims. We need to STOP blaming rape victims.