Monday, February 14, 2011

Rape victims are not "accusers"

I know this is kind of a downer on a day that is supposedly supposed to be filled with sumptuous food and lots of naughty time, but according to change.org "Rep. Bobby Franklin has introduced a bill that would change Georgia’s criminal code so that victims of rape, stalking, or domestic violence could only be referred to as "accusers" until the defendant has been convicted."
I Heart Consent - Walk Against Rape 2009 - SFWAR - 017, originally uploaded by Steve Rhodes.
Obviously this is complete and utter bullshit. I have no idea what Franklin is thinking, but why do congressmen keep coming out on the side of rapists? Way to pick a team there buster.

Change.org has started a petition that you can sign here. It'll only take a moment of your time and as the petition says so eloquently, "These crimes -- rape, stalking, domestic violence -- disproportionately victimize women. Holding the rights of the accused above the rights of victims in cases of violence against women is just wrong."

ETA: I just wanted to add that no one is saying all people accused of sexual assault/rape are guilty or that there are no women who truly are accusers and not victims.  Some one tried to pull this card and it really bothered me. Obviously there are instances where women falsely report being raped. The problem is when rape victims are singled out specifically and forced to be considered "accusers." Will all victims of crimes be considered accusers? This type of thinking is problematic, even if Franklin has good intentions, because it casts a suspicious light on rape victims who already have rape culture working against them. With only 6% of all rapists seeing the inside of a jail cell I don't really see where this need to make it even harder on rape victims is coming from. 

13 comments:

  1. My god, Franklin is a moron. I thought that this is what terms like 'allegedly' were for.

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  2. Really? REALLY? This mother fucker wants to pass a bill based on fucking semantics? Don't get me wrong, I know it's a lot more than semantics, but fucking REALLY?

    Why target rape, stalking and dv victims? Why them? Why not make ALL victims of ALL crimes be called accusers? WHY? Why the fuck would you single out THOSE victims? The victims of the most heinous crimes? REALLY? OMG this is fucking pisses me off.

    I'm seriously convinced that the government officials are being secretly exposed to stupid by al Qaeda. Isn't everything to blame on al Qaeda?

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  3. Sarah: That's a good point! wtf?

    April: Your comment is what I really wanted to say. lol

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  4. Have Valentine's Day to you as well.

    I just read my comment above and I think I've won the award for the most question marks in a comment. lol!

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  5. I honestly don't see why this is a big deal, either way. Most rapes are either not reported or not prosecuted, so the primary reason why most rapists go unpunished has nothing to do with the way it's framed in a court room or newspaper.

    Yeah, it's weird that another politician is arguing over rape wording, but I'm more shocked by the fact that this pettiness seems to be a priority for politicians who have hundreds of very real problems facing their citizens. Still, this isn't even close to as horrible as redefining date rape and others for the purpose of rationing healthcare funds for abortion.

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  6. Bret: I do not feel the fact that most rapes are not reported has anything to do with this situation at all. I agree that this bill is petty and they should be spending more time worrying about more pressing issues.

    The reason why this is horrible, is that you're taking the word "victim" away from women who truly are victims. By calling them accusers, in my opinion, makes it seem like they aren't telling the truth.

    I would be completely OK with this if this wording change was across the board with victims of all crimes, not just victims of rape, dv and stalking. But by only changing it for those particular victims, you're demeaning them and their accusations.

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  7. Well, the reason I brought up the unreported and unprosecuted nature of rape is because you pointed out that so few rapists end up in jail. I think doubling our efforts in getting victims to report rape and police to pursue charges is more important than squabbling over wording. They are making an accusation, and I don't think pointing that out plays into the hands of rapists. Especially from a jury selection standpoint, I do understand why this "makes sense," but again, there are like a billion things that I would do before getting around to bothering with something like this.

    I am curious why there is a sudden obsession among lawmakers regarding rape... and I wonder if perhaps they've been screwing over the American people in more ways than one.

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  8. I agree with you overall, but this isn't an either-or situation. (So one could "squabble" and try harder to get rape taken seriously.) The difference is I see attempts like this as adding to an overall atmosphere (rape culture) where our first response to any rape allegation is to assume the woman is lying. And that directly helps rapists. How could it not? (So it is not the bill in and of itself, but it's reinforcement of other stereotypes people already have about rape victims.)

    Is this bill the worst thing ever? Obviously not. But it's not good either, and as Sarahbear pointed out the word "allegedly" is already used. This is why I brought up the shocking statistic of how many rapists actually end up in jail. There is no need for this bill since there isn't some huge outpouring of sympathy and assumed victimization of rape victims. If anything the opposite is true, so again I don't see the need.

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  9. Oh and I would argue that the way rape cases are handled in court very much impacts the decision to report a crime.

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  10. "They are making an accusation, and I don't think pointing that out plays into the hands of rapists." But one has to wonder why only crimes that "disproportionately victimize women" are being targeted. That's the real issue here and a perfectly valid question. Personally, I think it needs a damn good answer. More than just "them poor jurors can't figure things out."

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  11. Oh and I would argue that the way rape cases are handled in court very much impacts the decision to report a crime.

    I agree.

    But one has to wonder why only crimes that "disproportionately victimize women" are being targeted.

    I suspect it's because this is already the case for most non-self-evident crimes. If someone claims someone stole something, the claimant is not introduced as "the victim." They're the plaintiff or some other equally legal and neutral title.

    I don't think maintaining courtroom neutrality is creating a rape culture.

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  12. I still disagree. "Alleged victim" would provide the same "neutrality" (which I would argue is actually impossible because of rape culture) without questioning the victim's motives like the word "accuser" does (even if it is not meant to). Also, I didn't say this bill creates "a rape culture." I said it reinforces negative stereotypes of rape culture. There is a difference.

    For the sake of not repeating myself I will only quote The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee:

    "Burglary victims are still victims. Assault victims are still victims. Fraud victims are still victims. But if you have the misfortune to suffer a rape, or if you are beaten by a domestic partner, or if you are stalked, Rep. Franklin doesn’t think you’ve been victimized. He says you’re an accuser until the courts have determined otherwise.

    To diminish a victim’s ordeal by branding him/her an accuser essentially questions whether the crime committed against the victim is a crime at all. Robbery, assault, and fraud are all real crimes with real victims, the Republican asserts with this bill."

    In the end I see your point, but I got to side with the more vulnerable party here. You don't have to agree with me obviously.

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  13. Oh and if all victims of crime had to be called "accusers" I would agree with you.

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