Why Rape Is The Only Crime Where The Victim Is Often Inordinately Blamed?
Well, She Asked For It, Didn't She?
In an overwhelming majority of instances when people are victims of almost any type of crime from the seemingly mild to the most egregious, they often receive sympathy from the public, police, and the courts. They are told that they were not at fault for what occurred to them. They are told that it is the criminal who is at fault. In order words, such victims are not blamed e.g. for being mugged, robbed, and/or beaten up by an assailant.
However, women are often blamed either overtly and/or covertly when they are raped. Even though rape is not sex but a crime of brute power and dominance over the victim, it is still associated with the aspect of being sexual. According to the Women's Justice Center, an advocacy group, rape is the only crime which the victim is blamed. The Center reported that many people often disbelieve, blame, ignore, and often turn against the victim.
Many people often believe SUBCONSCIOUSLY that if a woman is raped, she probably initiated the situation in one way or another. They maintain that probably she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They further opined that she should not have acted nor dressed so provocatively. Somehow, the victim of rape is seldom considered blameless. Oftentimes, she just considered as much as fault as the rapist.
There are many people who inadvertently defend the actions of the rapists. They contend that en could not control their urges so women must be vary wary of how they appear and act around them. They assert that the rapist is only acting upon his "masculine nature". There are even some extremists who contend if a woman is raped, she is leading the perpetrator on. They further add that many rape victims are just at fault as and/or even more so than the rapists.
There are several categories of rape- rape by a stranger, acquaintance rape, date rape, and marital rape. In the eyes of many people, there is no such thing as acquaintance and/or date rape. They strongly assert that all acquaintance and date relations are consensual. They purport that if a woman is raped by an acquaintance and/or date, it is clearly HER fault because she should NOT have placed herself in such a situation. She is told that men "get more sexually stimulated than women" and "men are highly visual creatures". thereby placing an onus on her and not the perpetrator.
Still other people further contend that the acquaintance and/or date sex was consensual and maybe she cried rape because either she wanted to preserve her pristine image, did not want to get into trouble with her parents, and/or to get revenge because the relationship went awry. The woman is demonized while the male perpetrator is given more sympathy. Their philosophy regarding acquaintance and/or date rape is "oh things can happen and/or get so intense in relationships so why is SHE making such a big deal of this!"
Then there is the issue of marital rape. Even though marital rape is adamantly denied in many societies, it does exist. The definition is rape is nonconsensual sex on one person's part and in the context of this hub, its working definition is when a woman is forced into nonconsensual sex with a man. In other words, rape is rape period and any husband who forces his wife into nonconsensual sex is considered a rapist.
Many people are under the impression that there is not such thing as marital rape. They argue that a husband has an unmitigated right to have and/or demand sex from his wife whenever he wishes to do. This is the atavistic precept that a wife is subordinate to her husband and therefore under his ownership. The thinking is that if a wife does not want sex, it is the husband's prerogative to have sex even it is by force. According to this atavistic contention, "he is a man and all men have urges which must be satisfied" and "it is not his fault, it is just his nature."
It is so ironic that rape victims are often viewed as the instigator and perpetrator. She is often accused of leading the perpetrator on either overtly or subconsciously by her "demeanor" and "actions." It is the Adam and Eve mentality of this male engendered society where the woman is blamed for "tempting" the man and making him fallen. According to this consensus, men are sexually instinctual with urges that cannot be controlled and if a woman "dare to arouse" these instincts, SHE is at fault because the man does not know any better!
The rape victim is often subconsciously viewed as a tainted woman especially if the rape is an acquaintance and/or date rape. It is often contended that if she was "more virtuous", and "not loose", she would not have been raped in the first place. Even in rape where the perpetrator is unknown, the victim should not have been "in the wrong place" and/or " made herself vulnerable". The rape victim is usually in quite a damning situation.
Another study done by the Women's Justice Center confirm that until quite recently, the police rarely took reports concerning rape. The Center maintained that the police often believed that the rape victim was at fault, not the rapist per se. The Center further contended that rape is often treated more poorly as a crime in the criminal justice system.
According to MS. MAGAZINE, in 2008, a rape victim was fined $500.00 by a Lynnwood, Washington police department. The department contended that the woman's account of rape was inconsistent therefore it was deemed a prevarication. However, during a subsequent investigation on the serial rapist, it was discovered that he did commit the rape through snapshoots of the rapes which included the victim in question. The police department eventually reimbursed and apologized to the victim. The department is currently undergoing sexual assault training.
If and/or when the rape goes to trial, the rape victim is further demonized by the court system. An example of this miscarriage of justice for the rape victim is the movie, TOWN WITH PITY (1961). This movie, based upon a true story, detailed the gang rape of a 16 year old German girl by 4 U.S. servicemen. Her parents' and the town's reaction to the event was understandably indignant. Her parents, especially, her father wanted justice as did the U.S. military administration.
The rape victim was questioned and the evidence was pointed towards the 4 servicemen. A military lawyer to represent the servicemen was brought in. There was a trial and it was decided that if the servicemen was found guilty, there would be the death penalty. The lawyer believed that the death penalty was too severe a penalty. He contested the penalty, wanting to question the rape victim. During the trial, it seemed that if the rape victim was guilty instead of the perpetrators. The lawyer questioned the rape victim as to her sexual history and past making her somewhat complicitious in the rape.
Rape is the only crime where the victim is often guilty until proven innocent. If a rape victim proceeds with her case, she is often questioned regarding her sexual relationships and sexual history. If she had many relationships, she is often presumed guilty and presumed to be a "fallen" woman who "actually was not raped" but led the perpetrator on by her demeanor. The subconsciously thinking is that if the rape victim has sexual partners, then probably she was not raped and the sex was consensual. This explains why many rape victims are loath to pursue a trial regarding their rape cases.
As a result of the often negative reaction towards rape victims, many rape victims come to believe that maybe they are at fault for being raped. Many rape victims become withdrawn with their self-esteem plummeting. Still others often become more advertly sexual in reaction to their rape. They figure that since others believe that they are "wild and fallen women", they might as well be the part. Many more rape victims become quite immoblized and some commit suicide because they believe that they are personas non gratas.
Rape is a crime. It is not a crime of sex but is a crime of abusive power. Rape had demoralizing, devastating, and dehabilitating effects on the victim. Despite those effects, the rape victim is the one who is often demonized by family, friends, and by society in general. Rape, in essence, is a crime which the victim receives the least support. Rape victims should be nurtured and allowed to become whole again for they have endured the unendurable.
In conclusion, rape victims are often viewed to be at fault. According to some people, a woman is raped because she was acting in ways that provoked the rape. These same people contend that the rapist is only acting upon the woman's signals. Still others maintain that the woman should not have let herself be in a precarious situation, she should have known better.
Many people do not even consider acquaintance and/or date rape to be actually rape. They contend that the woman was in a sexual situation which probably has gone awry but the man is clearly not at fault or as they purport, sometimtes things just happen. When it comes to marital rape, many people discount this issue, further contending that there is no such thing as by "law", husbands have unmitigated prerogatorial sexual rights over their wives and the latter should always submit to the fomer's needs and urges.
Law enforcment, until recently, took quite a dim view of rape victims. Police staff often believed that rape victims were provoking the situation and seldom took rape reports. However, the police department is taking rape more seriously and are even instituting sexual assault training. Rape victims are often presumed guilty if they elected to pursue their case in court. However, rape victims are recently given more justice within the court system and their voices are being heard and respected. Rape is an egregious crime and the victim should never be blamed but be nurtured and helped to heal from her arduous ordeal.
The Demonization of Rape Victims
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© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams
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