Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Weak Responses to Rape Allegations Embolden Rapists

A story linked from Alas: Fourth Duke Rape Case Link Round-Up caught my attention.
Dorm officials met with Jeremy and Jamie [after rape allegations] and determined that Jeremy was responsible for sexual misconduct he was put on disciplinary probation and was moved to another co-ed dorm right next door. That's where Stacy says Jeremy [sexually] assaulted her just three weeks later.
This story exposes a deep flaw in the argument made by those who insist on blaming women who become victims of sexual assault for drinking or leading a man on or doing something tantalizing. This man, and others like him, only need opportunity before setting their sexual aggression free and committing sexual assault.

In other words, the drive to commit sexual assault is an internal one, and is not dependent on the sexual signals of potential victims. "Can I get away with it?" is a more important question than, "Does she want to have sex with me?"

In the first rape allegation brought against a particular man, the odds might be unknown on the so-called "She said, he said" arguments. But the odds shift toward she said as the number of she saids rise. I will go so far as to say that tepid responses to complaints of sexual assault embolden men who are rightly-accused to continue raping. They may have begun with a real fear of punishment, but the weak response reduces that fear until it's an ineffective deterrent.

A different approach by the university could have respected this man's rights while protecting the female students from further attack. And it's very simple.

If two credible accusations of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault are made against you, then you will be expelled. No excuses and no crying, "It was consensual."

If this system were in place on all college campuses, I believe the number of sexual assaults would drop dramatically.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:44 AM   0 comments links to this post


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