The Center for Women and Families unveiled a new clinic [in Louisville] Thursday designed to combine medical care, counseling and criminal investigation into one step for rape and sexual assault victims. “I hope police will bring people here,” said Leah, a rape victim who asked that her full name not be used. “You’ll have compassionate care.” For the past seven years, members of the medical, counseling and law enforcement communities have wanted a haven for victims so they can avoid the often chaotic experience of the emergency room. Now, instead of going to the hospital, where victims often have to wait in a public venue, they can go to the center and have the attention of nurses who have been specially trained in dealing with sexual assault victims. The nurses have special training in how to collect the necessary forensic evidence and can take the time to work slowly with a patient if needed.I'm thrilled to see this new clinic which addresses the various needs of rape victims. Programs like this do more than help their clients, they send a message to the entire community about appropriate ways to respond to rape victims.
That message may trickle down to someone deciding that sexual exploitation isn't a harmless activity or something that is no more serious that swiping a friend's French fries.
It's a sad fact that some will see this new center as a way to reward those who wrap themselves in "victimhood" and as an attack on men. But it is only an attack on men as a group if sexual exploitation is so tightly enmeshed with being a man that the two can't be separated.
I don't believe that's the case.
If a man rapes, he doesn't do so because he is a man. However, he may do so because of what he believes about being a man and what he believes about his potential victims.
Respectful treatment of rape victims should be important to all those who don't condone rape (or blame the victim) since it reduces the chances that a rape victim will feel revictimized if they report their rapes. It should also be important because the way rape victims are treated sends a message to rapists and potential rapists.
If we dismiss the harm done to rape victims, why should we expect a better attitude from those who feel entitled to take what they want.
Technorati tags: rape crime politics sexual violence sexual assault feminism