Monday, April 23, 2007

Girls Deaths Ends The Investigation Into Their Rapes

This case highlights a major problem in law enforcement.

A 14-year-old girl's psychiatrist has told an inquest jury in Cardiff that she was raped exactly a month before she walked in front of a train. Ahmed Darwish said Kay Miller had suffered from anorexia and depression but these were not responsible. [...]

Her psychiatrist Ahmed Darwish said her condition had improved dramatically in the previous months but the rape, which had happened on her way home from school a month earlier, had "pulled the trigger" in her mind. Police discontinued the rape investigation after Miss Miller died. Social worker Janet Rees said of the rape allegation: "It was a very traumatic process. Perhaps that is something that tipped the balance."

Lately, when people talk about a rape case ruining someones life, it's the alleged rapist they are talking about. Because of the concern over "the trauma of being accused," the recommendation is frequently to make the system significantly more hostile to girls and women who report being raped. (And yes, that recommendation is usually gendered.)

But this case shows that the process of reporting can be traumatic enough to not only ruin a victim's life, but to contribute to the victim committing suicide. Yet those who are focused only on alleged rapists want to subject girls and women to even more trauma. Sure, they will give lip service to supporting all real rape victims, but girl's like this are merely collateral damage in those people's proposals for change.

With the rape investigation ending, it reinforces an existing incentive for rapists to pick fragile victims who may not be able to endure reporting or the criminal justice system. And it reinforces the success of defense attorneys who focus not on evidence but on character assassination of the victim. This fits with the opposition many people have to rape shield laws and to media outlets who don't use the alleged victim's name. Defense based on personal destruction rather than defense based on evidence or lack of evidence.

Often with these people a clue to their attitude is the persistent use of accuser rather than victim or alleged victim. And the defendant isn't an alleged rapist, he is the accused.

Then there is this case in Minnesota:

The man accused of raping a young girl when she was 8 years old won't stand trial because the girl was later scalded to death and can't testify against him, an Isanti County District Court judge has ruled.

We need to have a way to hold rapists accountable, while ensuring that defendants still get a fair trial, even when their victims die between the time of the rape and a trial.

In this particular Minnesota case the rape was allegedly reported to the girl's father -- who is now accused of causing her death -- so his testimony is non-credible for obvious reasons. That means it was more than her death which ended the investigation.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:45 AM   2 comments links to this post


At April 23, 2007 5:15 PM, Blogger UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

I agree. Whether the alleged victim is dead or not, the trial should still proceed. After all, if the alleged rapist is allowed to go free, he might end up raping some other girl, which would be truly tragic. Murder victims don't get to testify at their trials either, but alleged murderers are still prosecuted.

At April 23, 2007 6:02 PM, Blogger The Speaker said...

On my blog...Under the title: Pathetic Excuse for Justice System in SC... I thought you might find it interesting.


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