Saturday, June 02, 2007

Polygraphs Of Rape Victim Blamers

In the comments of the post "She did this to herself" about the De Anza rape case,The Local Crank wrote:

There is really no excuse, given the facts of the case, for not presenting it to a grand jury. The only exception I can think of is if the Defendants’ lawyers were smart enough to have their clients polygraphed, they passed, and this information was then presented to the DA.
I wrote in response:

This may be effective for the defense, but it says nothing about effective justice. As this case shows and as the title of this [Pandagon] post highlights, at least one man present didn't view what was being done as rape. He and many others very likely could pass a polygraph test even when they witnessed or committed rape.

That twisting of sexual assault into something the victim did to herself is appallingly common. People talk about a victim provoking rape for a variety of reasons that excuse rape (short skirt, drinking alcohol, walking alone, etc.) and blame that victim while having not a single negative word for that person's rapist.

What would be interesting is if there were questions on the polygraphs which described a variety of situations where a sex crime has been committed, including the alleged actions in that case, and which asked the person taking the lie detector test, "In that scenario was a crime committed?"

I suspect the rapists would say no on their scenario and possibly other scenarios and they would be evaluated as giving a truthful answer.

A polygraph measures belief, not truth. (end of my Pandagon comment)

The Local Crank also wrote:

In fact, some DA’s offices routinely require the VICTIM to take a polygraph before proceeding on certain cases.
This statement seemed to be made to show that those DA's are helping see justice done in rape cases, but I think this "routine" move supports rape and can in fact lead to a false conclusion that a real rape victim has lied.

Too many people shrug this problem off as if it were nothing. But it isn't nothing and it sends the message that those asking for a routine polygraph have clearly aligned themselves with the alleged rapist in opposition to the alleged victim.

Think about the number of times when people refuse to call certain rape victims innocent victims. Think about all of the systematic blaming and shaming of victims and the refusal to believe that certain alleged rapists could possibly be guilty based simply on who they are. Routinely asking alleged rape victims to take a polygraph reinforces victim blaming and sends a message that law enforcement routinely doesn't believe rape victims.

Polygraphs have been shown to be a tool which can be misused to increase the number of false confessions -- and a false retraction is no different than a false confession. If a polygraph of the victim happens before a thorough investigation of all of the available evidence, that's a recipe for injustice against those who have already endured one or more assaults.

Frankly, if something like this is to be acceptable as routine, it must be routine in all types of crimes. That polygraphs of alleged victims isn't routine across the board shows a real bigotry against rape victims and a willingness to scare rape victims away from cooperating with police.

Yet the rape victim gets blamed when the relationship between the victim and law enforcement breaks down.

If those asking for a polygraph succeed at scaring victims into not cooperating or the polygraph is misused to falsely label a real victim as a false accuser then those people who claim to be working to see justice done are in fact working against justice when it comes to rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:34 AM   1 comments links to this post


At June 03, 2007 12:01 AM, Blogger Seeing Eye Chick said...

F*cking amazing! There are days when I learn something new and it does nothing to edify me at all.

So I suppose that it never occured to the D.A. that it would be extremely hard to create a baseline in a polygraph with a traumatized victim of a violent crime?

Oooh there I go thinking again.

Or that the self blame that routinely shows up, that is well documented by mental health professionals specializing in rape, could create a false positive for lying? Or lack of clear memory or being the victim of Date Rape Drugs? Oh no that wouldnt confuse things at all {NOTE sarcasm}

But you know that is awfully convenient for a D.A. Because Rape is such a sticky accusation. Especially when it involves people who are more important or who carry more clout than their victim[s].

You know this is right up there with the 1960s laws that required an independent corroborating witness.

I suppose the only reason that they dont make a murder victim take a polygraph is due to the damndable lack of a pulse? If only proving that you were raped could be as easy as proving that one is dead. The irony.

The complete failure of these so-called officers of the court to recognize the host of psychological issues raised when one is the victim of violent crime, especially rape, tells me how entrenched certain dystopic patriarchal notions are in our Justice System, and how far we still need to push the envelope at this late date of 2007.

If rape victims adopted the kind of half-assed logic I see in this practice, then the only way to ensure that a person could address this issue of rape with something that resembles logic, reason or even the barest hint of compassion would be if they too underwent an assault.

So could we just forego that ugliness and just hope and pray that these people find a miraculous cure for their Cranial-Rectalitis?

Who is the patron saint for having one's head up their ass anyway?


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