Sunday, August 17, 2008

Demonizing Drinking Women So Their Rapists Are More Sympathetic

This is a follow up to my posts UK Rape Victims Compensation Reduced If They Drank Before Being Raped and Does A Man Have Any Responsibility For His Words Or Actions? on the relationship between alcohol, rape and justice.

From Guardian: Sex assaults: Police accused of adopting 'Life on Mars' attitude: Former CID chief says some forces refuse to treat attack allegations as crimes for fear that unsuccessful prosecutions will spoil their clear-up statistics:

Marion Smullen, head of chambers at One Inner Temple Lane, who frequently acts as defence counsel in rape cases, said: "However much politicians want to change the attitudes to rape, juries are still fairly judgmental where alcohol is concerned. It's certainly something that helps me as defence counsel."

A typical defence would be to argue that the woman consented to sex because she was drunk and then cried rape when she regretted it in the morning, she said.

"Women drinking is still regarded as not quite right by a lot of juries. If they think maybe the woman has contributed in some way by being drunk, they will be reluctant to send someone to prison." [...]

Victims who had been drunk were seized on by defence counsel as "manna from heaven", [Dave ] Gee [the former head of Derbyshire CID] said.

This reality is why those who demand responsibility from rape victims are not credible even when they provide a disclaimer that of course they want all those who really did rape women who had been drinking to be treated as real rapists and of course they are only speaking out because they care about protecting women from rape.

These upstanding people might as well tell rapists, "Hey, buddy," points toward woman with drink in her hand, "You can rape her and I'll have your back if she reports you." Their bigotry is the biggest contributor to the confidence rapists feel when they target women who have been drinking.

Some of these rapists acknowledge that they are rapists and simply enjoy the power of being able to commit their crimes boldly. Others use talk of women's responsibility to tell themselves that they aren't real rapists since they would never attack a sober woman.

If you think being sober is a protection from rapists who target the drunk, think again. Sometimes rapists rape women who are mistaken for drunk.

This assumption by 3 teens (Ashley Mitchell, 19, Curtis Clinton, 16, and Kersley McDermott, 18) that their actions would have been acceptable -- or at least plausibly deniable -- if their 32-year-old victim had been drunk and not suffering from multiple sclerosis is unfortunately supported by the outcome of too many rape cases and too many opinions of people who claim to know what they are talking about.

This case and others like it show that all the talk about how drunk rape victims must have consented are nonsense.

Because of this bigotry many investigators do sloppy investigations, or they taint the investigation by treating rape victims like suspects, or they do no investigations at all even going as far as refusing to identify a rape report as a crime to be investigated. These problems can occur because investigators agree with the bigotry or they see the bigotry as insurmountable.

What these bad investigative practices do is feed the bigotry and the faulty beliefs behind that bigotry.

The good news is that the defense strategy which causes so many investigators to surrender is structurally weak. This defense strategy fails to prove how individual drunk rape victims consented. All this defense strategy does is put forth a generic theory that all drunk women consent (apparently they never say no or they never mean it when they do say no) and some of these evil women compound their sins by wanting to punish innocent men for these women's own decisions.

If important evidence was lost or never sought by investigators the jury won't know that it wasn't the original claim which was weaker than these generic defense claims against women who drink. It will be rape victims who will be tainted as false accusers because of the incompetence or negligence of investigators and/or prosecutors.

But a handful of convictions secured recently in cases where victims had been drinking showed that if detectives put the effort into securing the evidence and the CPS was "bold" enough, it could pay off.

"My advice to cops is: investigate. If someone gets their car nicked or their house broken into and their DVD player's gone, then you start an investigation, irrespective of the respectability of the victim.

What this means is that jurors' bigotry can be set aside when competent investigators do their jobs promptly and carefully rather than serving as surrogate defense attorneys who are looking for any excuse to let a rapist escape justice.

The defense strategies used against rape victims who consumed alcohol are fairly generic so investigators and prosecutors are not facing an unknown hurdle.

"People are still being dragged kicking and screaming to the plate. They say they're just being realistic but they're second-guessing outcomes. Around the country you still have individuals who are charged with responsibility at a senior level who are cynical at best about rape in general. People are saying, 'Is it a priority for me?'."

The reality is that the greatest barriers to justice for rape victims are those who are supposed to be ensuring that the law be upheld.

If justice for all rape victims isn't a priority for someone then that person has made the decision to side with rapists. Disclaimers and excuses are rationalizations which are disproven by these people's actions.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:18 AM   0 comments links to this post


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