Saturday, March 21, 2009

Girl's Fatal Asthma Attack Ruled A Homicide Due To Rape

From the NY Times City Room:

At first, the body of 16-year-old Tiana Rice lay unclaimed for weeks in a city medical examiner’s office in Brooklyn because she had not been properly identified. Then, her correct identity was discovered and her parents claimed her body, according to a report in The Daily News last month.

Now the medical examiner’s office has answered another question about Tiana’s fate: It has ruled the Bronx girl’s death a homicide, the police said, finding that an asthma attack that killed her was prompted by her being raped.

Investigators said they believed that Tiana was held down by one man as a second man attacked her in an unoccupied building at 268 Ridgewood Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn. Her partly clothed body was discovered on Jan. 13 at that location after police officers from the 75th Precinct were called there about a report of a female, unconscious and unresponsive.

It is disgusting and heartbreaking that this girl was abused in this way and left unidentified for so long but I am heartened by the correct classification of her death as a homicide.

Any claim by the men responsible that "it was consensual" should be considered meaningless. Even though it appears that she initially consented to some sexual activity, anyone involved is legally responsible not to cause another person's death.

Consent is not the point where you get complete control over another human being and it is not the point where a girl loses control over who has contact with her and in what way. When people define consent in this way they are doing nothing more than using consent as a cop out.

If someone is in physical distress, you immediately stop whatever you are doing, you immediately call 911. It doesn't matter what they consented to.

To do any less is to be criminally negligent at best.

If this frequently cited definition of consent were the true definition of consent then any man who consented to sex would lose the right to control his own body to the point of possibly losing his life. Yet none of the men I've heard use consent in this way would be okay with having this definition used against them. Their usage of this definition is for girls and women only.

That makes this definition nothing more than a smoke screen used to hide criminal behavior.

Those who react to this case by criticizing or blaming this girl for meeting a man she met through the Internet need to realize that doing so sends a dangerous and supportive message to men like those involved in this girl's homocide.

If we are serious about preventing rape and preventing homicides related to rape then the focus of the criticism must center on those who commit felonies. The "don't" messages must include, "don't rape," "don't harm," "don't exploit."

The excuse frequently given for failing to give these messages is, "There's no reaching rapists and would-be rapists." This excuse waives the white flag to rapists and says that we are powerless to do anything more than try to weave and dodge.

Rape involves biology, it is not caused by biology. Rape is caused by rationalizations and how people talk about rape influences those rationalizations.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:40 AM   0 comments links to this post


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