Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Victims as Criminals

A female student from Tampa, Florida was recently arrested after reporting her rape to police due to an old warrant for failure to pay restitution on a juvenile offense. Despite having recently been rape by a stranger behind a building during a local parade the officers arrested her, ceased their investigation, and kept her in jail for two days. To add injury to insult, the victim was also denied a second dose of the emergency contraceptive, Plan B. The police excused these horrors on bad policies and immediately changed these harmful policies, but could this happen in Madison?

This November the Madison Police got a wake-up call by the City of Madison with the passage of the Justice for Patty Resolution. Patty was a blind rape victim who was charged with false reporting when she came forward after a brutal rape. She, like this young woman in Florida, was treated like a criminal when reporting one of the most heinous and serious crimes in our society. Like Florida, our local police lacked policies on treatment of sensitive crime victims that would safeguard against revictimize them.

It seems like police everywhere lack these policies despite specialized Sensitive Crime Units and trained detectives. Hopefully this police standard will change here by mid-February when Chief Wray submits policy reforms regarding treatment of sensitive crime victims in Madison. While Resolution supporters expect the elimination of tactics used to break down sensitive crimes victims, such as with lies and coercion, the proposal by Chief Wray may fall short. The Police Chief has suggested videotaping interrogations or instructing detectives on when to use these tactics, but this will not suffice. Everyday there are women disrespected, investigated, or arrested like criminals when bravely reporting the most under-reported crime in our nation. Will it really take another incident like Tampa’s before we make these reforms a priority?

Full Associated Press story:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Athletic Gang Rapes

The Duke LaCrosse case has been all over the media lately, but what most media have not picked up on is that the scenario of a black women being raped by multiple white, rich athletes is not. Back in 1991 an extremely similiar situation was reported by a black women at St. John's where she was raped multiple ways by three lacrosse players after they served her a quantity of alcohol.

St. John's rape:

From 1989-90 around 15 gang rapes were reported involving around 50 athletes. In a society that worships athletes and expects women around them to be always willing sexual partners, is it any wonder that these rapes occur and can be excused by media and juries? Gang rape among athletes happen, but they are just called 'group sex':


"Psychologist Chris O'Sullivan, Ph.D., of Buckness University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, studied 26 alleged gang rapes that were documented between 1980 and 1990, and found that fraternity groups committed the highest number, followed by athletic teams. In addition, she found that "the athletes who do this are usually on a star team, not just any old team. It was the football team at Oklahoma, the basketball team at Minnesota, the lacrosse team at St. John's. It seems to be our most privileged athletes - the ones, by the way, most sought after by women - who are often involved in gang rape."

The study of gang rape, as reported by the above article, terrifying exposes the reality of willing participation in such activities. Men not raping participate in other ways, and seem not to intervene or support the victim who they watch brutalized. It's about team bonding, men and conquests. Despite the boastfulness in which these assaults are discussed few prosecutions ever occur. We don't want to defame our heros, we don't want to lose that star what are the female students? The sacrifice of families and the university unto our athletic gods? Suspending unwillingness to view the perpetrators as anything but good athletes and thinking about the realities the victim has and will continue to suffer may soften our nation's hearts and promote efforts to prevent this violence, rather than hide and excuse it.

Suggestion: Read 'Media Support for a Rapist' below to see if it sheds a different light onto the story.