CriminalJustice against Women: Rape
Inspite of substantial reforms in the legislations relating to rape andsexual assault in the 1970s, there number of rape cases reported evenwith the new laws is still low. There are some elements that haveremained the same, rape survivors are still subjected to the samenegative reaction from the legal system, and the public continues toplace blame on the victims of sexual harassment (Van& Bartollas, 2013).
Van& Bartollas (2013) explicates the false myths of what constitutesrape that have affected the attitude and behavior of the society overthe course of history. Even though these beliefs are false, manypeople still widely hold them as true, denying the rape victims thejustice that they require. These myths provide a outline for who thepublic judge as a likely perpetrators or victim of rape. The mythsdetermined individual’s perceptions on who can or cannot perpetraterape, the time when rape should take place and that rape shouldinvolve a high level of aggression. Many people still believe thatrape survivors must have physically resisted the rape attack(Curtiss, 2007).
Someof the common myths that different groups in the society hold as trueand that lead to the trivialization of the reported rape include,that women are dress promiscuously and who take alcohol deserve to beassaulted, the notion that the alleged rape victim did not resistenough or fight back, consenting to a kiss or touch signifies consentto have sex and that majority of the women tell lies in order to getback at men (Van & Bartollas, 2013)..
Initiallythe law only recognized that rape based on the above myths, such asthat the woman must have been forced and shown resistance (Curtiss,2007). Ancient societies viewed women as commodities and when lawsmeant to address sexual offences against women were introduced, manywere based on the property crime of man against man. In this light,women who wanted to prove a case against a rapist must have had areputation beyond reproach and no sexual experience. In the 1960 and1970s it was the victim and not the defendant who came on trial in arape case (Curtiss, 2007).
Themedia has been a very powerful tool in propagating the myths andmisinformation that has prevented women from reporting and receivingjustice. The media primarily focuses on the victim trauma and on thelapse of the rape victim’s case instead of the abusive methods usedby the perpetrators of the heinous crime (Researchand Advocay for Reforms, 2007).The media has been a key contributor to the creation of rape culturewhere the public normalizes and tolerates rape and condones beliefsand attitudes that trivialize and justify rape. In such anenvironment women are not only vulnerable to rape but are also blamedand condemned for their own susceptibility (Curtiss,2007).
Rapevictims suffer from physical and psychological trauma. Due to the waythe society views rape victims, rape survivors are torn between thedesire to speak out or remain silent for fear of blame andvictimization (Van& Bartollas, 2013).Thishas created the need for a platform that can help the rape victimovercome the trauma and stress connected to remaining silence. Thefeminists movement have played a key role in sensitizing the publicthat violence against women is a public issues (Researchand Advocay for Reforms, 2007).These movements have also called for increase in support and fundingprograms that help prevent and intervene such sexual violence. It isimportant that they create educational initiative, continues with thelegislative reforms that address issues relating to rape, increasesupport and funding to counseling and advocacy programs (Van& Bartollas, 2013).
Curtiss,K.A. (2007).Theimpact of rape myths and the media on students` perceptions of policeresponse and empathy for survivors in sexual assault.The University of Toledo. Retrieved from:http://utdr.utoledo.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2288&context=theses-dissertations
Researchand Advocay for Reforms. (2007). Women in the Criminal JusticeSystem. Retrieved from:http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/womenincj_total.pdf
Van,W. K. S., & Bartollas, C. (2013). Womenand the criminal justice system.Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall