« CARNIVAL OF FEMINISTS | Main | WHAT KIND OF FEMINIST AM I? »

Comments

ginmar

Thank you. People act like women dream up false rape accusations for fun. Have you read "Virgin or Vamp" by Helen Benedict? Ostensibly it's about sexism and rape myths in the media, but it's really about language and sexism in general and how they shape perceptions. It's a must read.

Richard

"The thing that most people do not understand is that the victim’s testimony IS factual evidence."

I just adore how prosecutors (and former prosecutors … nudge nudge) drop the word "alleged" from sentences like this. Of course, "alleged" is what the legal presumption is all about. So let's try this again: "The thing that most people do not understand is that the ALLEGED victim's testimony is made up of ALLEGATIONS of SUPPOSEDLY factual evidence.” There. That’s better.

Anyway, the problem for the defendant in a rape case is often not the lack of evidence, but rather the lack of OBJECTIVE evidence, the very definition of the “he said/she said” prosecution. Without objective evidence it all comes down to presentation which can be a huge risk for a defendant, especially if he doesn't look a lot like the jury of his peers.

(And she need not even lie about a rape to do an injustice. She might, for instance, have really been raped, but yet not by the defendant in the courtroom. In this case she might be *extremely* credible to a jury, and yet dead wrong.)

"Someone would have to be a brilliant psychopath to concoct a detailed and believable rape allegation, repeat it consistently over the course of months, and stick to it throughout all the scrutiny and skepticism to which rape victims are routinely subjected."

Oh? Really? What –- exactly -- is your authority for a statement like this?

The Happy Feminist

So much to respond to Richard--

1) Hey -- you got no arguments from me against the presumption of innocence. And I agree that prior to a conviction the victim is not yet proven to have been a victim. But I wouldn't call her testimony "SUPPOSEDLY" factual evidence. It's a subtle point, perhaps, but a citizen coming forward and testifying under oath IS factual evidence. We have to apply our critical thinking skills in assessing that evidence and obviously the defense can raise doubts about the validity of the evidence but it is still evidence.

2) I'm not sure what you mean by "objective evidence." I suppose you mean "physical evidence." But physical evidence generally has limited value -- the presence of semen doesn't prove whether there was consent or not, for example. The fact is that it is virtually impossible to prove anyone's guilt of any crime to a 100% mathematical certainty. That is why we have the "beyond a REASONABLE doubt" standard.

3) There is the possibility that a victim can make a mistake and mis-identify someone as the rapist. This is only a possibility, of course, when a stranger commits the rape. Eyewitness identifications of strangers are notoriously unreliable in every kind of crime, whether it's a rape or a mugging, and whether the identifying witness is a man or a woman. That's not the issue I was addressing in my post. As a prosecutor, I made it a point never to prosecute stranger cases without additional corroborating evidence, above and beyond the eyewitness ID, linking the defendant to the crime.

4) Yes a person would have to be a brilliant psychopath to pursue a rape allegation consistently through months of the trial process. In most cases I have prosecuted there was no apparent motivation for the victim to go to so much trouble to ruin someone else's life. Sometimes the supposed motivation was to get back at a man for breaking up with her, but would a normal person actually lie and keep her detailed and fabricated story straight over the course of months upon repeated questioning by police, prosecutors, and defense attorneys? To do so she would have to be BOTH extremely vindictive and smart enough & detail oriented enough to keep her story straight. Do you really see people exhibiting this degree of malice on a regular basis?

Jeff

I agree that the media does blow this sort of thing out of proportion....but we all cant act like it doesn't happen! The fact of the matter is that "crying rape" is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to women wanting to get away with committing adultery.

Benjamin Brown

Crying rape, does not a conviction make, interesting title. Crying rape though doesn't have to end in a conviction to ruin a man's life though does it? That aside, the title isn't necessarily true. Its a fact that there have wrongly imprisoned individuals on the basis of rape. Its also a fact that there are women who will falsely claim rape. Now I'm not saying its going to happen every time, but there are just too many factors to state honestly that it wouldn't/hasn't happened.

The system after all, doesn't always work as intended after all. Sometimes all the pieces simply fail to do their job correctly. Myself, I have every sympathy for those who have been raped but those who state rape falsely only bring injustice to those who have actually been raped.

The problem is, you paint it as a black & white issue. It isn't, its much more complex than that.

Ellie

I have just been raped by my x-husband, one week after our divorce. I believe he was unhappy about the settlement. I lived with him for 10 years, and I never really knew the extent of his psychopathy. Personally, I would not be capable of lying about violence that extreme. It was beyond anything I have ever encountered. He put a quilt over me and restrained me with two sets of handcuffs and a rope. I was begging him to have sex with me because I was terrified he was going to do something worse. He did in fact calm down a little afterwards and that was what enabled me to escape after three hours. The instruments he used had been specially altered so that he could gain control of me single handedly. Our whole divorce and separation has been so extreme it is hard for people to believe, and he lies so confidently and elaborately. However, he does get confused and it doesn't take that long for anyone to see that he's inconsistent. However, I am so frustrated that people glaze over and eventually distance themselves from me because it's so unbelievable. I was in shock for about 4 days and I carried on as normal. Then the anger and the fear hit me like a tidal wave and I hid in a hotel for 10 days. I have custody of the children but unfortunately he has abducted them and disappeared. I feel so much contempt for anyone who suggests this was anything other than what it was. Now I am in my house and I'm afraid to go out. I feel so let down by everyone. I just want the police to find him and the system to put him in prison forever. I would not be able to live a normal life while that man is roams free and is devoting his life to destroying me.

cori

Currently my brother-in law is sitting in the county jail on a 200,000.00 dollar bail for first degree rape of his wifes best friend. There is no physical evidence, no defensive wounds, no brusies on the alledged victim nothing. I have personally known this man for 15 years. He has been nothing more than a hard worker, great father and completly in love with my sister. The issue at hand is that the alledged victim is my sisters best friend of 20 years so why would she "call rape"? To save her ass. This woman came on to her best friends husband. She opened her front door to him in her braw and thong. She persued him! She was turned away by him and she was pissed and now completly scared fearing that he would tell his wife about the incedent and she would lose her best friend and have the reputation around thier little town of the friend that tried to seduce her best friends husband she panic. She began calling friends not the cops. What worries me about the whole thing is this girl is vindictive, smart, and detailed orintated and then you add her bi polar illness and you have a very distructive women. Why would a woman go this far to ruin someones life because its easier than dealing with the truth of who and what she is. So far my brotherin law has lost his job of 13 years hes had since he turned 18. The house he just had built for my sister is in jepordy, my sister is falling apart with anger and depression and his four children are just lost. So I really hope your right when you say the victim goes through many steps to prove shes telling the truth because so far he's lost so much and he hasn't even been to trial yet nor got his side out!

Ish

A guy's reputation is destroyed when a chick cries rape. And you better beleive that it happends a lot more often than you think. The fact is that it shouldn't be so easy for a woman to accuse someone of rape. It's just fuckin wrong. And even though they'll probably fuck up on the story somewhere, the poor guy is probably sitting in jail. Women say everywhere that they want to be equal. But they still cry rape and robbery and every fuckin crime in the book to the police. False rape accusations should be punishable by law. They should be fuckin hanged. Using the fact they are women and vulnerable against an innocent man. It's a damn shame.

Seravy

I suggest reading "Not a Victim Until a Conviction is Entered" by Karen Busby. It is very difficult for someone on trial for rape to get convicted. Basic fundamental principles and legal processes work in favour of the defendant to such an extent that it leaves the complainant virtually without legal protection. and there are many cases where real rapists were just given slaps on the wrist or acquitted. where's the justice in that? and in the event that the complainant is found to have lied about his/her rape, their reputation would be ruined too. it doesn't just 'go away' after a person lies about rape.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23373184-details/Woman+accused+of+crying+rape+is+jailed/article.do

the author of this article (to this post) has also touched on this: the legal process, right from when the victim calls the police, is very emotionally taxing and tramatizing. The complainant is treated as if they are lying from the start. (I suggest reading "The Story of Jane Doe: A book about Rape" by Jane Doe. It goes into immense detail on how rape myths permeate the legal system and police culture. the emotional side of things is also illustrated. most importantly, the role that the media plays to spread rape myths.)

Because of these many factors, a high percentage of rapes are unreported (just the social stigma attached to being a rape victim is something most people would try to avoid). a high percentage of rapes are also dismimssed or charges are not laid because the police deemed that there was insufficient evidence or ignored the call altogether. (see "Story of Jane Doe" and "Not a victim until a conviction is entered")

As for 'the vindicative woman out to ruin an innocent man': our legal system is arranged in a way that the complainant is more like a piece of evidence than actually the one suing the defendant. Crimes are viewed as committed against the state (not the individual/group) so the crown attorney is there is ensure that evidence is presented fairly. they are NOT there to ensure that a conviction is entered. so if the defendant is finding themselves being gunned down, the legal system/crown attorney is more at fault than the complainant. (e.g. Guy Paul Morin. the police just somehow zoned in on him despite the many pieces of evidence that proved his innocence from the start)

I'm not saying that there not no false allegations out there but it is a small percentage and when it does happen, the media blows it out of proporation and makes it seem like there is a crisis of 'crying rape'.

javed agrawala

To: The Happy Feminist,
The alleged victim is a witness, you state. It would be better if you, in the same breath for fairness, also state that "But so is the alledged defendant!"

The comments to this entry are closed.