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Task and Purpose | Understanding Sexual Assault In The Armed Forces Requires Looking Outside The Military

(04/16/2015) According to AEquitas, conviction rates are a poor way of measuring success because so many of these cases rarely get to the courtroom. Additionally, prosecutors may only be trying “safe cases,” those cases they know will likely end with a guilty verdict. Sadly, most cases go unreported and while higher rates in the military suggest more victims are coming forward, numbers offer a limited understanding to where we are. [ . . . ]

Rennison explained, “To first accuse the abuser, we must acquit the victim.” When a sexual assault victim is put on the stand, all the biases of society come out to play. According to Jennifer Long’s personal experience, a prosecutor and director of AEquitas, an organization that advises prosecutors on sexual violence cases, “It is very typical for the victim to be put on trial.” She explained that it is fairly easy to defend the rapist, “Just pull out the doubts or myths the jury already has about what a real rapist looks like, and how a victim is supposed to react.”

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