In the News

Observer | Isn't It Time to Speak Up About Sex-Assault Allegers Who Don't Cooperate With Police?

(04/15/2015) However, there are a lot of reasons women don’t report rape to the police. Jennifer Gentile Long, a former prosecutor in Philadelphia and director of AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women, lists them as “self blame—if they know their attacker; or they’re engaged in some consensual sexual activity with their attacker before the assault; or they drank alcohol or didn’t ‘resist’ their attack enough (there is not resistance requirement under the law, but victims may still incorrectly blame themselves for not doing enough to protect themselves).” Also: “Fear of not being believed … and … fear of the perpetrator or pressure/intimidation from the community (campus, neighborhood, circle of friends,) not to report.” [ . . . ]

Despite the reasons women have for avoiding going to the police, it remains, potentially, the most effective way to see their attackers receive true justice. That is the opinion of feminists who are or have been part of the criminal justice establishment. For example, AEquitas’ Ms. Long maintains: “I don’t think that a trauma-informed response is inconsistent with engagement with the criminal justice system—it isn’t a choice between one or the other.” She urges getting law enforcement involved, as does Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (who, it must be remembered, immediately trusted an immigrant hotel maid’s rape allegation against the IMF’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn, an esteemed, powerful, hugely wealthy foreign dignitary; had the dude in handcuffs within hours—and ate it when the case fell apart). “That’s the way to hold perpetrators accountable,” Ms. Long says. “We recognize that a trial can be difficult for a victim, and that as part of a defense strategy, victim credibility can be unfairly attacked … but as difficult as it is, the act of testifying and going through a trial can be very empowering.”

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