Georgia politicians think they’ve found the answer to their state’s rape college problem. It’s called HB 51 and it basically says that anyone a college student tells about a sexual assault they’ve suffered MUST be reported to the nearest police department. Somehow, by not allowing a victim to report to who they choose on their terms is the perfect way to fix this horrible epidemic. And, yea, it’s a bloody epidemic, even if you doubt RAINN’s statistics.
Even as I can see the logic beneath the bill, I also see a major issue that the politicians seem determined to ignore. When rape victims come forward, the reaction can often be one of disbelief, and not in the I can’t believe something so horrible happened! but more a are you sure you’re just not a regretful whore? response that can make the able-to-speak victim regret opening their mouth. Just look to Kesha to understand how demonizing it can be to come forward.
Because of this type of victim-blaming/bashing nonsense, coupled with the piss poor conviction rate (and sad sentences handed out for those that are found guilty) that falls somewhere between 5 and 37 percent, many victims don’t feel there’s any point to talking to police.
Since 2010, at least 152 allegations of rapes and sodomies have been reported to university police at Georgia’s nine largest universities. None have resulted in prosecution. When it comes to keeping it “in house” the numbers increase; out of 43 sexual misconduct complaints, Georgia’s five largest public universities, through internal hearings, have held the accused responsible about 50 percent of the time. A Title IX hearing gets results more than a criminal trial, so why force someone to go through a process they’re not ready to face?
Taking Away Choice
When someone confides in another person, it’s a giant step they may not have even meant to take and there’s a good chance they only uttered the words because they wouldn’t travel beyond the makeshift confessional. HB 51 is meant to take that protection away by demanding any university official who is told about assault tells someone else, no matter how much the victim may beg and plead for them not to.
I’m sorry but you’re not allowed to decide who knows what anymore. You may only need to talk to someone but I’m going to have to report this to the proper authorities which might turn into a witch hunt against you but, you know, politicians need to seem like they’re doing something. I mean, they
I mean, they could try implementing things that stress respect and consent and a better understanding of human sexuality so people have an actual grasp on how to be decent human beings – like, I don’t know, comprehensive sexual education – as well as ways to keep one’s self safe, but that would involve confronting the problem head on and, much like with health care, elected officials don’t seem that interested in preventative measures.
The root of the issue with bills like HB 51 is choice; that is, taking it away from the victims – again – and placing it in the hands of someone not in the victim’s shoes. There are reasons, personal ones, that keep someone from running to the cops and they should be respected.
A Better Way
If you want more people to come forward, try changing a few things on the law’s side. Train police departments on how to conduct a rape investigation without asking the offensive questions about outfits, number of drinks and how hard they fought back; rape isn’t always a blood-soaked spurt of violence, so rid investigators of that requirement.
While you need not instantly announce the accused guilty, and according to our laws you shouldn’t, take the complaint seriously. And when a guilty verdict is handed down, don’t go all Brock Turner and concern yourself more with the attacker’s future; they created their own hell. Let ‘em live in it. PUNISH the guilty, and not just for three months; what they did affects the victim for life. The rapist should get something more than a minor inconvenience.
Until the state can do more than revictimize, leave the universities to do what their students trust them to do. Of course, continue the federal oversight – not all schools do what’s right without someone to answer to – but don’t take away a victim’s choice just to make yourself feel better.
You’re not helping anyone. You’re just reinforcing what an attacker stated with their actions; you don’t need to consent for others to do whatever they want to you. That’s not the message that needs to be sent.
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Will is a writer and an artist, born in Bridgeport, CT. He has always looked to the future and dreamed of what could be. After writing a short story in seventh grade, he discovered a love of writing that rivaled his love of reading. He currently lives in Ansonia, CT surrounded by character sketches and outlines. See more of his writing (and some artwork) at his site and find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, DeviantArt and Google+.