Responsibility AWAREness

About two weeks ago, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) posted this article. The sheer vitriol in the text turned me off immediately, and I thought nothing more about it. Later, I saw my contacts on Facebook reproducing the link to the article. I re-read the article, and felt that something was off. Approaching American self-defence expert Marc MacYoung (again on Facebook), I held a brief discussion with him about the article, and concluded that I had to comment on this article. (You can find the full discussion here.)

The author has written a very messy piece. There is no clear line of logic or argument. From what I understand, the author is furious that the prosecutor pushed for ‘reduced charges’ (aggravated outrage of modesty instead of rape), and attributes this to an unspecified ‘we’ putting a kind of ‘blame’ on the victim. This line of thinking is both fallacious and extremely dangerous.

Rape is a very complex crime. The layman definition is that the perpetrator(s) had sex with the victim without the latter’s consent. However, in a court of law, the prosecution must decisively prove that the victim did not give consent prior to the act. The prosecutor’s job becomes exponentially more difficult when alcohol and high risk behaviour comes into play.

Alcohol makes crime more complicated. It lowers inhibitions, impairs judgment, and compromises memory. In this case, everyone involved had played a drinking game prior to the assault. The victim had sex with someone after the game and before the crime. To someone under the influence of alcohol, the victim’s behaviour could be interpreted as a signal of sexual availability. This effect could be pronounced because the members of the group could have pressured each other towards that interpretation (assuming that had happened).

Here, the woman claims that she did not agree to have sex with the others. However, it is simply the word of one woman against five others — all of whom were under the influence of alcohol. it is very difficult, if not impossible, to clearly prove in a court of law when the line between consensual and non-consensual sex was crossed. The victim said she consented to having sex with one guy, but she did so after being pressured and drinking heavily. The accused might have said that they did not attain consent, and this might have been true, but the prosecution cannot prove the veracity of this statement. The accused could have said that as an expression of guilt and remorse, and not necessarily as a factual recount — or perhaps the accused thought that they did not seek consent, and had convinced themselves that the woman did not give consent. A good defence lawyer, seizing upon alcohol, would probably be able to muddy the waters and prevent the prosecution from using this to decisively prove a rape case.

I cannot say for certain what the prosecutor thought. But I think the prosecutor believed that it’s easier to prove a case of aggravated outrage of modesty than rape here. Further complicating matters are other facts:

1. There was no sign of sexual assault. Rape is a form of sexual assault. Without signs of sexual assault, it is hard to prove a rape case.

2. The perpetrators stopped when she started to bleed. This is not typical behaviour for rapists; this calls into question their intent to carry out their act, and maybe (but I do not know) mitigates their actions.

3. The victim’s boyfriend called the police. The victim had a boyfriend. But by choosing to engage in what she did, she is showing to the court that she lacks a sense of responsibility.

Robin Rheaume says that ‘we’ are blaming the victim. That is not true. There is a distinct difference between ‘blame’ and ‘responsibility’. To blame someone is to find fault with someone. To be responsible is to take on an obligation. Responsibility is a part of blame, but blame is not a part of responsibility.

Here, the woman failed to take responsibility for her actions. She deliberately engaged in high-risk behaviour. To declare ‘The failure of a woman to adequately assess the risk of attack does not mean that she caused what happens and should take blame for it’ is to declare that a drink driver should not take responsibility for running over a pedestrian. It is simply absurd to think that one can divorce one’s action from the consequences of that action. Every action has consequences; the woman has to take responsibility has to take actions. To not do so is both foolish and dangerous.

The woman engaged in high risk behaviour. An example of such behaviour is for a young woman to go alone late at night to a place with plenty of strange young men and alcohol. Another is for a single young woman to play drinking games in a private place with young men unknown to her. Such behaviour puts her at a very high risk of being robbed, raped, and/or killed. This whole case could have been avoided had the victim not showed up, left the moment she realised she didn’t know most of the people at the gathering, or went home before the drinking became serious. She took a risk, and she got burned.

Ordinary and sober people do not normally commit crimes. An ordinary citizen who sees an unguarded purse sees someone else’s property. A thief sees free money. In this case, hormonally charged young men under the influence of alcohol could have interpreted her behaviour as that of sexual availability, or at least an opportunity for sexual activity. This, or a permutation thereof, could have occurred in this case.

The judge, prosecution, and defence know this. It will be very difficult in this case to prove a case of gang rape. The judge may say that it is ‘factually rape’, but that is his opinion, and his opinion does not and cannot count. What counts in a court of law is proof, and as shown above, there is no clear proof that rape had indeed occurred. Had the judge acted on his opinion, he would have perverted this principle of justice.

This is a very messy case all around. It is all the more tragic because it could have been prevented. Had the woman not showed up, all of this could not have occurred — and that is why she is not totally absolved of responsibility for what happened to her.

—-

I would like to highlight something MacYoung said in the discussion:

[I]t is the opinion of myself and many other personal safety experts that many of these advocacy groups are promoting ideas that guarantee they always have a client base. With the information they give about a woman’s ‘rights’ to behave in dangerous and stupid ways, they are guaranteeing there will be a never-ending supply of rape victims for them to ‘help.’

…[L]ook into the funding that AWARE Singapore is getting and their political/legal lobbying and activities. The big money isn’t in the front lines actually helping women who were raped (Here in the States, most of the front line people are volunteers). The big money is in administration, ‘education’ fees, lobbying, medical and psychological funding.

MacYoung’s opinion might be a valid one. I know MacYoung doesn’t think highly of American groups similar to AWARE. But American advocacy groups operate differently from AWARE.

In its Constitution, AWARE states it shall not ‘indulge in any political activity’. According to its 2008 financial statement, AWARE had a deficit of $5,975 in 2007, and a surplus of $19,934 in 2008. Net current assets for 2007 were worth $208,365, and $407,699 in 2008. In 2009, AWARE had a deficit of $9,407, with net current assets worth $398292.

I guess it’s safe to rule out lobbying from the agenda — AWARE’s constitution prohibits political activity. Much of AWARE’s funding comes from donations and subscriptions. The ‘big money’ MacYoung refers to would fall under ‘other income’ in the financial statement, in addition to other revenue like sales from its online store. In 2008, AWARE made $33,596, and in 2009 it made $18,359. These figures are significantly less than donations ($319,300 in 2009, $328,207 in 2008) or fund raising activities ($72,683 in 2009, $43,584 in 2008’s flag day).

Given that AWARE cannot lobby and makes more money from donations and other fund raising activities than ‘other income’, it’s safe to say that AWARE is not out to spread a ‘rape agenda’ to guarantee a steady stream of income from activities that would make big money in America. However, I cannot as yet disprove the notion that AWARE is deliberately spreading a rape agenda to attract more support and donors.

Still, AWARE does a lot than just talk about rape. If one wants to spread a rape agenda, one would fixate on rape, which AWARE is not doing. AWARE discusses everything from financial knowledge to secularism; rape is just one facet of many. I can’t see a rape agenda here, at least for now.

In light of what I have seen so far, I think Rheaume was simply expressing an opinion based on illogic, and nobody at AWARE caught it. Still, the article should have been fact-checked, and its opinions compared to those of recognised self-defence experts. If there were an editor, that person failed. If there were no editors, there should have been one.

I guess MacYoung got this wrong here, but his experience is mostly limited to America. I wish there was someone like MacYoung in Singapore, someone who is extremely knowledgeable and experienced with self defence and the law, but I’m not going to hold my breath, and I won’t hold out for him. Nobody should.

The author thanks Marc MacYoung for permission to use his material and the discussion on Facebook for this post.

26 thoughts on “Responsibility AWAREness

  1. “There was no sign of sexual assault. Rape is a form of sexual assault. Without signs of sexual assault, it is hard to prove a rape case.”

    My dear Boy. One of the facts agreed upon by both the victim and the accused is the fact that the boys held her down. Is this not enough for you? 5 perpertrators versus 1 victim? What more would you like? Bruises? Burn marks? Wounds? Broken bones? Tell me, please? How much violence would you like for the boys to have enacted upon her before you consider her case a straightforward case of rape? Tell me. Seriously.

    “The perpetrators stopped when she started to bleed. This is not typical behaviour for rapists; this calls into question their intent to carry out their act.”

    My dear Boy. Perhaps the perpertrators stopped in order to avoid overt signs of sexual assault, a point you brought up in your article. Perhaps they were only stupid enough to realise the gravity of their crime at that point. That you even brought this up as a point is appalling. They stopped when she started to bleed? Oh, how touching.

    “The victim had a boyfriend. But by choosing to engage in what she did, she is showing to the court that she lacks a sense of responsibility.”

    My dear Boy. There is a stark difference between personal responsibility and criminal responsibility. Under no circumstances should personal responsibility (particularly on the part of a victim) affect charges that pertain to criminal action.

    “Had the woman not showed up, all of this could not have occurred — and that is why she is not totally absolved of responsibility for what happened to her.”

    Had I not been crossing the street, a drunk driver would have not hit me. Had I not been parked out late at night, people wouldn’t have carjacked me. Had I not gone to club, I would not have gotten groped. Had I not been at the ATM, I would not have gotten robbed.

    Let’s get one thing clear. This teenager, in going to someone’s house, in drinking, in consenting to sex with one person, was not, in any way, inviting anyone to violate her body. The abovementioned actions are not criminal acts. And should not be taken into account when sentencing perpertrators. Grow a brain. I am all for critical thinking, but not argument for the sake of argument. Opposing opposing viewpoints just for the sake of looking radical or thoughtful or cutting edge, for lack of a better word, lame.

  2. I have so much to say but I’ll focus on two points only.

    There is no arguing that the young lady in question could have been more responsible. But that is a case of personal responsibility and should no way negate the five young men’s criminal irresponsibility. And that is what is in question here – criminal responsibility. What the men did was legally wrong and her actions before the act should not be considered mitigating factors. We do not excuse a murderer simply because his victim was drunk and wandered into a dark alley – murder is still a crime regardless of the actions of the victim leading up to the crime and the same consideration should be given for rape. This is not ‘he said she said’ – all the parties; the 5 men and the young lady agree on the story presented to the court of non-consensual sex, thus rape!

    “Ordinary and sober people do not normally commit crimes. An ordinary citizen who sees an unguarded purse sees someone else’s property. A thief sees free money.” From your own analogy, sobriety or drunkeness is irrelevant. An ordinary citizen, even when drunk, would not steal a purse. To do so, drunk or sober, he has to have the mindset of a thief. Whether they were drunk or sober when they raped her does not change the fact that they are rapists! And we should not forget that when they invited her over and conceived the scheme, they were perfectly sober.

  3. “Here, the woman failed to take responsibility for her actions. She deliberately engaged in high-risk behaviour. To declare ‘The failure of a woman to adequately assess the risk of attack does not mean that she caused what happens and should take blame for it’ is to declare that a drink driver should not take responsibility for running over a pedestrian.”

    And there you have just perfectly exemplified what the post you are responding to is talking about.

    Can you at least not see how wrong it is to compare the drunk woman–who is the victim of a crime–directly with a drunk driver, who is the perpetrator of a crime? The victim did not make the people who assaulted her do what they did. You know who made that choice? The people who assaulted her did.

    This is what victim-blaming is: saying oh, if the victim hadn’t done this-and-that, then the assault wouldn’t have happened. Why are we putting the onus on her when it was the assailants who were responsible for carrying out the assault? We should be saying, oh, if the assailants hadn’t been such advantage-taking douchenozzles, then the assault wouldn’t have happened. Unfortunately, when it comes to rape, we often hear too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

  4. >Ordinary and sober people do not normally commit crimes. An ordinary citizen who >sees an unguarded purse sees someone else’s property. A thief sees free money. In >this case, hormonally charged young men under the influence of alcohol could have >interpreted her behaviour as that of sexual availability, or at least an opportunity for >sexual activity.
    This is why we call the thief a thief, and in this case, we call these men rapists. What is so difficult about that?
    There are plenty of fine young men out there, who, even when intoxicated, do not proceed to gang-rape a woman who is with them. You are doing them a disservice when you write articles like these.

    >Had the woman not showed up, all of this could not have occurred — and that is why >she is not totally absolved of responsibility for what happened to her.
    Had the men not raped her, she would not have been raped! There, fixed your statement for you.

  5. To the first poster:

    A gynecologist examined her, according to the link I posted. There was no sign of sexual assault. Holding down a woman is not tantamount to sexual assault. Not in the eyes of the law.

    Rapists do not normally stop during the act. Rapists under the influence of alcohol usually do not have sufficient planning or judgment to think so far ahead, or even control themselves if the act were premeditated. I did not say that they stopped to avoid overt signs of rape. I said that they could have stopped because they did not actually intend to rape her, and did what they did because she did not resist and they were looking for an orgy, not a rape.

    The teenager showed up at a house full of men unknown to her late at night and got herself drunk (which is a crime; she is underage). To criminals, that kind of behaviour is a sign that she’s an easy target. She might not have overtly signalled that she wanted to be raped, but criminals don’t care. All the accused saw was a target, because of her high risk behaviour.

    It’s also very funny how you say you’re ‘all for critical thinking, when you apply strategies like insults and a demeaning tone, which are contrary to the spirit of critical thought.

    Second poster:

    The group of five presented a contradictory story. Two of the perpetrators said that the victim did not say she was unwilling. Two others said she said she did not want them to do what they did. Everybody’s story is suspect, because they were under the influence of alcohol during the time of the events. In a court of law, as I’ve written above, it might not be enough to definitively prove a rape.

    And, by the way, the girl was drinking when she was underage. She was 17 at the time, and that is below the drinking age. That tells the judge that she was being irresponsible, especially since she showed up alone at a strange place at midnight to play a drinking game.

    The aspect about criminal mindset applies to high risk behaviour in general. Sobriety is important, because alcohol influences judgment and memory. The victim might have consented to the first time she had sex, because she was drunk. The accused might have done what they did, because they thought she really wanted to have sex, because they were drunk and thought that her consenting to have sex was a sign that she wanted to have sex with all of them. Her high risk behaviour and sexual promiscuity can be and are seen by people of a certain mindset as an invitation for sex, if not rape. Had she not acted the way she did, she might not have been seen as a target.

    JY Yang,

    The analogy I presented related to circumstances. It’s not a perfect analogy, but I think it’s good enough. A drink driver could have avoided the situation by not drinking and driving. The victim could have avoided being assault by not engaging in high risk behaviour. The two of them made decisions that led to the circumstances that resulted in adverse consequences.

    The accused are not any less responsible for whatever they have done. But the victim’s behaviour encourages would-be criminals to attack her, and had. People with a criminal mindset would read her behaviour and think that she is either easy or an easy target. The accused were responsible for what they did to her. The victim was responsible for setting herself up for sexual assault. And the circumstances that she got swept up in prevented the prosecution from clearly proving a case of rape.

    x,

    I have no qualms with calling a rapist a rapist…if the courts can prove a case of rape. If the prosecution cannot prove rape, then they cannot legally be considered rapists, no matter what people may think.

    I’m not saying all young men would act the way you described. I was describing the five young men involved in the situation.

    It is true that if the men had not raped her, she would not have been raped — if rape had indeed occurred. It is also equally true that if she did not go to their house, played a drinking game, and consented to sex with one of the men, she would not have been raped.

  6. All those people in Namly who live in fancy houses should be guilty of practicing high risk behaviour by tempting innocent robbers I guess

  7. Paul,

    ‘High risk behaviour’ is actually a technical term used to describe a combination of negligence, recklessness, ignorance, and illogical thinking. If they leave their doors and windows open and unlocked, show no awareness of the environment, fail to invest in good security systems and believe that they won’t ever be robbed or burgled, then, yes, they are inviting trouble.

  8. In response to the above response:

    And even if someone who lives in a big house, left “their doors and windows open and unlocked, showed no awareness of the environment and failed to invest in good security systems”, the robber, when caught, would not have his/her charges reduced based on the fact that the owner of the house made an unwise decision.

    Oh wait. Maybe the owner of the house was intoxicated at the time and the robber thought that that was an invitation to come on in.

    Benjamin. If “high risk behaviour” is equated to “negligence, recklessness, ignorance, and illogical thinking” and requires punishment, then you are in dire need of a good telling off, based solely on this blog entry.

    🙂

  9. wtf,

    Based solely on your reply, I reckon you need to re-read what I’ve written. You have misrepresented me. Twice. Nowhere have I said that the criminal is any less liable for what he or she has done just because the victim engaged in high risk behaviour. Neither have I said that high risk behaviour ought to punished in a court of law.

    Criminal charges are based on what the prosecution can prove. In the case I’ve written about in this post, it is very difficult for the prosecution to prove rape, because of conflicting testimonies, lack of evidence, alternative interpretations of intentions and events (which a defence lawyer will raise), and the victim’s high risk behaviour (which started events in motion and muddled up the case for the prosecution as a result).

    In the example you’ve mentioned, the prosecution can prove theft/robbery/burglary/housebreaking, because it is harder for the defence to provide mitigation or any other reason why a complete stranger would break into another stranger’s home and cart off with the latter’s personal possessions. That the owner had no security systems, lacked awareness, or otherwise exhibited high risk behaviour would be glossed over in a court of law. The prosecution won’t mention it because it hurts his case, and the defence won’t mention it because it’s an incredibly lame defence.

    But human sexual behaviour is not the same as human property rights. There are people who can get drunk, have casual sex with multiple people, and enjoy it. Men and women routinely dress in ways that signal sexual availability. People flirt with each other, sometimes seriously, sometimes for fun. I would think you’d agree that it is rather difficult for inanimate objects to engage in such behaviour, or for personal property to be of more or equal importance to the human body.

    As sex outside of marriage is not a punishable offence, the prosecution has to show where the line between consent and non-consent was crossed. He may not need to prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt, but he must present a stronger case than the defence. Where sexual crimes are concerned, high risk behaviour more often than not harms the prosecution’s case.

    When all is said and done, crime prevention is far better than being a victim. High risk behaviour increases the risk of being a victim. Eliminating such behaviour reduces the risk. It is that simple.

  10. In some Middle Eastern countries, women are not suppose to leave their home without either their husbands or a male member of their family. In doing so they are breaking the law. I read an article some time ago that a woman was caught with a man that was neither her husband or her family. These men proceeded to rape her.

    She broke the law. She entered into high risk behavior. What are your thoughts? Does her behavior seduce these men into thinking that she is easy and asking for it?

    • The following is not an attempt to defend the attackers, or institutions that oppress women. In the scenario you’ve described, I need to consider pre-attack behaviour, intention, and culture.

      ‘High risk behaviour’ is acting in a way that exposes you to a greater risk of being attacked. I’m assuming the woman was in a Middle Eastern country with an extremely strict interpretation of Islam that favours men and oppresses women, and that ‘these men’ are either passers-by or the (religious?) police who caught her. In the context you’ve described, in which leaving the home without a male member of the family is illegal, she did act in a highly risky way, and made the circumstances of her attack possible by giving her attackers a justification (in the attackers’ minds, not to everybody else) to attack her and by being in a place where such an attack is possible (outside the house). In a sense, she put herself in a position where she could have been attacked – and in this case, she was.

      There’s a lot I don’t know about Middle Eastern culture. But I think Middle Eastern courtship rituals do not include a woman leaving the home without a male member of the family, so from my perspective, I don’t think she set out to seduce anyone. (Behaviours do not seduce; people do.) I also don’t think she was actively trying to seduce someone outside of her home, and from what little information you have given me I doubt she was trying to draw attention to herself. Her behaviour was risky in the sense that she broke the law and thus exposed herself to judicial punishment (and possible sanctioned extra-judicial punishment), but I don’t think she took steps to increase the risk she already took.

      The risk she did take was one imposed from her country’s legal system instead of her country’s criminal element. Most personal safety advice is given under the assumption that the legal system does not oppress the people. But in this context, the law is oppressive. The law made it illegal for women to travel without a male relation, providing a quasi-legal justification for zealots to attack women who do that, and I cannot see why women should not travel without a male relation. The risk she took was not derived from how criminals would see her, but rather how her culture and state would treat her. This is high risk behaviour still, but this is because of factors that go beyond how criminals would see the victim. This is about factors that effectively sanction attacks against women, and how I feel about this does not take away the fact that there are people and institutions who use these factors as justifications to attack and oppress women.

      The attackers could have believed that a woman who breaks the law by leaving the home without husband or family is easy, and by going out in public like that, she is ‘asking for it’. Most people need some kind of justification before they attack, be it revenge or anger or anything else that seems valid to them at the time the decision is made. The ‘asking for it’ excuse is an excuse, but at the time the decision to attack is made, the attacker could have seen this as a valid reason to attack. This is not saying that it was a valid one, but that the attacker thought or felt it was. The attackers could have justified their attack by thinking that she was ‘asking for it’, and I reckon local laws and cultural norms would agree with them. From what little I do know about the Middle East and how some of its inhabitants interpret and preach Islam, I think this is one possible scenario out of many. Another scenario, for instance, is that the men were on the prowl and they raped her because they saw that there was nobody to protect her, and established law frowns on her behaviour and is therefore less or not inclined to protect her. But with so little information, I can’t speculate any further with any degree of accuracy.

  11. You have repeatedly contradicted yourself in interpreting your own analogies. First you equate drinking and socializing with men with leaving a purse unattended for a thief. Then, when it is pointed out to you that the thief is still guilty of a crime and should be prosecuted (because the impetus is on the offender not to break the law rather than on the victim to prevent the offender from breaking the law), you claim that you never said the thief was less liable. But, by equating it with this case, in which you are convinced that the perpetrators were not guilty of rape based on the victim’s “high risk behavior,” *that is exactly what you implied.*
    Then, in rebutting the analogy of a home invasion, you correctly point out that the high-risk behavior of the home owner would never be mentioned in court because it is “an incredibly lame defense.” Allow me to expand slightly by suggesting that the burglar could not have reasonably thought that leaving one’s windows open was an invitation for hir to break in. Why, then, is the high risk behavior of the young woman in this story less of a “lame defense”? Factually, legally, morally, violating the bodily integrity of a person who has not said yes is rape. So, why was this not blatantly obvious to the men, all of whom agreed that she did not say yes, some of whom realized that she did not want this? Because they knew that while the burglar who breaks into an open home will be successfully prosecuted, men who rape women almost never are. This bears repeating. They did this because they knew they could get away with it. They knew they could get away with it because people like you will bend over backwards to excuse their behavior.

  12. Brennan,

    it seems that you’ve read too much into what I’ve written here. Just because one person’s actions allowed another to harm him does not mean that the latter is any less liable for doing so. That is exactly what I’ve meant.

    The woman’s behaviour is not a defence, because she willingly chose to approach and interact with her attackers. She put herself at risk through commission – contrast this with the homeowner leaving the windows open, which can be argued as an act of omission. She took no steps to protect herself, and did everything possible to expose herself to sexual contact. A defence lawyer could argue that she wanted to go there and have sex, and that the defendants interpreted her actions as such; she only reported the incident after feeling guilty about it and only after her boyfriend contacted the police. The judge will have to take this argument into consideration — whether or not it actually represented what went on, and in spite of what the prosecution says about it. With everybody’s recollections and subsequent testimonies compromised by alcohol, the judge needs that argument for his judgment.

    I’ve got a question for you. Why do you think ‘men who rape women almost never are’ prosecuted? Do you have proof of this?

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  14. I have only a couple points to make. In most places, being inebriated makes you incapable of giving consent. Yes, a teenager showed up to this apartment and chose to drink. But if it is illegal for her to drink at her age, how did she get the alcohol. You don’t feel the men should be held responsible for providing alcohol to a minor? Unfortunately, it sounds a bit like you’re taking the “she was asking for it” approach. If this was your sister, and someone said, “well, she was asking for it” would that make the assault any less heinous?

  15. AZSkye,

    It would not. And that has always been my stance.

    Read my previous comment.

    The severity of a crime is not reduced by the degree of responsibility held by the victim and the criminal. The severity of a crime is determined by the consequences of an action or a failure to act. What is influenced by degree of responsibility is the punishment determined by the courts.

    So, yes, the men are liable for providing alcohol to her, in the same fashion that she is responsible for consuming said alcohol.

    Let’s make this clear: just because I don’t explicitly condemn the accused here does not mean I approve of their deeds. This post is not about the accused; it is about the victim and how and why her behaviour influenced the court’s decision.

  16. “So, yes, the men are liable for providing alcohol to her, in the same fashion that she is responsible for consuming said alcohol.” Try being a teenage girl surrounded by a bunch of rapists and then refuse the alcohol they offer.
    Say what you will about responsibility – she shouldn’t have been there, she shouldn’t have drank, her parents shouldn’t have let her out of the house – but the reality is, there is no possible way for her to have known she was in the company of rapists. They knew. Or at least a couple of them knew. Let’s work the “responsibility game” in other directions: the rapist’s parents produced rapists, the rapists brought intent into the equation, and no matter what intent creates access. Access cannot create intent.
    Instead of analyzing the responsibility of the young victim in this case, why are we not analyzing the responsibility of society-at-large, who created a gang of rapists, enabled them, and failed to prosecute them and keep them from committing these vile acts again. Failing in the process to send a message to other would-be rapists that such acts would not be tolerated.

    • She might not have known she were meeting a bunch of rapists, but she wasn’t out to protect herself either. Had she taken simple measures: refusing to meet a near-stranger late at night, walking away when she realised he lied, heading home after supper, refusing to go up into the flight – all this wouldn’t have happened in the first place. For all your talk on prosecution: prosecution is the best case consequence when you fail to prevent a crime. The crime has already occurred, but the perpetrators have been caught and there’s enough evidence to convict them. This doesn’t always happen, and the damage has already been done.

      Justice is not what you want it to be: justice is what can be proven in court. If the courts cannot prove a rape – as I’ve explained over and over and over again – they cannot make a rape conviction. If the prosecution cannot meet the standards needed for a rape conviction, if all the evidence satisfied the level for sexual assault but not rape, the judge cannot convict the accused of rape.

      You have provided no evidence that ‘society-at-large’ somehow ‘created’ and ‘enabled’ a ‘gang of rapists’. Elaborate.

  17. Hi Benjamin,

    We’ve been discussing this on your other thread, but because we started here I think it’s important to at least leave another comment on this post. I don’t think we need to rehash the entire discussion we’ve been having, as it’s pretty simple to post a link/pingback to that thread if you wanted to do that.

    Again, thanks for opening up the discussion and providing a safe place to discuss issues of violence.

    As I stated in my other comments, it’s important that we endeavour to deal with rape from both sides of the event – prevention/risk-reduction (without resorting to methods that can be construed as victim-blaming), as well as prosecution of those cases which could not be prevented/avoided because of a particularly motivated criminal who was able to circumvent awareness and undermine defensive strategies. In order to properly prosecute a rape, it becomes necessary to understand what rape is (and again, I would refer to the discussions we’ve had regarding the motivations behind sexual assault), and what then becomes admissible evidence and what becomes mythology associated with a misunderstanding of the crime. I would say this would not necessarily make rape any easier to convict, but once it becomes obvious what a rape is it will become easier to determine whether or not a rape took place. The trial would then be able to properly focus on the evidence and testimony that is pertinent in such a case. Since we both have agreed that crime cannot be stopped completely, it behooves us to address it from both sides of the equation.

    Society-at-large creates victims, correct? Society lulls people into a false sense of security, creates the illusion that the majority of rapes are of virginal young women in dark alleys, or when a rapist breaks into the house of a virtuous woman and attacks her in her kitchen, when we both know the reality is a rape is perpetrated by someone well-known to the victim (even family-members), and tends to be a part of a cycle of abuse… So if society can take part in the creation of victims, why is it so hard to believe society also creates perpetrators?

    Enabling predators happens every time a victim’s pre-assault behaviour is scrutinized to the same degree as the perpetrator’s, if not more so. When a young girl engages in underage drinking with a group of predators, and her behaviour is considered more “questionable” than the adults who provided her with the alcohol to the extent it is a contributing factor to their acquittal the courts have enabled not only these predators but the next generation of predators as well. Society-at-large creates and manages the courts, the police, and the laws they are sworn to uphold so by extension, society-at-large is also enabling these predators.

    Again, I don’t think it’s important to get into this in great detail as we both recognize where we agree and disagree on these matters. I think, though, a link to the other post for your readers interested in both sides of our discussion might be in order.

    Thanks again for allowing me to engage in this dialogue with you on your page, and for being so open to hearing me out.

    Gaz

    • Just a point of order:

      If you’re referring to the case discussed here, the courts did not acquit. The judge had a closed-door discussion with the prosecutor near the close of the trial. Following the discussion, the prosecutor decided to have the charges reduced. The men were charged for aggravated outrage of modesty. Nobody explained why this was so. But from my reading of the case, it seems that the prosecutor simply didn’t have enough evidence to make a rape conviction – which is not to say there wasn’t a rape to begin with.

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