13-Year-Old Accused of Egging on Her Abuser

This past week Rape Crisis England and Wales reported on the treatment of a 13-year old rape victim who was severely victim blamed in court. The 13-year old was described, by the sentencing judge, as “predatory” and was believed to have been “egging her abuser on.” The rapist, despite pleading guilty to one account of sexual activity with a child and two accounts of producing extreme pornographic imagery, was given a eight month suspended sentence and avoided prison.

Apparently the sentencing judge claimed that despite the fact that the child was “egging on her abuser” (stating that this argument was a “fact” when describing her “predatory behavior”) is no defense in the case of a child. Still, the sentencing judge, in a case where the accused pleaded guilty, felt the need to provide some victim blaming while accusing a child of sexualized and predatory behavior.

According to Court News UK the judge also stated that: “You have come as close to prison as is imaginable. I have taken in to account that even though the girl was 13, the prosecution say she looked and behaved a little bit older”.

This might have been the most disgusting comments I have heard in regards to victim blaming and rape culture. Here a child has been abused and the abuser is receiving a lowered sentence, avoiding prison, despite the serious accounts of sexual assault and despite pleading guilty. What we often hear in regards to cases of sexual assault and rape is that it is extremely difficult to prove that rape was in fact rape. The victims also have to defend themselves while their sexual history and past sexual activity is used against them. But, it seems that a guilty plead by the accused is not enough to stop victim blaming and the sexualization of women and girls (often by stating that she really wanted it, was just playing hard to get, or was egging on the abuser). There appears to be no situation in which women/girls are wholeheartedly believed and trusted and are not further victimized by victim blaming attitudes.

5 Tips On How To Avoid Rape

rape posterWhen I saw a poster outside my apartment complex with big letters saying “5 tips on how to avoid rape,” I thought that this would be further the ideas of victim blaming. Instead, this poster was aimed at men. I truly appreciate this since that removes much of the victim blaming from sexual assaults and rape. Despite the good intentions of the poster and whoever put it up, I still have a few concerns with the information presented and the tips provided. Here is what the poster said (my translation):

Respect a no
Respecting when someone says no is key. It should also be said more often that when a person is unable to give consent, it means no. A person that is intoxicated, sleeping or in any other way cannot communicate a yes, cannot give consent and therefore any sexual act towards this person is sexual assault.

You have a choice
I appreciate the idea, I just think that the phrasing is off. I would have appreciated if the poster said: this choice is only yours or it is only your responsibility. The act of raping someone and the choice involved in that act should not even have to be discussed. Unfortunately, it does. As we have previously experiencened in some of the comments of a post about rape and evolutionary psychology, it is sometimes presented, and believed, that rape is a natural act committed by men against women in order to ensure reproductive success. [Read more...]

Update: Victim of “Infidelity Check” Receives Justice

Earlier this year we reported on a story in which a man’s sexual assault of his girlfriend, in order to check for evidence of her being unfaithful, was not deemed a rape act and was instead treated as a violent act that lacked sexual intent. Initially, the man was sentenced to 32 months in prison for rape and abuse. After an appeal, The Svea Court of Appeal, however, dismissed the sexual assault claim and lowered the sentence to 14 months in prison in which the man was only found guilty for acts of violence without sexual characteristics.

The Local reported on once again a change in sentencing as the case went to Sweden’s Supreme Court which ruled that the act was indeed rape and stated that:

“If a man forces a woman to tolerate him putting his fingers in her genitals, then the incident has a tangible sexual character that is capable of violating her sexual integrity. It is therefore a question of a punishable sexual act”.

The man was again sentenced to 32 months in prison and have to pay damages of 116,000 kronor ($17,700) to the woman.

Court Claims Victim Of Sexual Assault Could Have Just Been Shy

An article in one of our local papers discussed the assumptions and beliefs of the Swedish legal system as three men were acquitted of rape charges. Two men sexually took advantage of a young woman while a third held a camera, filming the assault, which took place at a party. The assault also involved the attackers using a wine bottle. As if this was not degrading and horrifying enough, acquittal in the case did not pertain to lack of evidence as much as flimsy and stereotypical assumptions about women’s intent and consent. The court stated that: “The men could have mistaken the woman’s attempts to keep her legs together as simply a sign of her being shy or initially hesitant.” The court also stated that: “People involved in sexual activities together sometimes act spontaneously and without asking the other person involved for consent.”

The three men were freed from charges even though the court claimed the woman’s testimony to have been believable, logical, consistent, detailed and more probable than the stories given by the men during their testimonies. Despite this, the court believed that the men were unaware of the fact that the woman did not express consent.  [Read more...]

Swedish Police Fail Rape Victims

The last few days, a number of headlines in Swedish newspapers have discussed the large amount of rape cases that go unsolved. One of the reasons for this does not appear to be lack of evidence, but rather the appalling treatment of collected evidence.

Articles provide examples such as that of a 25-year rape victim who went to the police where semen and other evidence were gathered. The man accused of rape denied his involvement. A match in DNA analysis could have closed that case but the police mishandled the case so badly that it resulted in the loss of DNA evidence and dropped charges.

The woman, together with her attorney, filed a claim for compensation arguing that with the DNA the man could have been found guilty. The woman was, however, not given any compensation, form of restitution, or claim of justice. [Read more...]

“Keep Calm and Rape a Lot”

Content Notice: This piece discusses rape culture, sexual assault and violence.

Rape culture is something that we have discussed at length here at Feminists For Choice. Rape culture normalizes and trivializes rape and sexual abuse. Still, there are some people who believe that rape culture does not exist and is a concept made up by angry man hating feminists. We believe that rape culture does exist in many forms and is perpetuated by a culture in which rape is not taken seriously.

So to the critics, read the following and state if rape culture is all in our heads:

Amazon has over the last few days removed t-shirts from the company Solid Gold Bomb, launched in Australia, with slogans that read: “Keep calm and hit her”, “Keep calm and rape a lot” and “Keep calm and rape them” that were on sale on the company’s website. Other t-shirts by Solid Gold Bomb also read: “Keep calm and knife her”, “”Keep calm and choke her” and “Keep calm and grope on”.

Amazon received hundreds of angry complaints about the t-shirts and the message that these t-shirts encourage. Many people are also very upset that Amazon has been making money out of encouraging and trivializing rape, sexual assault and violence against women. Suggestions have been made that Amazon should donate a substantial amount of money to women’s shelters and organizations that work to end violence against women.

There is hardly any better example than this to show how accepted rape culture is. Here we have a giant worldwide company selling t-shirts that perpetuate the notion that violence and sexual violence against women is acceptable. In short, we find it sickening.

Sexual Assault Not ”Sexual Enough”

Content Notice: This piece discusses sexual violence, assault and rape.

A sexual assault case in Sweden describing how a man received a lowered sentence because the sexual assault he put his girlfriend through was not “sexual enough” or did not have enough of a sexual undertone has Swedish feminists extremely upset this past week.

The man in question had been threatening and beating his girlfriend for an extended period of time. In a jealous rage, which apparently was very common behavior for the man, he ripped his girlfriend’s underwear of and forced two fingers into her to check for “evidence” that she was cheating on him. The man was initially sentenced to two years and eight months for (among other things) rape. The definition of rape does cover sexual assault in all forms and is not solely based on penetrative acts. However, the Supreme Court changed the decision and claimed that the man simply had used force and dismissed the sexual assault claim.

According to the Court, the assault was not based on sexual violence but solely violence. The man did, according to our present laws, sexually assault the women but since he was “only” checking for evidence of cheating the Court meant that his assault lacked sexual characteristics. Thereby, the sentence was lowered to 14 months in prison.

Feminists groups have, as stated above, raged against the change of sentencing and have criticized how rape and sexual assault cases are being handled.  This case is also similar to a previous rape case that we have discussed here at Feminists For Choice in which the attempted rape of a trans woman was dismissed as attempted rape because the victim did not have a vagina and therefore rape would have been “impossible”.

Sexual Assault Laws That Discriminate Against Women

Every now and then we read or hear about outrageous laws dedicated to protect patriarchy, defend rape culture, restrict women’s sexuality, or that are just plain discriminatory. We have three examples of such outrageous laws and proposals. One has been overturned (Italy’s rape law); one is being considered (Indonesia’s motorcycle law); and one continues to be both discriminatory and horribly sexist (Iran’s rape law).

The province of Aceh in Indonesia is proposing that women riding behind a man on a motorcycle should no longer be allowed to straddle the bike, since this might “provoke the driver.” A woman riding on her own may straddle the bike, but only if she is wearing proper attire. Not only is the law absurd in its own and reminiscent of the days when women had to ride “sidesaddle” on horses, but it also seems that “side saddling” a motorcycle could be a great safety hazard. The proposal also infers that in order for men to not to get “excited” and act on that excitement, women need to control their sexuality, while men are assumed to not be able to–or need to–control theirs.  [Read more...]

Raping While Supposedly Asleep – Guilty or Not Guilty?

Last spring we wrote a piece for the British feminist website The F-Word which discussed a sleeping disorder called sexsomnia. Sexsomnia is described as a condition in which people behave sexually in their sleep, such as masturbating or even engaging in intercourse.

In the post we were critical of sexsomnia as a defense claim for people who had been charged with rape or sexual abuse. Even though perpetrators have confessed that the sexual assault took place, they also claim to be innocent since they were not aware of their acts. And in some cases, the courts have responded by not invoking a sentence. In order to back up this claim of innocence, some rapists have stated that former partners have told them that they behaved sexually while asleep.

[Read more...]

Apparently, the Female Body Can Permit or Prevent Rape

Many of us were horrified when Todd Akin claimed that in cases of “legitimate rape,” the female body is able to prevent pregnancy. Well, he’s not the only one blaming the victim: recently, California judge Derek Johnsonsaid, in regards to a 2008 rape case, that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen,” that the woman “didn’t put up a fight” and that “I’m not a gynecologist but I can tell you something: if someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted and we heard nothing about that in this case.”

[Read more...]