Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why Some Women Don’t Report Rape or Sexual Assault

Introduction Rape refers to the use of force, coercion or manipulation to have sexual intercourse; anal, vaginal or oral, with a person when they do not consent. It involves the sheer use of force, violence and aggression so that a person can not resist the advances of another. Sexual assault refers to the wide range of activities such as sexual harassment, child abuse or inappropriate sexual contact. In the United States, rape or a sexual assault is reported every six minutes. This statistics grossly under represents the exact numbers of rape cases (Odem & Clay-Warner, 1998).they went further to state that for every rape reported, almost 10 cases go unreported. The gravity of the crime of rape and assault makes many people think that it could never be left unreported in the 21st century. However, this common view is far from the truth as most women are molested without raising their voices. The question that often lingers in the minds of the authorities and sociologists is what makes the women victims keep quiet. The paper will seek to discuss the reasons why so many women do not report to the authorities when they become victims of rape or sexual assault. The paper will, in the conclusion section, give some overview of what should be done to encourage rape and assault reporting by the women. Reasons why rape and sexual assault reporting by women in low Kimani (2007) argue that the trauma and stigma attached to the victims of rape or sexual assault does not end even when the rapist is convicted. There is a perception by some women that nothing is going to change in their lives and the crimes will still linger in their minds. In addition, due to the shameful nature of the crime, women find it embarrassing when they are blamed that they were the cause of the assault for instance by how they dressed. The feeling of hopelessness that comes after rape always leads to the women keeping it to themselves. Due to a high acquittal rate for the sexual assault cases as compared to other crimes, women are reluctant to report the crimes. Failure by the justice system has led to the lack of faith of some women thus they don’t report the rape cases. Since rape and assault cases often needs the offenders DNA and proof that there was no consent, women would rather not suffer the humiliation in the court room that they were trying to make up the crime. The loss of dignity that results from the courts deliberations has led many women to rather stick with their dignity than seek justice. Some of the questions that the women who are victims of rape or assault are put through make them feel as if they are also being put to trial thus some of them would rather stay with the crime than report. The court process can be more humiliating to the victims than the crime itself (Hart & Rennison, 2003). Sexism and racism are also major contributors to why women don’t report rape cases. The belief that the women are inferior creatures to men propagated by sexist ideologist has often led women not to report rape. The women see themselves as people meant to satisfy the men’s needs. There is also a notion that the men cannot control their sexual desires and thus rape is not of their own making (Odem & Clay-Warner, 1998). They went further to state that women are socialized to accept these forms of assault on them as normal. The increased portrayal of women in pornography as objects of man’s desire has engraved the sexist prejudices further; the women are shown as submissive to advances by the men. Sexism can also be propagated by the authorities for instance the authorities see the women of color in America as more susceptible to rape due to their economic standing than the white women. When a white woman is raped, the authorities doubt their stories and thus leading to some of them not reporting the crimes. The women of color are stereotypically classified as promiscuous so they are not believed in most cases. Since even the institutions are sexist, the women do not trust them to deliver justice Women risk social isolation in societies that are closely knit for instance, the immigrant communities or traditional aboriginal villages. Rape cases go unreported since the women who are raped do not want to be shunned due to the embarrassment their actions can cause the community. The majority of assaults in these societies are perpetrated by people whom the women are acquainted with such as their family or neighbors. Women of color do not report rape cases so that they can help dispel the notion that the black communities are violent (Khan, 2000). Hart & Rennison (2003) record that rape and assault cases are sometimes not reported due to fear of vengeance. The prevalence of rape by the people who are familiar with the women (acquaintances), such as work mates, relatives, the people they are dating. The women may not report the crime since they think the person may repeat the ordeal. The rapists have used the fear of retaliation to coerce women into not reporting the assaults and rape cases done against them. Most women who did not report the rape cases said that the men threatened to kill them with their families. Misconception that there is no rape or sexual assault in marriage leads many women who are victims not to report their partners. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (2005), of the women raped by their partners, only 19% reported these cases. This can be attributed to the need by the women to maintain the family fabric, being there for their children of fear of possible retribution and financial dependence on the man. Sexual abuse by a partner is no t considered rape in many countries since the women are viewed as the man’s property after they are married and should always satisfy his sexual demands (Khan, 2000). According to Kimani (2007) the cultural belief that rape prepares the women for marriage has led to fewer women reporting the cases. Once a person has raped or sexually assaulted a woman, they have the right to marry the woman. The victimization increases since the woman does not report but accepts to become the wife of the abuser. The abuse can continue right into the marriage due to repeat acts by the offender. Men in such societies want to show the power that they have over the women relegating them to subservient positions. Odem & Clay-Warner (1998), further state that in some societies a man had to rape a woman before they could be admitted to adulthood. The raped woman has no place to report the crime. These remnants of traditions have persisted to date. In such societies when a married woman was raped, the husband received compensation for the crime thus the crime went unreported. Conclusion Rape has been found to be very prevalent in societies that practiced retrogressive cultural practices for instance the Indian and aboriginal communities where the men were seen as superior being to the women. The men therefore had the right to do anything with the women. These practices should be done away with so that the women can grow up knowing that they are just as equal as the men. The pegging of a rape conviction to proof of non consent beyond reasonable doubt has also contributed to the dismissal of most of the cases brought against rapists by women. They judicial system should instead rely on the watertight evidence of DNA and other medical reports. Only then will the women be encouraged to come out and report the cases of assault and rape against them. The stigma that is associated with the victims of rape should also be reduced so that the women can report rape cases without fear that they will be shunned by the society. Moreover, the judicial system should shed its sexist and racist ideologists if there is to be achieved an increase in the number of women who are reporting the rape and sexual assault. Finally, a system of victim protection should be put in place so that the identities of the victims of rape and sexual assault can be concealed. This will remove the stigma that initially prevented many women from reporting the cases. References Australian Bureau of Statistics (2005) Personal Safety Survey. Australia Canberra: Commonwealth Hart, C. & Rennison, C. (2003). "Reporting Crime to the Police, 1992-2000," Special Report. NCJ 195710, Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics United States Department of Justice. Khan, M. (2000). ”Domestic Violence against Women and Girls”. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.6:12-23. Kimani, M. (2007). “Taking on violence against women in Africa”. Africa Renewal. 21 (2): 4 Odem, M. & Clay-Warner, J. (1998). International norms, local activism start to alter laws, attitudes. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources.