Showing posts with label women's rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label women's rights. Show all posts

08 July 2018

Rapists are Criminals: Why do they live among us?

by Mary Fernando, MD

This is my second interview with the Clinical Forensic Medical Examiner, Dr. Kari Sampsel, the only Canadian physician with a fellowship in Clinical Forensic Sciences. She is a Staff Emergency Physician and the Medical Director of the Sexual Assault and Partner Abuse Care Program at The Ottawa Hospital. 

When victims of  sexual violence come into the emergency room, she is in charge of the rape kit, assessments of sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy. She is also responsible for setting up long-term physical and mental health care for these victims.

In the last interview, she stated that one in three women will be assaulted in their lifetime, but less than 20% of victims report the rape immediately. Many suffer with increasing symptoms and then are seen. Some never speak up at all.

There is no other crime that I can think of where the victims are so reluctant to report the crime. Further, a society that believes in the rule of law is poorly served when so many criminals are allowed to commit a serious crime and yet are not held accountable. Imagine, for example, how emboldened car thieves would feel if they knew less than 20% of the thefts would be reported. 

Rape is rarely a crime committed in dark alleyways by strangers. In fact, 85% of rapes are committed by people who know the victim. This suggests that the poor reporting of rape emboldens rapists to assault women they know, largely without fear of any legal consequences. While children are most commonly raped by family members or friends of the family, adult are most often raped by current or past partners, or acquaintances and friends. 

One of the rapes with a great deal of stigma is the rapes by present partners. Many don't see how a present partner can be a rapist. To explain, Dr Sampsel says: “Think of cake. You like cake. But if someone shoves it in your mouth and forces you to keep eating until you feel sick, that would not be OK.” 

The other way to look at this is that rape is assault. If a partner, past or present, or a friend beat a person till they were bloody, breaking their nose and perhaps a few limbs, this would be considered unacceptable in civil society. Assault that is physical, but not sexual, is viewed as unacceptable. Sexual assault should be equally unacceptable. 
When a victim reports a rape, or a series of rapes, the response they encounter can make them walk away and not finish the report. Dr. Sampsel explains that there is often a stereotype of how a rape victim should behave: upset and crying.  

However, the reality is that victims display many behaviours. Some are so upset that they are closed off, unable to make eye contact or articulate what happened. Others, will be angry and in ‘protester’ mode, trying to get justice. Some can even look fairly normal, reporting as factually as they can about the incident or multiple incidents.

Add to this the fact that trauma can make victim forget details, the report itself can appear incoherent and less trustworthy. 

Dr. Sampsel points out that, “People are pretty savvy about when they are not believed. If you give someone the ‘I don't believe you vibe’ then they can be done with the process.”
Which brings us to the process itself. It is long and difficult. Completing the evidence kit takes about 2-4 hours. Every sample must be labeled, dated and gathered in a way that maintains the chain of evidence. Also, many of the samples are gathered from places that we think of as private and, if there are lacerations, this can also be painful.

After the history is taken and the samples are gathered, the victim is often faced with the reality that it isn’t safe to return home. If the rapist was a present partner or past partner with access to the victim’s home, either going to a shelter or staying with family or friends helps. Even if the rapist is a friend or acquaintance, their knowledge of where the victim lives could make it unsafe for them to return home. 

Many cities have a victim service, which provides everything from cell phones to volunteers - who will drive victims to their own home to pick up personal belongings, and help them get to a shelter.

If charges against a rapist are laid, they often get 12-18 months in jail. If a weapon was used or there was an attempt to murder the victim, the jail term could be longer. When the rapist is released from jail, the victim is vulnerable to retaliation from the rapist and may get a restraining order.

Does the punishment for rape fit the crime? Jail is certainly punishment. And the rapist must register as a sex offender and this limits the jobs they can get. Perhaps the biggest part of all this is that the rapist learns that they cannot rape with impunity. Rape is a crime. Punishing criminals is not merely about each individual criminal, it is also about deterring future criminals. If every rapist truly feared jail time, the stigma of being a registered sex offender and limited employment opportunities, perhaps one third of women wouldn't face the ordeal of being raped in the first place. 

30 March 2018

Just Following Orders

by
O'Neil De Noux

It's time to anger family and friends again. Y'all won't believe how much flak I've caught since my anti-confederate blog last year.

I want to talk about police officers blindly following orders.

I'm a retired law enforcement officer, been a cop most of my life, from the 1960s until 2017, with a few breaks in between. I've been in law enforcement from the anti-war and civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s to todays demonstrations for black-lives-matter and immigration reform and me-too and women's rights and so much more. Those causes are not the subject of this discussion. How cops handle them is.

When did police officers start acting like Nazi brown-shirts, jack-booted thugs? Well, since forever. Police officers were used to break up demonstrations for unions, women's suffrage, veterans rights, anti-war, the list goes on and on. Just finished reading Ken Follett's FALL OF GIANTS where British police sided with pro-Nazi English fascists (The British Union of Fascists) and attacked people blocking the Nazis from marching in their neighborhood in 1936.

Here are photos of British police attacking demonstrators at that particular demonstrations, commonly called The Battle of Cable Street.





In the name of law and order, the police were ordered to side with Nazis and followed orders.

Here are photos of suffragettes beaten by police. How in the hell did men beat women with clubs because women wanted to vote? How? Because they were sent to do that in the name of law and order and they obeyed orders.




This may be repugnant today. How about this image from the University of California Davis in 2011?


I was a university police officer then and has discussions with my fellow officers about this. I said, "You don't want to be that guy." And several fellow offieer said they wanted to be that guy. If the university administration (as in California) ordered university police to use force against demonstrators, they'd pepper stray students without hesitation.

I tried to give them some old-man wisdom, reminding them we were talking about students, about young people we were paid to protect. What do we tell their parents? We attacked them because they made things inconvenient on campus, they blocked a walkway? If they blocked a walkway, go another way.

I told them how New Orleans Mayor Ernest 'Dutch' Morial's office was once taken over by demonstrators. Did the mayor call in police to remove them? No. He moved his operations to a different office in city hall and negotiated with the demonstrators to a peaceful solution. Morial knew the score. He'd been a civil rights demonstrator as a young man.

"But we can't let them just stay there." Going back to my discussions with fellow university police officers.

"Yes we can," was my response. We're talking about American kids. They'll need to eat, go to the bathroom, take a shower. They'll need to recharge their cell phones. They don't live on the ground. This is Louisiana. It'll rain soon. They'll get weary and go home. Just wait them out. Be nice to them. Converse with them. Protect them from anti-demonstrators and it'll all calm down. Let them demonstrate.

Stephen Stills, in his enlightened song FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH, wrote of demonstrators, "A thousand people in the street. Singing songs and carrying signs. Mostly saying, 'Hooray for our side'."

Let them voice their concerns. Police officers need not agree or disagree with the message. It's not our job to solve the issue. We maintian the peace and we should not attack either side. You don't want to be that guy.

How about this image from Baton Rouge, Louisiana? Just following orders.


Whose message is more powerful? Heavily armed men in body armor or peaceful demonstrator?

At least they did not use clubs or pepper spray.

www.oneildenoux.com