Why victim blaming in sexual offences is troubling

By: SHIVANI MISRA


posted on: January 9th, 2018

WHY VICTIM BLAMING IN SEXUAL OFFENCES IS TROUBLING

Rape is any form on non-consensual sexual intercourse. It is recognized as a criminal act is most countries. It is a form of violence in which a person uses force to have uninvited sexual activity. Rape is a very serious problem in Africa. A report by the United Nations states that 60% of Ethiopian women have been victims of sexual assault. South Africa also has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world.

Rape and other forms of sexual violence are also common during armed attacks. For example, during the civil war in Rwanda rape was used a strategy to weaken ethnic minorities. This is despite the fact that it is prohibited under international law regulating conflicts.

When a crime is done violating a person’s bodily integrity it is not the fault of the victim. Subjecting the victim to stigma in society and in the legal system is not the way towards tackling the situation. It very easy to put the blame on the victim and say that she is partly responsible for rape. People often say that the woman was trying to lure the man. This attitude is very disturbing. It has been shown that rape is a crime to assert power. Society often builds up notions of manhood where the man supposed to be sexually aggressive. Rape is a terrible crime. The victim deserves justice and the offender must be punished. Often the magnitude of the crime is trivialized. Family members don’t initiate action upon being told of rape.

Whenever a rape is reported it is usually the victim who is put on the spotlight. Rape laws are often directed in ways in which the victim is asked to recount gory details of the traumatic experience. They are humiliated in proceedings by being asked of their sexual history. This makes it harder for victims to disclose sexual assault. One needs to rethink on the justice system.

WHY IS VICTIM BLAMING TROUBLE?

Victim blaming is very common in crimes of sexual assault. The victim is often said to have partially responsible in the crime. It is because of this that a majority of rape crimes are unreported. The victim feels marginalized from society. The victim is socially shamed whereas the offender is not. In this process, victims also start blaming themselves and they lose their self-esteem. It makes the healing process much more challenging. The victim suffers continuously from the day of sexual assault. Also, by blaming the victim society seems to give the message that it is the victims fault to prevent rape rather the offenders fault in raping.

WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD?

As a society we must realize that it is never the fault of the victim. Trivializing the crime only makes prosecution difficult. Many women do not report rape as they feel they won’t get justice. Institutional reforms are required to make the victim more comfortable during proceedings. This involves training of police personnel and also the lawyers and judges. This is needed due to the sensitivity of the crime. A strong support group must be set up where victims of rape can speak up and voice their concerns. The healing process can be effective if there is an environment of trust.

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