Reform needed in cases of sexual abuse
Anna Reynolds, Staff Writer
December 1, 2011
Filed under Opinion
The legal process and stress of reporting a sexual abuse crime (which includes rape, molestation, and sexual assault), is strenuous and is one of the reasons most sexual abuse victims don’t report the crime.
“14 percent of sexual violence victims report the offense to the police. Of these, 30 percent proceed to prosecution, 20 percent are adjudicated in court, 12.5 percent are convicted of any sexual offense, and 6.5 percent are convicted of the original offense charged,” wrote Kathleen Daly and Brigitte Bouhours Rape and Attrition in the Legal Process: A Comparative Analysis of Five Countries
Few sexual abuse victims get the justice they deserve. Reasons for this may include a lack of evidence, the accused could not be found, the victim withdrew chargers, or they just don’t come forward about what happened.
Once someone reports a sexual abuse crime such as rape the long process of getting justice begins.
When a sex crime happens and it is immediately reported the victim is taken to a hospital for medical care. They then go to a police station or detectives office to recap all the gruesome details. If the case makes it to trial the victim has to once again recap the events in front of the, sometimes, full courtroom.
This process in it self is hard enough to turn victims away from the decision to report the violation. The fact they they have to continuously repeat what happened to them before getting psychiatric help is damaging. Though it is important to provided adequate evidence and information about the crime the victims mental state needs to be considered first.
Not only is it hard for the victims to report the crime but also it can be hard for people who the victim confided in or someone who witnessed the act.
For example the Penn State scandal, at least two people reportedly witnessed Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator, sexually abuse young boys.
Even though the eye witnesses reported what they saw to someone of higher power no one chose to protect the victims that couldn’t or wouldn’t protect themselves.
In 2008 the rape conviction rate was 25 percent which is significantly less then half of the murder rate, which was 79 percent, this information was provided by CBS news.
This statistic alone is enough to scare any victim away from seeking justice. Murder is seen as a harsher crime than rape but in murder the victim doesn’t have to live with the heinous crime they were subjected to.
In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 20 percent of women answered “yes” to the question “In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?” Thus, one in five college women has been raped at some point in her lifetime, this information was provided by One in Four a non-profit organization. In the same study done for men 4 percent of college men answered “yes.”
This study only provides the information for how many college students say they have been subjected to forceful sexual intercourse. The fact that only a small percentage of them have reported the crime is even scarier.
Sexual abuse victims need to be threated more sensitively during the legal process. The process, as it is now, is discouraging to the many victims out there who are scared to come forward. We all need to remember that the more people who speak out means the more rapists can be put away