Twice victimized

I’m happy to see sexual assault getting more media attention these days, stemming from the Penn State scandal. I can only hope this will continue to snowball – to include family court cases, for example.

The New York Times ran this article and has a follow up next week on the care of victims:

The twice victimized of sexual assault

It is all too easy to see why. More often than not, women who bring charges of sexual assault are victims twice over, treated by the legal system and sometimes by the news media as lying until proved truthful.

“There is no other crime I can think of where the victim is more victimized,” said Rebecca Campbell, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University who for 20 years has been studying what happens legally and medically to women who are raped. “The victim is always on trial. Rape is treated very differently than other felonies.”

So, too, are the victims of lesser sexual assaults. In 1991, when Anita Hill, a lawyer and academic, told Congress that the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her repeatedly when she worked for him, Ms. Hill was vilified as a character assassin and liar acting on behalf of abortion-rights advocates.

Credibility became the issue, too, for Nafissatou Diallo, an immigrant chambermaid who accused the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of forcing her to perform fellatio in a Manhattan hotel room. Prosecutors eventually dropped the case after concluding that Ms. Diallo had lied on her immigration form and about other matters, though not directly about the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn.

When four women, two of whom identified themselves publicly, said they had been sexually harassed by Herman Cain, the Republican presidential hopeful, they, too, were called liars, perhaps hired by his opponents.

Charges of sexual harassment often boil down to “she said-he said” with no tangible evidence of what really took place. But even when there is DNA evidence of a completed sexual act, as there was in the Strauss-Kahn case, the accused commonly claim that the sex was consensual, not a crime.

Canadian Supreme Court rules consent cannot be given when unconscious (duh!)

It’s a sad state of affairs when you need a Supreme Court to tell you an unconscious person can’t give consent!

No consent in unconscious sex case: Supreme Court

A woman cannot give advance consent to sexual activity while unconscious, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday.

The decision restores the conviction of an Ottawa man who regularly practised consensual erotic asphyxiation with his longtime girlfriend.

The case goes back to a particular episode in 2007 when the woman, who cannot be named because of a publication ban, complained to police about what her partner did to her after she passed out. At trial, the man was found guilty of sexual assault but his conviction was overturned on appeal.

On Friday, in a 6-3 decision, the country’s top court restored the conviction. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said consent ends once someone is unconscious or asleep.

“If the complainant is unconscious during the sexual activity, she has no real way of knowing what happened and whether her partner exceeded the bounds of her consent,” the ruling said.

Here’s a dissenting viewpoint:

“The approach advocated by the Chief Justice would also result in the criminalization of a broad range of conduct that Parliament cannot have intended to capture in its definition of the offense of sexual assault. Notably, it would criminalize kissing or caressing a sleeping partner, however gently and affectionately.”

Sounds like they’re protecting male entitlement. I hardly doubt any rational woman would run to court to press charges against her partner for kissing or caressing her. And if a person is not suppose to be kissing, caressing, or anything else- well, it should be a human right to seek protection from somebody doing something against our will.

Feminist debate on allegations against Julian Assange on Democracy Now

Great debate on Democracy Now between Jaclyn Friedman of WAM and Naomi Wolf, author. Apparently, Wolf doesn’t have much sympathy for rape that is ambiguous. And, she believes consent can include someone giving in to repetitive pleas or having sex while asleep. Some advocate.

Democracy Now