Victim Blaming

Posted: September 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

I just read an article in the news about a 13 year old girl who was sexually assaulted (I would define what they’ve described as rape) when she attended a carnival.

All I know is the information presented in the article, so this post is only based on that and the ideas and issues it raises.

The assault happened 10 years ago, and the girl is now suing the carnival management and the venue owners.

What is described is the girl and a friend went to the carnival, met a man who obtained alcohol for them and they all drank together in a semi-truck.  The girl began to feel ill, went to lay down in the bunk, was found in a ditch and taken to hospital with alcohol poisoning and tests showed she had been sexually assaulted.  No charges were laid due to “insufficient evidence”. The man has since died.

The part of the article that has prompted me to write this is response from the carnival management company, North American Midway Entertainment-Canada Co, and the venue owner, Northlands, to her suit. They claim the assault is due to the girl’s own negligence and failing to ensure her own safety.

It is NOT this girls fault, she was not responsible for being assaulted. She was not negligent.

Such a statement is appalling!  This kind of offensive defence of blaming the victim, of pointing out all of the problems with the victim is exactly the reason why victims don’t come forward.  This kind of argument HAS to stop.

The victim is never responsible for being sexually assaulted. No matter what they are wearing, no matter what they are doing. The person who takes advantage of a someone in a compromised situation, even if that someone put themselves in that compromised situation, is responsible for their actions.

The issue raised by the law suit is – Is the carnival management company or the venue owner responsible?

If there are laws, regulations, bylaws that the carnival management and venue owners were supposed to enforce to ensure the safety of they patrons and they did not uphold them, then there is responsibility there.  If they did uphold them or if there are no laws, regulations or bylaws, then I am unsure that legal responsibility (as opposed to moral responsibility) can be laid at their feet.

Either they did what they were required to do, or they did not.

THAT is the only reasonable defence.

What the victim did or what activities she engaged in, really has nothing to do with whether or not the management company or the venue owners did what they were required to do.

The only outcome of their current defence is to perpetuate the myth of victim blaming.

Then I think of the victim going through this suit.  Just hearing that statement from her lawyers would be devastating.  I don’t want even one of her braincells holding any doubt about her responsibility.  Ever.  Then I think about the trial. Going through everything in gory detail would be bad enough, but then I think about the defence attacking her character, her behaviour before and after the assault, trying to convince the jury or the judge that she is bad or flawed in some way and brought this on herself.  I want to grab this young woman and wrap myself around her to prevent any of those words ever touching her.

I do not have complete faith in our judicial system.  Recently a judge in Canada actually said to an assault vicim during a trial “Why didn’t you just keep your knees together?”  I know that not all judges are like this, but I am not certain the system will protect this girl.

I worry about the outcome of this trial.  If the management company and venue are found not guilty based on the judgement that they did what they were required to do, the  message will still be out there – they were not guilty because it was the girl’s negligence.

That is NOT acceptable.

 

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