In the past, there have been several rape cases where the victim has been blamed for her actions. People have even said that it was the victims fault: she was dressed inappropriately or she was...

 In the past, there have been several rape cases where the victim has been blamed for her actions. People have even said that it was the victims fault: she was dressed inappropriately or she was promiscuous, among other things. Additionally, on a number of occasions, rapists have not been charged due to insufficient evidence. In that light, do you think women are treated properly during rape investigations? In short, are rape cases handled appropriately by the US Criminal Justice system? If possible, could you point out a specific rape case by providing two news articles which target the story from different viewpoints: one saying the women is to blame and the other saying the man is to blame. 

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say that this question calls for an opinion that none of us is really qualified to give.  In fact, it seems unlikely that anyone can credibly and conclusively say whether “women are treated properly during rape investigations.”  This is because each case has its own issues and because there can be different opinions as to what “properly” means.

The problem with rape is that it is a very difficult crime to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  By its nature, rape is a crime usually conducted in private which means that there will not be any witnesses.  In addition, many rapes occur in situations in which there is at least the possibility that the sexual contact was consensual.  These factors make it very hard to prove rape before a jury.

In the relatively distant past, it was more likely that a woman could be accused of bringing on rape when the sex was clearly nonconsensual.  Today, we do not hear this idea very much.  Instead, what we tend to hear is arguments over whether the sex was consensual.  The controversial rape cases are those in which it is not completely clear whether the woman consented.  The Kobe Bryant case from about 10 years ago is one example of a situation in which the man argued that the sex was consensual while the woman said that some contact between them was consensual but the sex was not.

I would argue that women are generally treated decently by most parts of the criminal justice system.  However, they will often feel that they are not treated fairly.  The reason for this is that the people in the criminal justice system will typically have different goals than the alleged victim.  The victim will want to be vindicated and to have her assailant convicted.  The police and the prosecutors will be more interested in finding out whether they have a case that will stand up before a jury.  The defense attorneys will be concerned with doing anything they legally can to make the jury feel that the sex could possibly have been consensual.

What this means is that police and prosecutors will have to ask questions in which they seem to doubt the woman’s word.  They have to ask her questions that might be asked of her on the stand.  They have to determine whether her testimony is likely to survive being scrutinized by a jury.  This will often seem heartless and hostile to the woman who feels that she has been raped.  However, it is in my view an unavoidable aspect of the criminal justice process.

My view, then, is that women are generally treated fairly by the system.  This comes, however, with two large caveats.  First, this is only my opinion since I have not done an exhaustive study of a representative sample of rape cases.  Only someone who has done so can have an opinion that has a truly solid basis in fact.  Second, many women will feel that the system does not treat them fairly because it cannot simply take their word that they were raped.  Instead, it treats their claims with some skepticism and therefore can make them feel victimized for a second time.

rachellopez | Student

This is just my opinion, but I think it is unfair to say the victim of a rape case is to blame. It does not matter if a women was wearing certain clothing (women should be allowed to be proud of the way they look without having to worry about others) and it shouldn't matter if they were being flirty. If it was not mutual and the women clearly said no, then she is not to blame. Now obviously there are certain circumstances that could change things and sometimes women aren't even the victims, but in the majority of cases we hear about, these things apply.

A lot of the headlines that come up on Google are about rapes which occur in schools, and how that is often when a victim is blamed because rape in a school is "not as common". The court can't just take their word for it and say the perpetrators are guilty, I understand that. However, to straight up say they are lying and to gain up on a victim is horrible, especially if there is evidence. I could probably go on about this all day, but instead I'll link below some cases that talk about victims being blamed. I wouldn't say women are treated unfairly in court in all cases, but it may seem unfair at times when they ask for complete evidence. Some cases though are truly unfair.