Sunday, August 19, 2012

Troubling article trivializes the community of the wrongly accused

A troubling article trivializes the false rape problem: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/08/19/4190561/in-tarrant-county-acquaintance.html

Our comment:

It is well to point out injustices to women who likely were raped and to encourage rape victims to come forward without fear of stigmatization. But your article manifests a problematic “rush to judgment” bias that treats every rape accuser as a victim, and that blinks at the problems faced by the community of the wrongly accused. Throughout your article, you repeatedly label accusers as “victims,” which does a grave disservice to the presumptively innocent who are accused of such crimes since, by necessity, they must be guilty if their accusers are, in fact, "victims."

Regardless of how prevalent false rape claims are, there have been numerous instances of shocking injustice suffered by persons falsely and otherwise wrongly accused of rape, and their plight does not deserve to be trivialized. Moreover, the assertion that less than ten percent of all rape claims are “false” would represent a staggering number in itself, but the statistic is disingenuous without an explanation. As a leading feminist legal scholar has acknowledged: ". . . the statistics on false rape accusation widely vary and 'as a scientific matter, the frequency of false rape complaints to police or other legal authorities remains unknown.'" A. Gruber, Rape, Feminism, and the War on Crime, 84 Wash. L. Rev. 581, 595-600 (November 2009) (citation omitted). Why so much uncertainty? Because in between the claims we are reasonably certain were actual rapes, and the ones we are reasonably certain were false claims, lies a vast gray area consisting of the majority of the claims that can neither be classified as "rapes" or as non-rapes -- because we just don't know. So if you insist on pointing out that only 10 percent of all claims are “false,” you need also to state that of the 90 percent of remaining claims, the majority simply can’t be classified as actual rapes or false claims.

It is bewildering that you deem it necessary to trivialize a serious problem just to make the point that another problem is also serious. Why can't we all advocate for all victims?