With the recent public outcry against sexual predators in Hollywood, other related incidents are being brought to light related to the treatment of assault victims. One of these very disturbing instances was reported by BBC, where Judge Jean-Paul Braun, who was presiding over a sexual assault case of a 17-year-old girl suggested that the victim was a “little flattered” by the attention she received from her alleged assailant. The female in question rode in a taxi where 49-year-old Carlo Figaro “tried to kiss her, licked her face and groped her.” Braun wasn’t done there, however, and went on to claim the young woman was “overweight” but as he sees it “has a pretty face, huh?”
This is not the first time however he was noted for essentially disqualifying the claims of a victim. In 2013 the judge stated that the verbal harassment and groping of a 19-year-old females breast by a telecom technician was “not the crime of the century.” But Braun is not the only judge to openly harass victims of sexual assault.
The judge went on to question the 19-year-old, who had been raped over a bathroom sink at a house party, why she didn’t press herself down so he couldn’t “penetrate” her. Another outrageous claim of the judge was that young women want to have sex, especially when drinking. After acquitting the accused rapist; CNN’s AJ Willingham and Carma Hassan reported that he warned the male to tell his friends to be careful with females because they are fragile and to be patient with them.
Although both judges in this instance were Canadian it is a global issue of judicial systems siding with rapists or doubting victims. In the U.S. we have had countless instances of assault and rape victims doubted or questioned, especially for drinking. A recent and infamous case was that of the January 2015 Stanford rape by swimmer Brock Turner of an unconscious woman. Again the matter of alcohol consumption was brought up, which is a popular scapegoat for defense attorneys as well as judges. Being as Turner as part of his punishment, only received 6 months of jail time but served only three goes on further to show how the scales are tipped in rape cases. Still, in his case, although he was also intoxicated was treated as more of a victim than the victim herself.
In American culture young women and men are raised to believe that if they are assaulted to tell someone, to tell the police and get help. But in a culture that treats victims questionably, especially when drinking; the chances of victims reporting is low. According to RAINN “Only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported.” Another startling fact is that only “6 out of every 1000, perpetrators will end up in prison,” which is not so shocking considering the comments made by judges presiding over such cases.
With judges, universities, and every other opinion of anti-rape victim based society, women and men are not reporting sexual assault. With the recent Harvey Weinstein allegations it is important we have this conversation now so that our future judges and figures in the judicial system stand up for victims. Its time to say no more to “She had too much to drink; no more “her skirt was too short; no more “she didn’t fight back; no more “why didn’t you keep your legs together?”
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault you can contact RAINN’s (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) national sexual assault hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). You can also online chat here at online.rainn.org. Or for more information regarding what to do, who to contact, or how to get involved you can go to their website: www.rainn.org