The Uproar

It’s Not Their Fault

When sexual assault leads to victim-blaming, justice is doubly disgraced

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It’s Not Their Fault

illustration by Melina Bowser

illustration by Melina Bowser

illustration by Melina Bowser

Carli Leonard, Reporter

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In the summer of 2008, a 13-year-old girl attended an annual fair in Canada with one of her friends. An employee approached the young girls and took them to a vehicle in the staff area, where he urged the girls to drink alcohol.  The one girl later reported that she was sexually assaulted shortly before losing consciousness.  Police investigated, but no charges ensued — despite the fact that a hospital exam demonstrated evidence of sexual assault.

Now, a woman in her 20’s, she recently sued both the organization who hosted the event and the organization that produced it. The organizations defended themselves in court by claiming negligence. They argued that the victim was negligent for “failing to take reasonable care of her own safety and for drinking excessively.” Later, they retracted this claim and stated that “victims should never be blamed for sexual assault.”

That retraction is telling.  All too often, our first reaction is to blame the victim.

Perhaps because of victim-blaming, when a female does absolutely nothing wrong, she is often afraid to speak up when she is sexually assaulted. Every victim’s feelings towards this question may be different, and that is understandable. Additionally, in not every sexual assault case is the girl the victim.  But in our culture, all too often the focus is on what the girl was wearing or how she was acting.

To complicate matters, it’s increasingly common to hear that when a girl comes forward with allegations her motivation is that she wants something out of it (attention or money, for example). But honestly, why would any female victim feel comfortable coming forward?

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center states, “Rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police” and “more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.”

That, right there, is a problem we need to fix immediately. The mentality needs to switch to never, ever thinking that women are at fault right out of the gate.

All women have the right to wear what they choose.  And no matter how much skin they choose to show, that should never be a reason for a man to do something inappropriate, disrespectful, and possibly harmful. If two girls are standing in the same public place with varying degrees of skin showing, they both have equal right to not be forced into an uncomfortable situation by a guy who is advancing his own agenda. When a female comes forward and says she was sexually assaulted, the question should not even once be asked if she was intoxicated or if she was wearing “revealing” clothing.

Critics may argue that if a woman wants to reduce the chances of being assaulted, she should “just cover up.” Frankly, that attitude infuriates me. It is not a woman’s obligation to wear clothes that may lessen the likelihood of assault. Instead, it is a man’s job to, I don’t know, maybe just not be a horrible person and not assault a female.

Women should never have to choose their outfit based on the fact that they are worried a guy will think to take things too far. Girls should never have to hold themselves back from having fun just because they are scared a guy will think they are an easier target. Girls should never change the way they want to live their lives because they don’t want to be accused of putting themselves in a bad situation.

Our society needs to change the conversation. We need to address the problem. It is time to fight for the rights every woman deserves .

About the Writer
Carli Leonard, Reporter

Junior Carli Leonard is excited to be on the Uproar staff this year. Carli is a captain of the Tiger Thon committee and enjoys working with kids, writing,...

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It’s Not Their Fault