Thursday, June 21, 2007

NEBRASKA JUDGE BANS THE WORD "RAPE" FROM SEXUAL ASSAULT TRIAL

Slate.com reports that a Nebraska district judge granted a motion by defense attorneys to bar the use of the words “rape”, “sexual assault”, “victim”, “assailant”, and “sexual assault kit” from the trial of Pamir Safi - accused of raping Tory Bowen in October 2004.

Dahlia Lithwick writes, “The result is that the defense and the prosecution are both left to use the same word—‘sex’ - to describe either forcible sexual assault, or benign consensual intercourse. As for the jurors, they'll just have to read the witnesses' eyebrows to sort out the difference."

Go to Slates's wesite to read the article. Do you agree or disagree? Share

2 comments:

  1. The world of popular culture frequently blurs the differences between sex and rape. You would think that in the world of the courtroom, a place that depends on fine tuned distinctions related to the letter of the law, a judge perfoming his job would recognize the absolute need for the right to make distinctions between the two. Perhaps he is a rabid consumer of popular culture.

    Pat

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  2. Laura the Intern1:29 PM

    Rape is one of the most underreported crimes. Many survivors are reluctant to share their experiences out of shame or fear of being disbelieved or, worse yet, fear of being blamed for what happened to them. In light of the challenges that rape survivors already face in telling their stories, it is appalling that Judge Cheuvront would further silence them by depriving them of the simplest, most direct word for what they went through. This is yet another example of how our society puts rape complainants on trial rather than the alleged perpetrators. This sends the message that speaking out against rape is worse than actually raping someone.

    The paternalistic thinking that the Judge employs in assuming that jury-members -- that is, ordinary American adults -- are incapable of reasoning beyond their knee-jerk emotional reactions to the word "rape" intersects nicely with his implicit endorsement of our contemporary "rape culture." How can we ever move towards a more egalitarian society based on mutual respect between individuals, rather than hierarchies of dominance and submission, if we cannot even share our personal stories with each other because of some authority figure's anxieties about what people can and cannot handle?

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