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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

While our legal system is centered on the premise of the common phrase “Innocent until proven guilty”, that is sadly not the reality for victims of sexual assault. A recent article in The Huffington Post brings to mind the reoccurring fact in our society that victims of sexual assault are blamed for their experience, or were “asking for it”, another phrase known all too well.

For victims of sexual violence, even as horrific as the gang rape of an 11-year old girl by 18 young men and boys (if they can even be called that), it is “guilty until proven innocent”. Somehow blaming a girl for sexual assault, in a state where the age of consent for sexual activity, any type of sexual activity, is 17, makes more sense to members of our communities and even the mainstream media than loudly and confidently condemning the inhumane act of rape and blaming the perpetrators.

And in a similar way that society treats individuals who were accused of a crime but later found “not guilty”, victims of rape are still often treated as “guilty” even while their perpetrators are convicted and behind bars.

Keith Bradley

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