Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rape ‘em and lock ‘em up

Lock 'em up
Image by gwaddell via morgueFile

The latest violation of human rights that caught my eye happened up in Minnesota.  An 89-year-old woman in a nursing home was raped by one of the male “caregivers.”  That, in and of itself, is pretty fucking evil.  The guy was 30, and he overpowered and raped a woman old enough to be his grandmother.  Unfortunately, that isn’t even the worst part of this story.

The woman told her daughter the next morning; her daughter told the police. 

That’s when it got even worse.

The victim (referred to as the survivor in the news article)  was taken to a locked psych ward and held there for three days.  The nurse examiner declared that the room “was dark and cold … and they locked her in at night and all she had was a blanket.” 

This happened, by the way, to determine whether or not she’d been raped.  Not that they ran a rape kit or did a physical exam.  And not that the rapist hadn’t already admitted (the day her daughter called the police) to the police that he had, in fact, had sex with her. 

It took three days of confinement before they finally examined her, and then, the nurse examiner said, “the laceration that resulted from the rape was the “biggest tear” she had ever seen in her six years of work in the field.”

So why did they lock her up in a psych ward?  Why did they ignore her claim?  Oh, the administration of the nursing home claimed that they thought the sex was consensual.  Because, you know, the administration is all knowing, far more than the woman herself who was raped.

And the sad thing is that this was not the first or only time that a victim was locked up.

Literally three days later (Feb 21 – Feb 24), a Washington (state, not D.C.) woman who had been kidnapped and raped was kidnapped by the legal system.  Okay, maybe they didn’t phrase it quite that way, but they arrested her.  The victim.  Because she wasn’t showing up to all her pre-trial meetings with prosecutors. 

Yes, the victim was re-victimized, this time by the state, because she wasn’t overly eager to be part of the case.  Well, let’s be honest here – most victims of kidnappings and rapes aren’t exactly eager to face their accusers in court.  What’s awesome is that she has not been charged with any crime, but they’re holding her to force her to testify. 

Wait, let’s go over that one again.

They are kidnapping a woman to force her to talk about a kidnapping.  They are forcing her to talk about what happened to her.

I won’t argue that the case needs to be tried.  I won’t argue that they need testimony to get the case through.  But I will argue that perhaps, just perhaps, there might be a better way to handle the situation.  Like maybe one that includes support instead of a prison cell.

I think we need to start treating our women – and our victims – like they are victims.  We need to stop making abuse worse.  We need to start helping people heal instead of causing more damage.  And we need to do it now.  Not tomorrow.  Not next week.  Not in the next election.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hey, as long as it’s in the family…

Open your eyes
Open your eyes
(image by LukeDavison via morgueFile)

Outrage! Shock! Horror!  And totally dismissal.  Because while a now 52-year-old man kept a developmentally disabled woman captive for 14 years in his back yard, using her as a sex slave and abusing her, it’s all cool because, you know, she’s family.

Yeah, that’s right.  Not a problem.  Not a big deal.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  The total and complete waste of human life is going to serve 22 years in prison.  (Will he really, though?  Or will he get out early for “good behavior”?) 

The big deal here, the truly horrific part, is that the woman escaped in 2012.  Yes, two years ago.  Two years!  But the authorities never said anything to the public because, well, according to the chief of police, “…we did not release any information up to this point about the case because the crime was perpetrated within the family by a very close family member…there was no reason to believe there were any non-family members who had been victimized…”   

So, yeah, he did horrible horrible things to a woman who couldn’t fight back for over a decade, but since she was family, it’s not worth mentioning.  Now, the chief did also say that the victim was “…very fragile and we did not want to jeopardize her welfare or the case in any way.” 

The woman was 13 when her relative took her in 1998.  For all that time, he kept her in a shed in the backyard.  She did not attend school, and he did landscaping work with her in the backyard.  A neighbor said that she thought something wasn’t right, but apparently, she didn’t bother mentioning it.  And the other relatives also apparently didn’t notice something wrong with her vanishing, but, the article mentions, one of them picked her up.  So how did she contact this relative?  Did this relative know and not do anything about it?  Or did they suspect but not act?

The plea deal that is getting him 22 years, by the way?  Yeah, he’s pleading guilty to “one count of forced lewd acts on a child and two counts of forcible rape.”  Yes, three counts of crimes that spanned fourteen years of this woman’s life.

This article reminds me of something I read many years ago by a wonderful crusader and author named Andrew Vacchs.  Back in 2005, he published an op-ed about how easy it was for family members to get away with incest.  At that time, sex with a child under age 11 was up to 25 years in prison.  Unless, of course, it was a family member.  Because then it’s just a class E felony, one that is considered “an offense affecting the marital relationship” and the person who commits the crime (yes, raping a child falls into this), they can just get probation.  Because incest, you see, is considered a “nonviolent crime.”  I shit you not.  A non-violent crime.

Why is it that we are so quick to forgive people who commit atrocious acts on their own relatives?  Their children?  Their nieces and nephews?  Their grandchildren?  Why do we think this is okay?  Because, really, if we didn’t think it was okay, then these crimes wouldn’t be so easily hidden and swept under the rug.  These rulings wouldn’t happen. 

We need to know about these things, and we need to do something about them.  Me?  I’ve applied to be a child advocate. 

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”