Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Report a Rape and...Get Your OWN Name Added to the Sex Offender Registry?!?

I just read an intriguing story over on Feministing involving the Air Force and the fallout from an alleged rape. Too lazy to click over? Here's the low down:

A young woman in the Air Force reports a gang rape by three fellow airmen. She gets a medical examination, counselling, harsh interrogations without representation, and threatening late night phone calls. She decides to drop the charges. I don't study sexual assault, so I don't know that statistics or anything. A cursory web search shows that anywhere between 2-50 percent of all rape allegations are eventually classified as false. Does that include all rape charges that are later simply withdrawn, though? This strikes me as one crime in which the victim is much more likely to later recant their story with a false statement of false rape. We do know that she did, at the least, get drunk and have sex with the men.

Because she was engaging in some underage drinking, and the rape kit proves there was "indecent" intercourse (and the lack of a rape conviction or lasting accusation legally implies consent, right?), the Air Force has seen fit to charge the woman with a few crimes of her own. Namely, underage drinking and indecent sexual acts (three men at once? clearly immoral!).

Here's the kicker: they are reportedly able to stick her with these charges since they offered the three men immunity in exchange for their testimony. This is particularly deplorable if this woman was raped. She really could end up on the sex offender registry for being raped. This is execrable even if she wasn't. Why on Earth would the Air Force need the testimony of all three men involved--especially if there's hard evidence of the encounter via rape kit??? The woman gets punished, the men don't. For an act that quite possibly was much more their doing than hers.

If the Air Force didn't believe her story, then why aren't they charging her with making a false allegation? Isn't that also a crime? Or am I wrong? It seems to me like they're trying to send a message. The question is, what message are they trying to send?


Drek said...

I wish I could say that I'm surprised by this but... not so much. Have you ever read Susan Brownmiller's "Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape"? It's not scientific by any stretch, but quite interesting.

As a side issue: Are you planning on dropping by the ASA blogger's shindig? I understand if not (I definitely understand wanting to protect one's identity) but we're really a pretty nice group of people. If nothing else, there are usually enough female bloggers there that you could probably lose yourself in the crowd.

anomie said...

I have not read the book; I shall have to check it out.

And I have tentative plans of going to the shindig. It all rests on whether my plane gets in on time and I work up the nerve to walk up to a group of people I've never met and introduce myself...