In Seattle, Washington, a 21-year-old woman was soon to testify against the man on trial for raping her as a child. But the person who would be interrogating her and four other victims on the stand was the very man accused of sexually abusing and threatening to kill her. Distraught at the prospect, the young woman made her way to the King County courthouse rooftop and spent three hours threatening to jump.
The majority of rapes go unreported, while even more of them never see prosecution. To force a rape survivor to submit to being interrogated by her assailant builds the barriers to justice too high: the only one benefiting is the rapist, who is again put in a position of power and control over his victim.
The accused rapist, by acting as his own lawyer, is essentially empowered by the legal system to once again traumatize his victim through direct questioning. And this shocking situation is not the first of its kind in the area. In July 2009, less than a year-and-a-half ago, there was another rape case in King County in which the accused attacker was permitted to cross-examine his victim.
It's past time for something to be done about it: how many victims have to be re-traumatized before action is taken?
Earlier this year, a bill failed in the Washington state legislature that would have protected sexual abuse victims from being questioned by their alleged attackers. Too bad many members of the Washington state legislature thinks so little of sexual assault survivors.
To permit the accused rapist to conduct the questioning himself is cruel to the victims and serves no purpose for justice. Any defendant would still receive a fair trial with a court-appointed attorney who could carry out the cross-examination of the victims on his behalf.
Tell Washington legislators to pass a bill protecting rape survivors before the next case puts more women through this ordeal.
Photo credit: bloomsberries