According to Massachusetts State Representative Ryan Fattman, undocumented victims who are raped “should be afraid to come forward” and report their rape because of their immigration status. Fattman reported the following comments to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette:
"My thought is that if someone is here illegally, they should be afraid to come forward," Mr. Fattman said. "If you do it the right way, you don't have to be concerned about these things," he stated, referring to obtaining legal immigration status.
Representative Fattman's appalling assertion sends a chilling message to all rape survivors that their circumstances could -- and even should -- prohibit them from seeking help. Rape is already the most under-reported crime, in large part because victims are afraid of being put under the microscope if they report their rape.
We call on Representative Fattman to apologize for his comments and ask his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Legislature to hold him accountable for claiming certain individuals who are raped don't deserve help.
We also call on the Massachusetts State Legislature - to publicly denounce Rep. Fattman's comments and send a message that there are never any circumstances in which a victim should be afraid to come forward about being raped.
This action is endorsed by New Hope, Rape Crisis Center of Central MA and Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
- State Representative
We trust that you are as appalled as we are by State Representative Ryan Fattman's recent assertion that immigrant victims who are raped "should be afraid to come forward" to authorities because of their immigration status. We implore Fattman to apologize for this outrageous comment, and we are calling on Rep. Fattman's colleagues in the State Legislature to hold him accountable for making it harder and more frightening for Massachusetts citizens to report being raped.
Governor Patrick recently announced that the state of Massachusetts will not participate in the controversial “Secure Communities” program, which entangles local police in immigration matters. In response, Rep. Fattman allegedly told a local paper that an immigrant victim who had been raped "should be afraid to come forward." Rape is already an under-reported crime and Fattman's statement sends a message to all victims that there are circumstances under which they could, and even should, be denied justice.
While immigration is a complicated issue, the issue at hand, of whether victims should be afraid to report a crime, is not. Making victims afraid to report crimes puts entire communities at risk. Telling a victim that she or he should keep quiet is simply wrong. This message must be sent loud and clear, to counteract the harm in the comments that Rep. Fattman is reported to have made.
We are asking the Massachusetts State Legislature to publicly denounce Representative Fattman's alleged statements, that Fattman's colleagues in the Legislature hold him accountable, and for Rep. Fattman to apologize immediately.
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