It’s hard to believe that anyone would hold an 11 year old girl responsible for a brutal gang rape. Yet this is exactly what Florida Rep. Kathleen Passidomo has done.
At a debate over instituting school dress codes, Passidomo referred to the recent case in Texas where 18 men attacked an 11 year old child, stating: “There was an article about an 11 year old girl who was gangraped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute […] And her parents let her attend school like that. And I think it’s incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn’t happen to our students.” (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/16/republican-lawmaker-blames-11-year-old-victim-of-alleged-gang-rape/)
Tell Passidomo that such dangerous rhetoric has no place in any conversation. Remind her that dress codes don’t stop rape, that rape victims don’t “cause” the violence against them, and that the only ones responsible for rape are the men who do it. Period.
Such language reinforces the long disproven myth that rape victims are responsible for the crimes committed against them. It is dangerous rhetoric that does further violence to the victims of sexual assault while tacitly siding with the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
Dress codes don’t stop rape. Making women cover themselves from head to toe does not stop rape. If you are genuinely concerned about preventing this violent crime against women and girls, please put the responsibility where it belongs—on rapists. Rather than reinforcing the notion that girls should wear “proper attire” to avoid being violently assaulted, I urge you to consider supporting a movement like Men Can Stop Rape (http://www.mencanstoprape.org/), which works with young men to decrease violence against girls and women.
Thank you for your time.