Friday, September 16, 2011

A Call for Social Amnesty

Too often we're quick to chide victims of rape for putting themselves in unsafe situations. "She should have known better," people remark. Believe me, I'm sure she knows that too. Hindsight is 20/20, and after being a victim of sexual assault, it's common for the victim to kick herself for every decision she made that night that may or may not have led to her assault. I shouldn't have gone to that party, I shouldn't have hung out with that guy, I shouldn't have gone to his apartment, I should have gone home instead of crash at his place, I shouldn't have worn that top, I shouldn't have worn those panties, I shouldn't have accepted those drinks, I shouldn't have danced like that, the list goes on and on. She doesn't need a slap on the wrist, she's already slapping herself.

A rape victim doesn't need to be scolded for her decisions. It's unnecessary and makes her feel worse about what has happened to her. Because of this, I propose social amnesty for rape victims. What does that mean? Think about it as similar to a university's medical amnesty policy. Usually if a student is caught violating the alcohol policy, he or she gets in trouble. However, if that student seeks medical attention in the case of extreme intoxication, that student as well as those with them at the time do not get in trouble. This is to make sure that people who are really sick get the medical attention they need. Similarly, social amnesty means that if a woman is raped, any "stupid" decision she made that night - any decision that, had nothing happened her, might have warranted a scolding of "are you stupid?? never do that again, you could have been raped!!" - is overlooked and her peers focus instead on making sure she gets the help and support she needs - support she may not even try to seek out if she's afraid people will blame her for what happened, or afraid of getting in trouble with her friends and family for putting herself in that situation.

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