Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, were found guilty last weekend of raping a 16-year-old girl. The case gained worldwide attention and became known as the Steubenville, Ohio rape case. Mays was also found guilty of disseminating a nude photo of a minor.
The crime? Rape. The sentence? For Mays, a minimum of two years in a juvenile correctional facility. For Richmond, a minimum of one year; however both could be in detention until they are age 21. And many, like myself are outraged; for the punishment does not fit the crime. And although the assailants are juveniles, this was not the maximum sentence they could have received under the law. And of course, many questioned why they weren't tried as adults.
But I'm not surprised. We as a society, do not deter rapists. Only 1 in 10 rapes is reported. That means that the assailants in at least 90 percent of the rapes in our society still live and walk among us; free to rape again.
Another reason I'm not surprised, is our attitude not only towards rape, but towards the victims of this terrible crime. In this case in Steubenville, the rapists actually felt they hadn't raped their victim because she didn't verbally say no. (She was unconscious!) And they not only bragged about their crime; they took photos about it on their mobile phones , took videos and sent lurid text messages as well as posted on social media sites the terrible sexual abuse, the rape of that 16-year-old girl.
Remember the woman in Florida years back, who the defense argued was "asking for it" because the skirt she was wearing was so short? And in this case, how some media outlets, like CNN, made the rapists look like victims when they were found guilty?
We have to ask ourselves as a society, why are we keeping more rapists on the street? And we need to look at the facts. The victims are victimized over and over and over again. First, with the crime, the rape. Second, on the witness stand (if they report it and it makes it trial) and lastly, by not being believed.
I know this all too well. I made a decision, which was very difficult by the way, to share the fact I had been the victim of rape in a recent television appearance. Less than 24 hours later, a blog was written questioning whether I had actually been the victim of rape. And, it was written by a woman (and her male research assistant has a daughter).
What I don't understand is that, in 2013, why women are still so disrespected by both genders? Why don't men want to protect some of those they cherish most? Their mothers, their sisters, wives or daughters?
The reason so many women suffer in silence and choose not to report their crime is they fear not being believed; they fear this victimization over and over again. And as a society, until we change our attitude toward rape victims and sentence those rapists to harsher time; we are only enabling rapists and inviting them to rape again.
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