Apparently, in Georgia, it’s not enough that women aren’t to be trusted to make our own medical and health decisions without government intrusion. Now, we’re not to be trusted when it comes to reporting crimes, either.
Republican State Rep. Bobby Franklin, of Georgia, has introduced H.B. 14 which mandates that rape victims, victims of stalking or harassment, or victims of family violence may no longer be classified as “victims” but as “accusers.” According to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, Franklin’s bill would,
change the state’s criminal codes so that in “criminal law and criminal procedure” (read: in court), victims of rape, stalking, and family violence could only be referred to as “accusers” until the defendant has been convicted.
To read the bill itself is like one long assault on women’s autonomy and capacity as thinking human beings. Each time the word “victim” is crossed out in favor of “accuser,” it’s another slap in the face to justice. Franklin’s utterly misogynistic, hateful bill tells victims that regardless of what they’ve experienced, those experiences aren’t valid and they’re not to be believed until our justice system deems it so.
Again from the DLCC:
Burglary victims are still victims. Assault victims are still victims. Fraud victims are still victims. But if you have the misfortune to suffer a rape, or if you are beaten by a domestic partner, or if you are stalked, Rep. Franklin doesn’t think you’ve been victimized. He says you’re an accuser until the courts have determined otherwise.
Rep. Franklin may be insensitive and clueless but it’s doubtful he doesn’t know that women are much more more likely to be victims of stalking, rape and other forms of violence in this country. The Family Violence Prevention Fund catalogues the statistics:
- On average more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States. In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner.2
- In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published data collected in 2005 that finds that women experience two million injuries from intimate partner violence each year.3
- Nearly one in four women in the United States reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life.4
- Women are much more likely than men to be victimized by a current or former intimate partner.5 Women are 84 percent of spouse abuse victims and 86 percent of victims of abuse at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend and about three-fourths of the persons who commit family violence are male.6
- There were 248,300 rapes/sexual assaults in the United States in 2007, more than 500 per day, up from 190,600 in 2005. Women were more likely than men to be victims; the rate for rape/sexual assault for persons age 12 or older in 2007 was 1.8 per 1,000 for females and 0.1 per 1,000 for males.7
- The United States Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 3.4 million persons said they were victims of stalking during a 12-month period in 2005 and 2006. Women experience 20 stalking victimizations per 1,000 females age 18 and older, while men experience approximately seven stalking victimizations per 1,000 males age 18 and older.8
Rape is a significantly underreported crime already, according to the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. To be classified, off the bat, as an accuser instead of as a victim places one more barrier to reporting the crime to the authorities,
Only 16% of rapes are ever reported to the police. In a survey of victims who did not report rape or attempted rape to the police, the following was found as to why no report was made: 43% thought nothing could be done, 27% felt it was a private matter, 12% were afraid of police
response, and 12% felt it was not important enough.
And, for what it’s worth, Rep. Franklin, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, your state ranks 11th out of the 50 states and Washington DC, for incidences of forcible rape. You might want to focus on how to best protect those who live in your state – including young people, who are the most likely to be victims of sexual assault and rape – rather than protecting the “accused.”