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73-Year-Old Woman Raped and Beaten for Daring to Photograph Public Masturbator

There's a price for sticking your neck out on harassment: the risk that the situation will escalate.

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And that’s what I worry about, because there’s no guarantee, when someone speaks up, that a bystander will back the victim up. In fact, there’s pretty ample precedent indicating that the opposite is true; the bystander effect, as it’s known, explains why things like the Kitty Genovese murder happen. Women can be murdered in crowded areas, screaming for help, with multiple witnesses, while no one lifts a finger, not even to call the police.

This woman was raped because she dared to confront a harasser. She’s a park regular who goes there to go birding and take photographs, and she’s known by staff at the park. She has a favorite bench. She sounds like a nice, civic-minded person who just wants to be able to enjoy the park without willy-wavers, and she paid a high price for standing up against harassment.

Moms, there’s already a lot of speculation swirling around you, making this your fault somehow. You should have done this, you should have done that, why didn’t you report the first incident to the police, etc.

So I want you to know this: I am so sorry this happened to you. I am so angry this happened to you. This is not your fault. You did a right and good and brave and bold thing when you documented your harassment and I salute you for that. I hope they catch this guy, and I hope you make him squirm at the trial.

s.e. smith is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Bitch, Feministe, Global Comment, the Sun Herald, the Guardian, and other publications. Follow smith on Twitter: @sesmithwrites.
 
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