4 Ugly Signs That Rapists Are Getting Their Rights Back

News & Politics

So far, 2017 has been a good year for rapists. There was a time not so long ago when women had no rights or platform to speak up about the sexual violence they experienced. After some slow progress by women’s advocates, activists and progressive politicians to publicize and document the alarming frequency of sexual assault cases, dangerous new developments are setting the country back. Brock Turner’s case showed us how sympathetic the American public and mainstream media can be toward rapists, and how lightly the justice system punishes white, privileged men for their crimes. Now, prominent members of government like Candice E. Jackson, the Department of Education’s top civil rights official, can freely say to the New York Times that “90 percent" of sexual assault accusations are false or exaggerated, with no scientific backing for such claims.  

All four of these recent shifts don’t bode well for women.

1. Rapists in multiple states get to be part of their children's lives.

In April of this year, a bill that would have protected rape survivors from sharing custody of children with their rapists failed—for the ninth time—to pass Maryland’s legislature. Seven states still have no laws protecting women from this traumatic situation.

2. Bill Cosby still faces no consequences for his crimes and is becoming a poster child for the wrongfully accused.

A mistrial saved him from any jail time or other consequences, and now 60-time accused rapist Bill Cosby plans to help "educate” male students on how to avoid rape accusations, because, as his spokesperson said, “they need to know what they’re facing when they’re hanging out and partying.” It’s a twisted PR move that will only further discourage sexual assault victims from speaking out.

3. Betsy DeVos successfully campaigned to defend accused rapists on campus.

DeVos last month rescinded the Title IX campus sexual assault guidance, authored by the Obama administration, that notified universities of their legal requirement to report sexual assault. An estimated 19% of college-age women have suffered sexual assault or attempts at it, or only 12% of those cases ever get reported.

The Trump team’s determination to revoke all the good done by Obama’s two terms seems to have no end. And on that note:

4. The White House website removed its page on sexual assault.

Just as pages on LGBT rights, climate change and animal welfare were taken down after Trump’s win, the new administration removed a significant study titled “Rape And Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call To Action” that was published in 2014. As Know Your IX founder and attorney Alexandra Brodsky told the Huffington Post, “This is a summary of really important, and in some cases, government-funded work that was done to understand the causes and effects of sexual and gender violence. What does it mean that the Trump administration doesn’t want the public to have that information?”

It means that the safety and rights of those who suffer rape and sexual assault don’t matter much in the worldview of our president.

These are signs of the times. Some can be blamed on Trump’s administration and the GOP establishment that’s been working to disenfranchise women for years. The moves can also be tracked to the '80s-era resurgence of Christian morality, which clamped down on progress made by the second wave of feminism to revert back to a time when white men had it all, and got to eat their cake, too. Regardless of the cause, the results are scary. 

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