Rape Reports Hit Two-Decade Low

[Trigger warning.]

Shaker Koach emails about USA Today's front-paged article, "Reported rapes hit 20-year low (which I post with her permission):
That seems like good news. The actual reporting, however, certainly leaves a lot to be desired:
Rape prosecutions have improved dramatically over the past two decades because of advances in DNA testing to pinpoint a rapist rather than forcing prosecutors to rely solely on a victim's identification of her attacker, says Kim Gandy, past president of the National Organization for Women and a former prosecutor.
Oh yes, god forbid we have to rely on the testimony of a victim, of a woman. No wonder conviction rates were so low! Thank god we have rational science now instead of hysterical, over-accusing women!
The emphasis on DNA evidence is indeed disheartening, particularly when coupled with claims like this:
"You don't see the nightmarish trials of the 1960s where a woman's reputation would be brought into question and people would conclude she deserved it," [Michael Males, senior researcher for the Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice in San Francisco] says.
Excuse me?! I can't even imagine the number of posts I've written about victim-blaming in the media and during rape trials over the last five years, no less the posts about rape survivors being threatened with prosecution or threatened with contempt of court. Males is living on another planet if he thinks women's reputations—along with what they were wearing, how they were wearing it, how they were carrying themselves, where they were, when they were there, why they were there, with whom they were there, what they were doing, why they were doing it, with whom they were doing it, what they were drinking, how much they were drinking, whether they made eye contact, whether they talked, whether they flirted, whether they danced, whether they spoke, whether they breathed, and every other conceivable question designed to tease out how being raped is YOUR fault—doesn't happen anymore. It sure as shit does, brootha.

Meanwhile, at the top of the associated content ("You might be interested in") box at the end of this article, linking to related stories, is this—1-year rape sentence raises concerns:
Two state lawmakers are questioning a plea agreement that will allow a man to serve only one year in jail on a conviction for raping a 4-year-old girl.

Nineteen of the 20 years of a sentence against 64-year-old David Harold Earls were suspended as part of a plea agreement reached with Pittsburg County prosecutors.

…District Attorney Jim Bob Miller says prosecutors did not have any DNA evidence and determined after two days of working with Earls' accuser that the girl — who is now 5 years old — was not able to testify.

"She was not mature enough or able to sit still long enough," Miller said. "We had a real risk of losing at trial and him walking out scot-free."
Which only underlines the point that lower reported rapes is a small part of the vast, ugly picture that is the rape culture.

I guess fake, or incomplete, good news about rape is great front-page news, though. Especially if you leave out of it any examination of whether increasing emphasis on physical evidence as a requisite for a prosecution can be a strong deterrent to victims of rape with nothing but their word and will and longing for justice.

[I encourage every survivor of sexual assault to report any and all crimes against them, irrespective of the presence of physical evidence, if they feel comfortable and safe doing so. If you are discouraged by police or prosecutors, I will be happy to help you try to locate a victim's advocate in your area.]

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