Failed by the justice system – turn to YouTube?

// 15 May 2008

This is worrying, but not surprising. Think Girl calls attention to a video posted on YouTube – and picked up by CNN – of a sobbing 16-year-old Florida girl saying she has been drugged and raped, and the prosecutor’s office has decided not to pursue the case. She is crying out for help.

According to CNN, the situation in Florida sounds similar to the UK:

Fewer than 5 percent of reported cases in Florida make it to a prosecutor’s office, Dritt said. Whether because of lack of forensic evidence or because many are he said/she said accounts, rape cases can be very difficult to try.

“What you hear from every rape crisis center from Pensacola to Key West is that there are hardly ever any prosecutions,” she said. “Most sexual violence is acquaintance rape, and unfortunately, a lot of juries still think that if a victim had a relationship with their attacker, then they cannot be raped by that person.”

CNN says that young women are increasingly telling their stories online, whether it be on YouTube, or their blogs, or on Facebook and MySpace. The system fails, and when not-so-long-ago there was little other outlet, now that’s changed.

I’m really split here – I can’t help but think that it is unethical for CNN to post a link to this YouTube video, in the same story where they quote various experts caution about the risks of telling these stories online. It feels a bit exploitative, to me – they could have run the story without linking the video, and still got the point across. And linking to the video is also linking to all the vile, disgusting comments underneath (I do not recommend you go and read them).

If they really wanted to distribute the video, in order to help people understand and empathise, not just exploit her suffering for ratings, then they should at least have stripped it out of YouTube and put it on their own site, so they were not directing their readers to those comments. *shudder*


Charcoal Ink points out a horribly cavalier comment made by a woman foreign correspondent about the risk of being raped on the job.

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence has a new website, Feministe points out. It’s stuffed full of information and tools for getting organised, including this kit on stopping law enforcement violence against women of colour and trans people of colour.

‘And Tango Makes Three – a kids book about a penguin family with two dads – is one of the most challenged books in US schools and libraries. Ms. Anthrope at comes up with some kid’s books that really deserve to be challenged.

Reading While Black ponders the lack of critical feminist attention being paid to romance novels.

emily0 at quench zine has some more info on the issue of Zucker and the DSM, which Helen explained so well earlier.

The third carnival of sexual freedom and autonomy is up at The Jaded Hippy – including Sinclair’s great post on misperceiving/being misperceived as femme or butch.

Uncool posts about Sharon Roberts, who called up to make an appointment at her local GUM clinic (where you go for STI tests, for non-UK readers). So, the receptionist forgot to put the phone down, and she heard them saying shit like this (apparently about her):

Oh yeah, but come on, who else is going to have her, bless her. She smells, she had black teeth. She’s a typical either druggie or alkie because she’s dead skinny.

An update from Southall Black Sisters – they have managed to get an injunction to stop the funding cut, until the High Court hears their case that Ealing Council has failed its duties under the Race Relations Act. Full story at Women’s Grid.

Q-sputnik deconstructs the idea that white middle class women are a monolithic group.

Racialicious posts a guest contribution about way that non-Ashkenazi and multiethnic Jews were sidelined at a Yiddish conference.

Comments From You

alexissss // Posted 16 May 2008 at 10:02 am

I am from Russia. “Fewer than 5 percent of reported cases” – unfortunately statistics in Russia look not better.((

Jess McCabe // Posted 16 May 2008 at 10:13 am

They’ve got a list of events in the UK on the IDAHO website too…

q-sputnik // Posted 16 May 2008 at 10:45 am

greetings and thanks for having me around-just that it’s ‘q-sputnik’ rather than ‘g-sputnik’. thanks!

Jess McCabe // Posted 16 May 2008 at 11:00 am

Oops! Corrected now…

jenniferdrew // Posted 16 May 2008 at 12:17 pm

Ref: case of young woman failed by Florida legal system. CNN whilst claiming to simply publish news has sensationalised the case of yet another instance of male violence against women. By linking youtube to this case, CNN has effectively undermined its claim to just publish news. Now this young woman’s case has become a pornographic story and of course enabled misogysnists and women-haters to once again attempt to silence women speaking out against male violence against women.

icarus // Posted 16 May 2008 at 9:57 pm

thanks for the shout-out to Quench!

m Andrea // Posted 17 May 2008 at 3:05 pm

The YouTube questions is really about something more fundamental. Should we use shocking tactics, or should we stick to the safe ethical methods? The shocking tactics work quickly but leave us open to criticism from our detractors. The scrupulously ethical methods also work, but far more slowly.

I would argue that it entirely depends on what the opposition is doing, how much damage they are causing to women, and at what rate is this damage increasing or decreasing. I would also argue that our pornified culture has gotten worse, not better, over the years, and that in many other ways the state of women’s autonomy, rights and status has regressed. Therefore, whatever the hell works and works quickly is best.

Anyone disagreeing with that needs to argue that “no matter how bad things get, or no matter how fast that rate of damage is, a feminist is always required to use the safe, ethical tactics”. Then, you need to show that slightly unethical but shocking tactics cause more long-term harm then good.

You can’t do it, so screw those safe, SLOW, ethical tactics. We’re not nazis trying to kill the men here, or gain power OVER men either; we’re feminists trying to attain equality for women. So it is entirely appropiate to say that we alone have right on our side. Whenever you fight an opponent (and misogynists are not my friends; they ARE my opponents) who insists on fighting unfairly — if you inist on fighting them fairly you will always LOSE. If you do ever win, it’ll be because of sheer luck.

m Andrea // Posted 17 May 2008 at 3:15 pm

“and if you do ever win, it’ll be because of sheer luck” — which of course is always attributed to perseverance and hard work.

But feminists never look at the percentages. How many years have feminists been fighting inequality? How many battles? And out of all those years, and all those battles, exactly how many have been won?

The percentage of successful campaigns, in comparison to the actual effort, is pretty freaking dismal. The percentage is so small it might as well be luck.

Barbie // Posted 22 May 2008 at 1:02 am

Can you imagine how many women have experienced something like this? In Aug., 2003, (at the age of 30) I was raped by a marine stationed in Quantico, Va. The Quantico Police Dept. began the investigation and actually did treat me well–but informed me that they would have to turn it over to Prince William County Police because they (Quantico Police) did not have the technology to handle a rape case. When the detective from PWC Police met us at the hospital, everything started going badly. Once the other officers left, it was just he & I. This jackass actually acused me of being intoxicated, and suggested that I really might have wanted it!!! LET ME TELL YOU ALL: PLEASE DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. Needless to say, there is at least one more rapist who got away with it—-for now.

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