Jan 07 2013
The brutal gang rape in Delhi, India of a 23 year old woman who died of her injuries continues to generate protests in India and internationally. With the permission of her family, Indian media have now revealed that her name was Jyoti Singh Pandey.
While US commentators report on the abysmal state of Indian women, American women also face extremely high rates of rape and sexual assault, and antiquated rape laws still remain on the books, making justice elusive for rape victims.
For example, right here in Los Angeles this past Friday a three judge Appeals Court panel reversed a rape conviction after learning that the woman who was raped was not married. The judges cited a law put onto the books in 1872 which states that it is only rape if the rapist is pretending to be someone’s husband and tricks the woman into having sex. Therefore if the rape victim is unmarried, according to this antiquated law, sexual assaults against her are not considered rape.
While the use of this 19th century law to protect a rapist is shocking, California Attorney General Kamala Harris has just called it “arcane,” vowing to work with the state legislature to revise it.
Meanwhile, in the small town of Steubenville, Ohio there have been accusations of a cover up of a sexual assault as two star high school football players await trial for the alleged rape of a 16 year old girl this past August. While police waited 11 days to arrest the suspects, online blogger Alexandria Goddard started covering the case and the Hacktivist group Anonymous staged a protest after leaking documents and video pointing to more suspects. Yet, the county police chief has said that no other people will be charged.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 1 in 5 US women have been raped or have experienced an attempted rape. But these serious statistics have not moved House Republicans, who have refused to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act or VAWA. That act would provide money to help fight domestic violence and sexual assault by upholding stiffer penalties for criminals as well as funding shelters and helping victims. Republicans refused reauthorization claiming that there were too many provisions allowed for Native American women, undocumented immigrants and LGBT people.
GUEST: Katie Buckland, Executive Director of the California Women’s Law Center. She was previously the domestic violence prosecutor for the City of Los Angeles.
Visit www.cwlc.org for more information about the California Women’s Law Center.