Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Letter of the Day: Raped again by State

Published:Tuesday | July 7, 2015 | 7:00 AM

I read with great horror The Sunday Gleaner's report captioned 'I forgave my rapist! - Slow justice system frustrates victims into abandoning cases'.

This young lady, in truth, did not exactly request forgiveness of her rapist. What this victim of rape asked for was freedom for herself, yet the State, in turn, freed an alleged rapist - and to my mind - blundered in its responsibility to protect. Obviously, the laws that are set in such a way that make this 'right' need to be revisited and altered.

It's all well, good and correct to forgive. Forgiving, however, by no means dictates - or even in the very least enunciates - that the perpetrator should be redeemed of the consequences of his/her actions or be unleashed on society to, as statistics show that they often do, rape again.

The system through which 'justice' for rape victims is to be attained is set in such an insensitive way that demands multiple court appearances [which often includes having to be in the same court space as the rapist], giving testimony, being grilled by attorneys, and made to relive the ordeal over and over in myriad ways.

It's a 'justice' system that twists a peppered knife of sought justice into the victim's wound of unspeakable pain and salts their raw flesh with the realisation that justice is based on who has the better attorney on the day, which witness holds up better, who is more convincing, and who can come up with more or better evidence, etc.

The justice system, as it stands now, is a torturous perpetuation of the victim's emotional pain and anguish, which serves to inflict frustration and castrate their desire for justice and/or to protect the next possible victim. As such, it's a system that better serves the wants of the rapists than it does the needs of the rape victim.

It should not be the victims' duty alone to attain justice, nor should it be solely their choice whether or not society gets to be protected from these rapists.

 

Reform the system

 

Technology is today so advanced that rape victims in search of justice should not have to be in the same court room as their rapist. Nor should justice demand them having to listen to the trial and their private pain being ripped bare and trivialised into legal rigmaroles, or to have to repeatedly be asked to paint graphic pictures of their nightmare.

Can the system not be set in such a way that allows rape cases to be also tried in a very time-sensitive way? Is it not the State's duty to protect its own in such a way that even in the event that these victims no longer have the emotional or physical wherewithal to chase justice, the State mandatorily does, while relieving the victim of this added burden?

Like Pamela* in Sunday's story, what many rape victims ask of the State is freedom from a legal system and process that further rapes their dignity and very private space, prolongs their anguish and mocks their suffering and misery!

It is now for the State to make the system to be, as much as possible, set in a way that frees rape victims from the charade of justice, and stop freeing rapists to prey on the society.

FALASHA FITZ-HENLEY

falfitzhenley@gmail.com