Redefining Rape Victims?

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Bobby Franklin, a state representative in the Georgia Legislature, proposed a new bill to change the term ‘victim’ to the term ‘accuser’ in the Official Code of Georgia (titles 16 and 17). The law would apply to victims of stalking, rape, and domestic violence. The legislation says the following:

“To amend Titles 16 and 17 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to criminal law and criminal procedure, respectively, so as to change the term “victim” to the term “accuser” in the context of a number of statutes making reference to circumstances where there has not yet been a criminal conviction; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”

Just in case you were unaware, the majority of victims of stalking, rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence are women. Sexual assault and rape are some of the most underreported crimes and this law would make it even more difficult for victims to come forward. The bill will call all of these victims ‘accusers’ until a conviction is reached. There is a problem with this. This undermines the victim’s experience by essentially questioning whether a crime actually occurred. Robbery and fraud victims are still victims, as this bill does not apply to those crimes. In my opinion, this is sending the message that rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking victims could have possibly made up their experience. Apparently, people who experience crimes such as these were not actually victimized. Does this make any sense? Absolutely not.

This bill shows that the ideology that rape victims are guilty until proven innocent is still all too prevalent in our society. As a resident of the state of Georgia, this bill makes me sick.

Bottom line: every crime has a victim. Changing the word victim to the word accuser, only in the instances of rape, domestic violence, and stalking, just presents one more obstacle for victims of these violent crimes.

If this proposed bill concerns you, contact your representative or Representative Franklin and let them know. Tell them that women already have enough barriers to face when seeking justice for gender-based crimes and the state of Georgia shouldn’t create more.

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