Facebook PixelCreating safer spaces for speaking out and more empathetic processing of the testimonies and evidence of sexual assault cases through re-education away from rape culture norms
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Creating safer spaces for speaking out and more empathetic processing of the testimonies and evidence of sexual assault cases through re-education away from rape culture norms

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salemandreus
salemandreus Jun 22, 2021
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CW: Content warning: Rape Culture, Sexual Violence.
Society struggles to end the devastating societal problem of sexual violence. A large part of this is in combatting rape culture, which aids in the perpetuation of sex crimes and often makes the process of bringing these cases to trial far more traumatising for victims through stigmatization, misunderstanding and insufficient steps being taken in the process of opening a case. These cases can be delicate given counselling may be required, and such factors as testifying in court in front of one’s perpetrator and societal, community or familial pressure may have power to the victim’s testimony and the culture which often protects perpetrators given the statistic that over 90% of cases of sexual assault and rape are committed by persons known to the victim according to one case study surveying 1000 victims.
I see the main objectives of societal transformation out of rape culture to be:
1) Ensuring the support and protection of victims
  1. The creation of safer spaces for victims who speak out ensuring that offenders cannot harm, intimidate or retraumatise a victim, (eg a person who reports someone living in the same house or place of work or neighbourhood as the perpetrator should be guaranteed safety and not be subjected to continuing to have to closely engage where they are unsafe. This will intersect with and be heavily dependent on the efficacy of 2) below and will likely require the right legislative and executive bodies to enforce it.
  2. The creation of safer spaces in society in general which potential victims and vulnerable persons are empowered to speak up in the first place and where perpetrators are discouraged and know they will not be harboured and crimes are not covered up, and thus one where the culture overall becomes one of safety and empowerment for those who are vulnerable. The efficacy of this will also be heavily dependent on 3) below will similarly also likely require the right legislative and executive bodies to enforce it and ensure its accountability.
2) Ensuring better systems for the proper processing of sex crime cases - mechanisms to ensure cases are not be mishandled but should be properly brought to trial, proper procedures effected throughout society to ensure adherence to the other points due to the interdependence of all of these procedures: that victims are supported, mechanisms of accountability are enforced and the processes for their enforcement are sufficiently transparent to ensure accountability in this properly handling the case.
Offenders should in the process be effectively kept away from being able to cause further harm to society in general not only the victim in particular. Those who have lived out their sentence are also required to be properly re-educated on the harms they have done and then effectively vetted through psychological assessment and sufficiently deemed to have transformed themselves and to be safe to re-enter society before they can be approved for re-release instead of it being assumed that they are safe to do so after a sufficient amount of time in prison.

3) Re-educating society to de-normalise rape culture
Attitudes which perpetuate and support rape culture can also be seemingly innocuous rather than obviously violent, for example, in many places it is far more commonplace to simply warn women, LGBTQIA+ people and anyone who might be especially targeted for sexual violence to not go out after dark or to bars, and to shame them for their clothing or visibility if they are targeted for such violence with the implication that they had power to , rather than to address the actual problem of sexual violence in society as intolerable violence, a responsibility of society to eradicate, and something to be addressed directly. This stigmatizing culture furthers a confirmation bias where the victim is perceived as having some agency and even responsibility in some way over the fact that they are harmed and often speculatively blamed retrospectively which serves to perpetuate rape culture and even extends to how to how convicted rapists reverse the role of victim and perpetrator in seeing themselves as victims by perceived social responsibility, holding a common societal view of those who support them and defend their actions.
Therefore a large part of the ideal solution in terms of dealing with from existing offenders who seems to be re-education to directly combat the harms of rape culture and rape-normalising attitudes themselves, drawing on the supportive correlative and causative data regarding harmful attitudes and also dispelling prevalently subscribed to myths especially foregrounded by the data findings. 4) Restructuring society to change systems which perpetuate rape culture and enable perpetrators, along with demanding accountability for promoting harmful attitudes and challenges problematic behaviours such as sexual harassment and violent attitudes, rather than leaving these behaviours unchecked or tolerating the development of and normalisation of unsafe spaces, including the more subtle and unchecked normalisations in society.

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Creative contributions

Data Gathering on the administrative and social hurdles past victims have faced in obtaining support and pursuing justice

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salemandreus
salemandreus Jun 22, 2021
A lot of this change requires comprehensive data gathering, so we'd need to refine that gathering processes to ensure we're properly informed on problems of how these problems are perpetuated, through gaining the insight into the victim’s actual experiences of pursuing justice which make sex crimes particularly difficult to bring to court, and where the process could be better adapted to accommodate their situation.

For some examples of hurdles victims face in reporting the crime: processes of getting tested can be retraumatizing for victims, a large percentage of sex crimes happen from people known to the victim and family pressure may cover for the perpetrator, as well as systemic bias can affect the case officers being reported to (one example was in the case of Trevor Noah’s mother’s accounts of domestic violence which Trevor explains in his book, Born a Crime that her repeated charges against her husband’s abuse were consistently written off as “female hysteria” by police officers).
Crucial areas of study in identifying the root causes will be into where our existing supportive methods are falling short.
Firstly in studying how our justice system, support systems and case-opening processes are failing victims the hurdles victims face in getting cases to trial and being believed, etc, we’d need data gathered specifically from the perspective of victims, whose insight is essential to highlight such factors as where access to vital resources or knowledge is not gained when opening cases, where cases themselves are mishandled or where the process of prosecuting offenders is grinding to a halt and they are insufficiently notified regarding relevant information to their case.

In terms of how to gather the data, this would require more in depth and also location-specific and region specific anonymous data gathering. It would be anonymous in order to make participants feel safe to be honest without stigma if it's discovered they were a victim of a sex crime or other relevant culturally influencing factors which may prejudice the data.

On the part of victims, the frequent silencing through outfit shaming, cultural slut shaming, disbelieving of victims, virginity “purity” culture applied to women and shaming of men who encounter sexual violence and the fear of being disblieved and of social stigma in general makes it difficult for victims to to speak out frankly about their experiences and care would need to be taken in the language used to avoid prejudicing the data through any implied judgement or mis-phrasing of questions which may dissuade victims from fully participating in the discourse if they feel they are simply being subjected to further stigmatization. Coaching in proper sensitivity by researchers is also crucial in encouraging victims to speak frankly about experiences and to have faith that their input will actually be listened to and is not being elicited simply to “check boxes” on surveys. Thus explaining comprehensively where and how the data will be used, under what conditions and the levels of anonymity is also crucial to establish trust in the process.

Data regarding both is essential for understanding how the societal behaviours protecting and facilitating sexual violence and silencing and oppressing victims are perpetuated in order to make the necessary social changes and thus we need to ensure honest, unmodified, unfiltered data at all costs, which only can be guaranteed when people feel truly safe that they will not encounter negative consequences for honesty.
Willingness to adapt the data-gathering methodology itself based on feedback from the survey participants would thus also be crucial here and should be kept in mind throughout the process.
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A possible drawback

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Povilas S
Povilas S Jun 22, 2021
Great initiative and efforts to understand and break the abuse cycle, salemandreus. The only possible drawback which might result from implementing your suggestions, that I see, is that the situation might lean too much to the other side - for someone wanting to abuse the situation and gain benefits by accusing someone of rape or another type of sexual abuse it will become rather easy to do so - they will not be required to attain the court and stand in front of the claimed perpetrator, they might not even be required to provide physical evidence (doctor’s examination, etc.) of sexual abuse as you suggest that this might be further traumatizing for the victim, etc. There should be a way to balance these things and make sure there is fairness and objectivity while at the same time providing full safety and a comfortable environment for the victims to speak up.

Perhaps now, when, unfortunately, “rape culture” is still a “norm” in some places more than others, this radical leaning to the other side is required, especially in places with high rates of sexual abuse, but if it would linger for too long it might create its own problems. Any behavior can potentially be interpreted as sexual assault or harassment, especially verbal, therefore people might become too worried and not willing to say some otherwise normal or even positive things, or touch someone because of fear of being misunderstood and getting into trouble.

That being said, you addressed a very important issue which should by no means be taken lightly.
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Juranium6 months ago
While thinking of a new strategy to fight rape and sexual violence, this was my first thought, too.

I am convinced there would be people using this "lean" to gain more power and get better positions in society.
I personally know a "good" man, who was sentenced and banned from the scene due to sexual violence over young girls. If it's true then it's a nasty crime that was properly addressed and solved. On the other hand, he was an important person, and the prosecution happened 16 years after the act of sexual violence, few months before the new election. Is it a coincidence that three girls who are strongly connected to the political rival, spoke about the crime after 16 years, exactly at the peak of the political clash and campaigns?

I would not like to diminish the size of the problem of sexual violence but would like to agree with Povilas S that this is an important aspect to be taken into consideration. All crimes must go to court and be treated equally, according to law, but the legal process must be specifically designed to support all the evidence and clearly distinguish the real evidence from the fake ones.

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salemandreus
salemandreus6 months ago
I think you're misunderstanding my session topic here or referring to something else?
I didn't mention bypassing the court system at all, I'm not sure where that came across.
I am talking about these cases never making it to trial in the first place, cases being mishandled and dismissed by the officers and victims not taken seriously, and how this is often underpinned by rape culture.

What I'm brainstorming is how we can improve the effectiveness of the system to fix the problem in question (hence the statistic I shared at the beginning) to make it accessible for and supportive of victims to do this and ensure the system can actually be enforced in the first place.
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General comments

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Juranium6 months ago
Letter of Thanks
Hi @salemandreus! I would say "a very good topic", but it's not good at all.
It's not good that we have to open the brainstorming session on this primitive and nasty social impairment. It's not good that society, although it exists for thousands of years, still partially underpins this problem and blames the victim. It's not good that this problem is not properly addressed and the legal system didn't yet define the guidelines that would effectively support and shed a light on the truth.

For these reasons, although I can't say the session is "good", I think it's spot on and I would like to congratulate you on a creative and very systematic approach to this important problem. I was thinking of the same thing a few months ago, but couldn't find a way of how to present it to brainstorm effectively. I would be glad to join you in this journey. Thank you!
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