Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Possible serial rapist label for assaults on campus

Just passing along this article by Ann Arbor's online newspaper about the sexual assaults in Ann Arbor lately. Mostly, it's pretty good, with a shout-out to our very own Holly Rider-Milkovich, but I'd like to set one thing straight. These women are not "alleged rape victims." The suspects are alleged rapists. Would you EVER say "alleged burglary victim?" These women have been assaulted, full stop. We just don't know who did it. The rates of false statements in rape cases are the same as any other violent crime. There are not women who go around screaming that they've been raped when they haven't, and it sickens me to see phrases like that in our newspaper. I'd like to ask all of you write in to the editor at letters@annarbor.com expressing your disappointment with this language, or to the author herself at heidifenton@annarbor.com.

Hat tip to fellow SAPAC member Kara Marsh for letting me know about this article.
--Briana

3 comments:

  1. Holly Rider-MilkovichJuly 21, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    I think that Heidi Fenton would probably hear your critique, especially if it is framed in terms of "there was so much you got right, it is clear that you are an ally in our work--however, here's a place where you missed, and this is why", so I definitely encourage you to connect with her. I'll give props to annarbor.com, however, for going in and removing victim-blaming comments from the articles. Jen Eyer, Director of Audience Engagement, took them out and then published a comment of her own explaining what victim blaming was and why it would not be tolerated. So--I think there are moments to applaud in the article and moments to push them further. Which is what we do :)

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  2. Thanks Holly, that's really great to hear.

    Also, just to throw a stat in there for everyone: false reporting of rape is the same of any other violent crime- 2% So that means that if someone says they have been raped, there is a 98% chance they are telling the truth.

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  3. The use of 'alleged' by newspapers isn't a statement that the victims are lying, but rather protecting the alleged attacker, who, unlike the victims, will be named in the article when apprehended. Saying "the victims were attacked by person X" is irresponsible journalism, because until a criminal conviction, the assaults are just that- alleged. Unless the newspaper itself has irrefutable evidence that the attacks actually occurred, regardless of the percentage likelihood that they did, it has a responsibility not to take sides in regards to the veracity of the accusations.

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