Family members of the young woman who is accusing her cousin of raping her when she was 10, on Wednesday gave their testimony in court. You can read all about here.
In essence, this mostly consisted of describing the young woman as:
• Too ambitious, did not talk much
• A bit of a duttura, who did not talk unless spoken to
• Standoffish, the jealous type
• A very proud character
I don’t know whether the accusations the young woman is making are true. It is up to the court to decide that.
But the implications of this sort of 'testimony' go way beyond this specific case.
Basically, what we have here are a cluster of family members who are not even ready to consider the possibility that a young woman has been sexually abused because, well, she was a bit of an antipatka?
Because these are the sort of character assassination attempts that a woman who claims she was raped as a 10-year-old has to contend with.
They “believe him, not her” because... they don't really like her. Oh yes, and the apartment was small and crowded too - like that has ever stopped scenarios of domestic abuse from unfolding. But that’s not even the point here.
More importantly… she was such an antipatka, right? A point that was laboured upon at length by all the relatives.
With this blog post I am not presuming to offer an opinion about who is lying and who is saying the truth in this specific case. That is not my business to decide.
But it is my business, everyone’s business, to call out our legal system on its failings.
What unfolded in court on Wednesday repeats itself ad nauseam pretty much throughout any sexual abuse proceedings, in whichever country.
The victim is put on trial. The victim finds herself having to field off ridiculous accusations about her character and her morals, details which are not even relevant to the case.
And that puts paid to the question that everyone insists on asking when a woman decides to speak out about suffering sexual abuse years after it actually happens. Why did the woman decide to speak out now? Why not right when it happened?
The answer is staring at us right in the face, sanctioned by a legal system that allows phrases like: “she was proud” to form part of a character testimony.
It takes years for women who have been abused to gather up enough courage to speak because we know that this is exactly the sort of bull we would have to face in court, that’s why.
And that being described as ‘proud’ or ‘over-ambitious’ is likely to have a bearing on whether our rapist or abuser walks free.
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