After months of inaction by local police and her university’s authorities, a 21-year-old college student decided to take matters into her own hands and post her rapist’s name and picture on the Internet. In her article, originally published on XOJane.com, the woman writes:
After my university failed to take immediate action against the student who raped me (despite having been provided with several audio recordings in which my rapist confessed to raping me) and after I became so socially ostracized that I contemplated suicide, it was suggested to me that I did not have to wait for the world to decide whether it would advocate for me or not.
In this young woman’s case, her rapist was also her boyfriend, which unfortunately may have contributed to authorities’ lack of urgency in moving the investigation forward. She nonetheless provided ample evidence of the man’s guilt and suffered the psychological effects of trauma for over a year afterward.
This isn’t the first time social media and the Internet at large have gotten entangled in cases of sexual violence. Some of the biggest recent scandals – from Rehtaeh Parsons’ tragic case to the much-publicized Steubenville trial – have been exacerbated by leaked photographs and endless debates across social media platforms. The quick spread of information on these sites has also allowed the community at wide to think about and discuss these issues, which is perhaps one positive outcome of the phenomenon. It is also heartening to see that some victims are able to break through societal inhibitions and come out in the open to raise awareness about sexual violence. Too often are victims silenced, perpetuating an overwhelming culture of shaming and excuse-making.
On the other hand, our legal system is supposed to uphold fair trials and “innocence until proven guilty” – so is it fair to expedite this process by proclaiming guilt in mass dispersal via the Internet? The argument could be made that this man’s identity and privacy should be wholly respected until he is actually convicted. We’ll leave it to the cyber masses to judge.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below!
Photo credit: mislav-m