Wish I was there . .
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15 January 2007

Something new

Lately, this blog has been a lot of whining and not much substance. Although I cannot promise that will change often, periodically I will be making attempts to add some "substance." The following is just some thoughts I had after reading an article in today's paper about the boys from Missouri who had recently been rescued from their kidnapper. Feel free to agree, disagree, or tell me I'm full of crap. I'm interested to hear what others think about this.

Those in “developed society” tend to frown upon the stories of women convicted for being victims of rape. Stories from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and other countries about women being imprisoned for “zina” or unlawful sexual intercourse (which is a rather nice phrase for being violently forced to have sex) are abhorrent. The idea that someone could be jailed or sentenced to die because of being sexually abused is outrageous to the majority. These stories are a reminder that societal organizations should not be used to further victimize those who have harmed wrongly.

Why then is there a questioning outcry after two kidnapped boys from Missouri are discovered – one after nearly four years of captivity? The issue centers on the fact that this child had opportunities to use a phone and a computer, and was also seen outside of his captor's apartment, yet according to the media there were no attempts to escape. Somehow, in the court of public opinion, this has brought this child's victimization into question.

Is it necessary to remind John Q. Public of a child’s vulnerability? This child was kidnapped at age eleven and was held approximately one hour from his home. In reality, how many children age eleven could find their way home when an hour away? Additionally, a child's inability to accurately assess a situation should be noted. Children readily believe that a fat man in a red suit can slide down the chimney of every home in one night. Yet according to the media backlash in this case, a pre-teen should be able to measure the credibility of his kidnapper's words and deeds, and then act to save himself at opportune moments. It is unknown at this point what was done or said to this child, but the media questions should focus on why he was taken and what can been done to keep this offender from stealing another young life, instead of blaming the child for failing to escape.

Lately, it has become easier to blame the victim of a crime as their credibility is further questioned in the news. Through cases like the recent Duke rape case, the issue of an alleged victim's credibility are being examined. In the Duke case, the waters are furthered muddied by a prosecutor who in seeking fame, forgets his ethical responsibilities to the public. It was easier during an election year to spew words like "gang rape" and "racism" without first investigating the case. Due to a recantation and evidence issues, the focus has moved to one of blame. Because of the rush to judgment without evidence in that case, other victims of crime will suffer --their credibility will be attacked for having the audacity to report a crime that is often near impossible to prove. After all, the smart criminal chooses to commit a crime where it cannot be seen and is careful not to leave behind evidence. Thankfully, many are not so smart.

In looking at these cases, it becomes evident that “civilized society” is no different than those courts in developing nations. Instead of a criminal conviction for being raped, there is a conviction in the court of public opinion -- the child in Missouri should have done more to escape. This is the same logic used to punish the victims of rape. The only difference is that there, women are punished for the actions of their predator, whereas here, we punish the kid for the actions of the kidnapper.



Expat Traveler said...

I certainly knew my way home by age 11 but I could tell my parents by age 6 of a park I loved that I went to with friends and tell them which way to go without a flaw! But my memory and attention was that great.

AS for the Duke Case - the chick is a fraud. She's changed her story which means she is lying because if you actually weren't lying your story would be the same every time, moment for moment.. Don't believe me on this one? I bet any cop, judge or anti-terrorism trainee will tell you pretty much the same thing...

But that's just my 2 cents.

hexe said...

E.T. - Cases like the Duke casae really irritate me because they make it harder for a true victim. Most sexual abuse crimes do not occur in front of witness so evidence is limited; often the victim's credibility is the entire case. People who file false reports just make it harder for the public to believe real victims.

Jessica Brogan said...

I think that you make a valid point - but the difference between those less developed countries and ours, is that people in the former have nothing to gain by playing the victim. As you pointed out, the victims of abuse are not protected or doted upon, they are chastized or punished. However, in our society, there is the somewhat realistic possibility that a good story will bring that "15 minutes of fame." Being the victim in America brings CNN, nightly news, the works. So, perhaps we have reason to doubt victims because of the media world we have and the desire for fame that people get hooked on in our society.
I'm not saying that this young boy is not perfectly innocent, it is just worth consideration.

And also, did his kidnapper take him to get his lip pierced? He didn't have it when he was kidnapped, and now he does. What's that all about?