History of Rape, Prevention, Crime and Punishment Part 2 Steps After Rape

About the steps that a woman should take after being victim of the crime of rape, the process involved and chances of conviction.

Rape Control Fails to Halt Increased Rape Rate

Running the Horror Gamut. A woman who reports forcible rape still has to run a truly terrifying gamut of experiences beyond the rape itself--if she wants her assailant captured, tried, and convicted. If the man is a person the woman has been dating, if she bears no marks of a beating, if she has hitched a ride in a man's car, if she struck up an acquaintanceship with a man in a bar--or any one of a dozen other such circumstances--the police or the assistant district attorney will tell her she has virtually no chance of having the man convicted.

If she was raped by a stranger in her own home and beaten, cut up or otherwise severely mutilated, she may possibly stand a chance of seeing the rapist convicted. First, of course, she must be able to make a positive identification. If she wishes to see the case through to a conclusion, she must go through these steps:

1. Repeated questioning of a necessarily embarrassing, sometimes degrading nature by police officers and subsequent investigators; 2. In many cases, photographing of many areas of her body, sometimes her most intimate parts; 3. Examination (generally in a hospital emergency room, occasionally with police present) of her sexual organs and other parts of her body--not only to check for pregnancy or venereal disease, but to gather hard evidence in the way of semen, body hair, sperm, etc. 4. Assuming the police capture the suspect and have enough evidence to go to the D.A., the woman now must undergo even more intensive questioning by the assistant D.A. assigned to the case. He must determine how good a witness she will be, and how well she will hold up in court; 5. If the D.A. thinks he has a case, the probability is there will be a preliminary hearing to determine whether the alleged rapist should be held over for trial. The preliminary hearing is a trial in itself. The prosecutor asks his plaintiff to describe every detail of the rape to make his case. Then the defense counsel takes her through the experience all over again, on cross-examination, frequently with emphasis on her own past sex life; 6. If the defendant is held over, the trial eventually begins, probably after many continuances; which, in many cases, will be granted again and again to the defense. In the case of both the hearing and the trial, it must be remembered that there is an audience of strangers before whom the woman must repeatedly recite not only the details of the rape, but many other elements of her past and present sex life.

Chances of Conviction. And, when it's all over, what are the chances of conviction? Here's a typical record: In 1972, in the State of California, 3,439 rape arrests were made. Of these, only 753 were charged (meaning the police and D.A. thought there was a case). And of the 753, only 266 were convicted. Of those convicted, the majority were given suspended sentences, went directly on parole, or were paroled after serving brief sentences.

It is true that in 1974 more effective action was taken to fight rape and reduce the humiliation a victim goes through than at any other time in history. But much more needs to be done.

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