Police Forces Unfounded

by panacheg on February 17, 2017 - 7:45pm

On February 3, 2017, the Globe and Mail released it’s twenty-month long study on unfounded sexual assault cases which revealed that police forces through out Canada had dismissed one out of every five cases as “unfounded” between the years of 2010 to 2014. Unfounded is a classification used by police forces to close a file that is deemed “baseless.”  A story was shared about a young woman named Ava and her experience in reporting a sexual assault which happened in 2010 while attending University in London, Ontario. Her case was dismissed as unfounded, and she chose not to pursue it further.

There was a video that was released and published on the Globe and Mails site which was Ava’s interview. In this video, it is suggested by the detective who interviews her that she may have consented while she was blacked out and that she only became upset when she realized people were watching, it is at this point in the video I believe that Ava felt she was not being taken seriously. This resonated with me as we had just done readings for class on construction of victims. I have in the past considered what rates, if any, had existed on the amount of sexual assault cases that are reported, and how many were successful. My interest in this topic stems because the police forces that are set in place to protect society, through policy may inadvertently be doing the opposite. In addition, it reinforces rape myths discussed in last weeks’ class.

What does this tell women and how does it make them feel when they are told they did not get raped? Being called a liar, this reduces rates of reporting. We must update and rid our society about the perfect victim, anyone of us can be a victim. The cases that were founded according to the study were ones that had the perfect victim. The system deemed complainents who did not conform to the perfect victim role as baseless. This hinders other victims from reporting thier own stats.

Ava’s experience is one that is quite consistent through out our country, we ask how can this happen, fortunately, this class along with it’s readings sheds some light on the reasons why. There are rape myths which stem from the seventies, which state that stranger rape was real rape. There is also a notion that if there is no visible injuries or violence reported that there was no sexual assault. I feel that to make a significant change in this perception, we must focus on educating the youth. To date, we have had a slow steady change controlling what the media portrays, however this should be reinforced with education on the topic starting at a young age. It was a controversy for some parents when the government announced its sexual education guidelines were to be introduced at an even younger grade. Perhaps this is in response to studies they have already completed on their own. Regardless, the idea for me is in the right direction. What happened to Ava and countless others is tragic, our society requires more awareness. This study by the Globe and Mail shows that police forces requires some updated training on what rape myths are, and that they do have a major impact on what one perceives to be rape.

Furthermore, police forces require serious review regarding their policies that involve sexual assault awareness and updated interviewing techniques. One would also notice that this story has influenced many police forces across Canada to conduct reviews on their previous cases closed as unfounded. It is a clear indication of the contrasting intersectionality that divides victimization which hinders an officer who is socialized to believe that rape requires elements of myths of yesterday to be considered real. Considering this happens within police forces, imagine how a victim is portrayed in a court room. 

Comments

First, I would like to say that your post was very informative about the topic of rape myths. I had some sense that police forces didn’t always take rape cases seriously enough but I didn’t know it went this far. You explained the specific rape myths that police officers believe in and showed how those myths make it harder for women to report their cases of abuse. I believe you are looking at the issue of misinformed police officers with the use of virtue ethics. That is to say you would want the police officers to do what a virtuous person would do. This would mean that the police agents would make sure they are well informed and take all cases seriously. That would be the morally right thing to do according to the virtues of justice and equality.

However, you could also look at this using a utilitarianism point of view. This would mean that you would base your actions according to their outcomes in the hopes of causing the greater good for the greatest number of people. In this case you could argue that ignoring harder or seemingly less important cases to focus on more important cases would better benefit society.

Given the long history of society blaming the victim instead of the perpetrator in cases of women being raped I think you were correct in applying virtue ethics to your analysis. However, it is still important to consider different views when looking at ethical problems.