Victims Rights: Better Late Than Never

I have worked very hard at drawing attention to the systemic failures of  response to sexual assault and domestic violence by law enforcement.  These past five years have shown me how racism and homophobia fit into the predictable pattern of ignoring an oppressed group by blaming and shaming them. I began my advocacy as an angry activist who shouted “Why don’t you just do your damn jobs?” However, I soon learned that the road to change was facing five distinct problems:

  1. The huge level of both ignorance and bias out there in the general population.
  2. The lack of incentive (from above) to do things differently.
  3. The inadequate training and resource allocations within departments.
  4. The unprofessional behavior justified by “protecting the brotherhood.”
  5. The district attorneys’ prime focus: it all comes down to profits and costs.

One of the most frustrating refrains I heard from short-term advocates was, “nobody cares, not even the victims or survivors.” My response: Well I’m not going to give up on them because I believe change IS possible! I believe that change is now imminent with the following announcement by the US Department of Justice on December 15th.

Justice Department Issues Guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

A press conference was also held that same day, and I have included the transcript for those who missed it.

Unofficial Transcript Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

It is ironic that change comes during one of the most volatile periods in USA history in light of the attention spent on police brutality and the reprise of racist crimes. I hope our people will soon open their eyes to the antecedents of these issues. It has nothing to do with having a victim mentality or feeling entitled to special treatment. It is about justice, freedom and peace for all of us.

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