Gag Orders Shield Rapists Who Post Photos
Last summer when Savannah Dietrich was sixteen she had a few drinks at a party and passed out. Two acquaintances raped her and took pictures, which they sent to their friends. Gossip spread through her school, and Savannah was forced to “just sit there and wonder, who saw, who knows?”
With the humiliation she cried herself to sleep for months and avoided being in public.
Many young women don’t report rape for fear of further shaming, but Savannah did.
When her attackers pled guilty they requested a gag order to protect themselves, and the judge agreed.
First Savannah cried. Then she got angry and tweeted the names of her rapists:
There you go, lock me up. I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell… [Protecting rapists] is more important than getting justice for the victim.
Twitter closed the account.
Next, she posted on Facebook:
If reporting a rape only got me to the point that I’m not allowed to talk about it, then I regret it, I regret reporting it.
Victim’s rights activists worry about the message sent in jailing victims.
I think what she did was very brave … and I think a lot of people who may have been victims or survivors of assault and didn’t get the justice they deserve probably see themselves in her… Everyone wants this girl to have peace and time to recover and not another trauma like jail time.
The petition gathered 62,000 signatures in one day.
A defense attorney withdrew the request saying, “The horse is out of the barn. Nothing is bringing it back.”
Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, is thrilled, declaring:
a huge victory not only for Ms. Dietrich, but for women all over the country… These boys shared the picture of her being raped with their friends and she can’t share their names with her Twitter community? That’s just crazy.
So the gag order was lifted because the Defense gave in. But you have to wonder why the justice system protects admitted assailants who ruin others’ lives, and who could ruin still more under cover of silence — and who have already revealed themselves, anyway!
I wonder if these rapists, who appear to be white males (if a site posting their names and photographs is correct) were protected because they are white and seen as “boys who made a mistake” and not the criminals they are. Too often we protect privileged members of society (white, male, rich) over others (ethnic, female, poor).
Some might also blame a girl for getting drunk. But is drunkenness a worse crime than rape? Sometimes drinking even gets boys off the hook in public opinion – “He was drunk and didn’t know what he was doing.”
Yes, publicizing these men’s names could sully their future.
Maybe they should have thought of that before attacking Savannah — and posting pictures, themselves, on the internet.
And maybe these boys should have worried more about ruining Savannah’s life.
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Posted on August 1, 2012, in feminism, gender, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged feminism, gender, psychology, rape and sexual assault, Savannah Dietrich, sexism, violence against women, women. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.