Victims of Forcible Rape Essay

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Rape has long been considered as one of the worst of crimes, but for centuries it was handled without much care for the victim. It used to be thought of as more of a harm against the man, husband or father, instead of something against the woman. In the past, some rapists were punished severely while others were not. This typically depended a great deal on the social status of both the victim and the aggressor (Karmen, 2010). For example, in biblical times, a man could be sentenced to death for the rape of a virgin, but a married woman who was raped could be sentenced to death for enticing the rape. In medieval times, a man might steal a young woman from a wealthy family in order to force her to marry him and thus give him better status, …show more content…
Many states have now adopted a more gender neutral definition, but lack of consent is typically the key factor in labeling a crime as rape (Karmen). One of the problems that plague both the legal system and researchers of rape alike is the low rate of reporting by victims. The inability to ascertain an accurate number of the amount of rapes that happen each year makes it difficult to determine whether the crime happens rarely or if there is an epidemic in progress as some critics claim. There are a variety of reasons, however, that keep women from coming forward when they are raped. They may feel guilt for getting their offender in trouble if they know him, they may be too ashamed to come forward, they may fear for their safety, or they may just not want their loved ones to know what happened (Hursch, 1977). Whatever the reason may be, the inability to establish an accurate number has lead to a debate as to whether the problem is rare or is at epidemic proportions. One study gave a conservative estimate that 20-30 percent of females twelve or older would suffer a violent sexual attack at some point of their life. This means that a woman is just as likely to suffer a sexual attack as she is to be diagnosed with cancer or go through a divorce (Gilmartin, 1994). Gilbert, however, states that many of the studies showing high rape numbers are flawed. He points out that in one particular study, 73 percent of the women who were defined as victims of rape did not even

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