Commentary Magazine


Contentions

OWS Pamphlet Discourages Rape Victims from Contacting Police

My first thought was that this “Occupy Baltimore” pamphlet discouraging rape victims from calling the police was so transparently silly no protesters would actually abide by it. But then you remember the videos of how clueless most of these activists are. If the movement organizers advise victims against calling the police (presumably for the benefit of the OWS’s public relations), some impressionable young protesters might actually go along with it:

Efforts by the Occupy Baltimore protest group to evolve into a self-contained, self-governing community have erupted into controversy with the distribution of a pamphlet that victim advocates and health workers fear discourages victims of sexual assaults from contacting police.

The pamphlet says that members of the protest group who believe they are victims or who suspect sexual abuse “are encouraged to immediately report the incident to the Security Committee,” which will investigate and “supply the abuser with counseling resources.”

The directive also says, in part, “Though we do not encourage the involvement of the police in our community, the survivor has every right, and the support of Occupy Baltimore, to report the abuse to the appropriate authorities.”

So in lieu of police help, victims are encouraged to bring their accusations to a Security Committee staffed with fellow activists. In other words, women are encouraged to forego their legal rights in order to have their case taken up by a powerless panel that can only issue toothless rulings. Apparently in OWS-land, the maximum punishment an “abuser” can expect to face is he will “no longer [be] welcome at the occupation.” But the pamphlet doesn’t say how exactly that will be enforced, and based on the fact OWS is opposed to police involvement, there’s no reason to think it even can be enforced. Maybe it just means the other activists will all give the abuser the silent treatment?

There is so much wrong with this situation. Failing to report a sexual assault to the police isn’t just an affront to the basic notions of justice. Rapists are often repeat offenders, and getting them off the street – or getting identifying evidence into the system – is critical for preventing future assaults. Women’s organizations should be out at OWS protesting these pamphlets.