Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Saint Louis University law students respond to rape apologist's inflammatory "false rape" event

Students at the Saint Louis University School of Law conducted a sexual violence awareness event in response to the law school's Federalist Society chapter’s “The 41%-ers: Our False Rape Society.” Distributed flyers and information were incredibly well received by the students and faculty, and about half of the students and faculty wore teal ribbons in support of sexual violence awareness.

On its Facebook page for this event, the Federalist Society wrote that hosted controversial conservative journalist Cathy Young at the university’s campus to discuss false rape accusations and the “irreparable damage they do to individuals and our society.” The Federalist Society, a libertarian student organization, also plans to “balance” the discussion with a happy hour tomorrow with the Mark Twain Law Society, an all-male club within SLU Law. Law Students for Reproductive Justice were not invited to participate in the discussion and were only invited to the happy hour after the media was alerted and attended the event.

Many students on campus have other thoughts about Ms. Young’s event.

“I find it absolutely disturbing,” said Emily Rosenfeld, president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ). “There are some things in the world worth fighting for, and in my opinion the rights of sexual assault survivors rank high on that list. I am ashamed that anyone on this campus thinks it is okay to trivialize the pain and injustice that so many survivors go through. Furthermore, she singled out a few high profile cases that attracted heavy media frenzy but this only seeks to further trivialize the vast amount of sexual assaults that go unreported.”

Another LSRJ member Erin Lenahan further remarked that, “we shouldn’t have to keep fighting this battle. We all know that rape is terrible and we all know that lying about being raped is bad. So how do we protect actual victims while upholding our legal notion of ‘innocent until proven guilty’? There is no easy answer, but choosing to address claims of false rape only serve as another way to point a finger rather than finding a solution.”

LSRJ member Chelsea Merta (and Faith Aloud policy analyst) agreed, stating that “it’s a shame that we live in a world where, instead of women supporting other women who have fallen victim to sexual violence, some choose to use those moments of pain as a platform against the victims. Instead, efforts need to focus on changing how society and the media view and report rape, not attack the legal system that’s already severely underutilized.”
Merta continued, saying that “When twenty percent of all American women will be sexually assaulted, and more the half of those incidents will even be reported, that means that 10% of the entire American female population sits in a world where they are shamed into silence because of women like Ms. Young and organizations like the Federalist Society.”

In order to truly open the dialogue, LSRJ will host a film screening, to be held at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Room 04 in the basement of Morrissey Hall (SLU Law’s building). During the event, the critically-acclaimed documentary film “The Invisible War” will be screened, with a discussion to follow.

The event is free and open to the public, and members of the press are invited.

Sexual Violence Awareness Month starts in April.