Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What do you title a blog post about the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl?

A 15-year-old girl who was leaving the Homecoming dance at her high school in California was gang raped for two and a half hours, in public, in front of witnesses, before someone called the police. She was raped repeatedly, robbed and beaten, and had to be airlifted to the hospital.

Two and a half hours. While people watched and did nothing to help. Instead, they allegedly took pictures and video on cell phones. According to this ABC story, "Police were called only after someone who was not at the scene heard people talking about the attack, which was still going on."

This is a hard story to digest.
  • CNN: Police: Gang rape outside school lasted more than two hours.
  • CBS: Police look for more suspects in gang rape
  • San Jose Mercury News: Richmond High gang rape, lack of action from onlookers outrages community
It's easy to get caught up on blaming people -- where were school officials? School security? Parents (as the school official suggests in the ABC story)? Why didn't anyone call the police when they realized what was going on? But let's not forget to blame the men and boys who raped her. They are the ones who did this. Yes, witnesses absolutely should have used their phones to call the police instead of taking pictures with said phones of a girl being raped -- but they still didn't rape her for two and a half hours.

One of the things that really gets to me about this story is how "outraged" people are that no one called the cops. How about a little outrage over, you know, the actual gang rape? That's just a little more serious than someone witnessing a crime and not doing anything about it -- which, by the way, is legal to do. You aren't legally obligated do anything if you see a crime happening. Morally obligated, perhaps, but not legally. Raping someone, however, is obviously illegal all the way.

My heart hurts for this girl. I've read reports saying she was pretty drunk when this happened, and I can only hope the crimes against her were "severe enough" that she doesn't have to endure much victim blaming (because I'm sure it will go around) on top of what she's already gone through. I would hope people can recognize that whatever she did or didn't drink (or wear, or say, or whatever) before this happened in no way means she "invited" this to happen.

Two people have been arrested so far, one 19 and one 15. Police are saying as many as seven men raped her. For two and a half hours.

FYI: According to RAINN, only six percent of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. And RAINN is an excellent organization to check out, get information from and donate to, as is Men Can Stop Rape.

Readers of this blog might want to check out Shakesville's post on the story (if you haven't already,) particularly the comments section. Such as this one (excerpted):
I wish I was stronger for you, unnamed young woman whose childhood, selfhood, sense of safety and dignity and autonomy, was so brutally taken and used and violated and tossed aside. I wish you all the love and healing there is, and yet I'm so afraid it might not be enough.

Scariest of all: she won't be the last. And so many still care far more about maintaining the status quo and protecting the "feelings" and "futures" and "reputations" of our young men, than the FUCKING HEALTH, SAFETY, AND WELLBEING of our women.

UPDATE (10/28): Four suspects have now been arrested and charged, and a fifth is being questioned. The four arrested are ages 19, 17, 16 and 15; all will be tried as adults. ABC reports that police think as many as 10 people took part in the gang rape. San Jose Mercury News says "perhaps seven." All four charged could face life sentences.

UPDATE (10/30): The fifth suspect still hasn't been charged, but a sixth suspect, who is 18, has been arrested. Police say he played a "significant role" in the rape. A couple other stories about the case:
CBS: Will Richmond High gang rape gawkers go free?
ABC: How could people watch alleged gang rape "like an exhibit"? This story touches on one of my earlier points: "
Members of the Richmond, Calif., community were stunned by the alleged rape and assault of a high school student after a school dance last Saturday. But a nationwide news audience was even more astonished by allegations that about 20 people in the immediate area observed about 10 men and boys gang rape and beat the 15-year-old girl for two-and-a-half hours on the Richmond High School campus and did not contact authorities." How sad is this?? It's more shocking that people watching didn't call the police than it is shocking that a teenager was gang raped.


Razor said...

Seriously one of the most disturbing things I've ever read. The people who did this make me reconsider my stance on the death penalty.

Admin said...

Absolutely horrible.

Hello Ladies said...

The presence of the bystander scares us. It is one thing to know there are evil people out there who might hurt us. It is quite another to think a crowd would cheer and let us suffer. But the rape itself should be enough to outrage us. Are we so desensitized?


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