Sexual assault has been a hot topic in Texas for the past couple of years.
One article shows that nearly one in four women claim that they have been sexually assaulted on campus, and in January, it was revealed that “a lawsuit claimed 31 Baylor football players committed at least 52 acts of rape in just three years.”
These allegations are indicative of a culture-wide problem, something that affects all of the United States, not just Texas. The fact that experts agree that the “one in four” women statistic is probably lower than the real number is proof of the fact.
Many people — not just women — do not come forward with sexual assault charges because they’re afraid that the system won’t protect them. The cultural stigma associated with rape can make things difficult.
Will we change anti-rape laws?
Right now, the minimum punishment for sexual assault is five years in prison. But some think that we could be doing more.
For example, State Senator Kirk Watson filed five campus rape bills in order to make anti-rape laws more strict. This move was not without its detractors.
Skeptics worried about the law that would require people with knowledge about sexual assault to report it within 48 hours. This is regardless of whether or not that person was a victim, or what the victim’s wishes are.
These anti-rape laws would also require the person reporting to give the victim’s name. This is regardless of whether or not the victim wishes to remain anonymous.
The fact that people should be forced to respond to sexual assault in a certain way is not something that sits well with a lot of people.
Also, the lack of regard for the victim’s wishes strikes many — including people pushing for stricter laws — as a rather uncomfortable idea.
That said, there is some support for the other components of Watson’s plan. For example, his laws would make sure that people reporting sexual assault would not be charged for a lesser crime, such as underage drinking.
These laws would also force schools to set up a way for victims to report crimes anonymously.
What this means
When scandals like the Baylor scandal take place, it requires us to take a long look at our laws and cultural norms. And, often, these things can lead to positive changes in the way we handle such crimes.
This is not just a state problem. It’s a nation-wide problem.
The Bayer scandal was shocking, not new. There have been several scandals recently that have opened many important dialogues.
Things like this can get us to discuss the nature of consent. They get us to discuss our preconceived notions about what a woman should or should not be doing.
They even get us to discuss what sexual assault means for other genders.
And, yes, it gets us to examine our anti-rape laws. While not all of Kirk’s suggestions have support, the fact that we’re talking about it proves that we’re taking steps in the right direction.
No matter what the outcome, the dialogue will remain.
Lawyers and students alike will have to keep an eye on these anti-rape laws, so that they can adjust their actions accordingly.
This post first appeared on The Dallas Lawyer, please read the originial post: here