Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Police and Rape

By Monica Moorehead
Published Jun 1, 2011 5:13 PM

Consider these horrific facts provided by the National Organization for Women: Every year approximately 132,000 women report they have been violently violated by rape or attempted rape. More than half of that number knew their attackers. It’s estimated that two to six times that many women are raped, but do not report it. Every year 1.2 million women are raped by their current or former male partners, some more than once.

The United States has the highest rape rate among countries that report such statistics. It is four times higher than that of Germany, 13 times higher than that of Great Britain, and 20 times higher than that of Japan.

Does the sexual assault of women by male police officers factor anywhere into these statistics? Putting aside individual cases here and there, the answer is “no.” So it is within this general context that the egregious May 26 acquittal of two New York Police Department officers on rape charges should be viewed.

Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata were called to help an intoxicated woman out of a taxi and escort her safely to her apartment. They were videotaped entering the East Village apartment of the woman, not once, not twice, but three times on Dec. 7, 2008. Moreno was charged with actually sexually assaulting the woman as Mata stood guard while this violence took place.

Both officers were found guilty of three counts of “official misconduct” — all misdemeanors — followed by termination of their jobs. In other words, they only got a slap on the wrist. The officers face up to one year on each charge of misconduct and will be sentenced in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on June 28.

People throughout the city became outraged with the verdict. A protest organized by women’s groups was held on May 27 in front of the courthouse where the trial took place.

Cops are no heroes

This latest incident holds important lessons. From the earliest days of childhood, it is drummed into our heads that the “policeman” is our “friend” and “protector.” This indoctrination continues throughout adulthood with an endless, nauseating parade of TV dramas and Hollywood movies, all glorifying the dangerous “job” of being a police officer. But this is not the reality.

Under capitalist society, the police are a deadly force of men and women trained to keep “order” for the small class of multimillionaires and billionaires whose corporations and banks control all the wealth created by the global working class. This “order” has created entrenched poverty, massive unemployment, slave wages, racial profiling, the incarceration of millions, and unprecedented objectification of women.

Bourgeois laws that are enforced with such harshness, degradation and insensitivity by the courts exist not only to protect the interest of the haves versus the have-nots, but also to protect the repressive force — the police. In fact, the police are above any laws that are meant to keep the masses in check. When has anyone ever heard of a police officer receiving a death sentence for killing an unarmed African American, Latino/a or working-class youth? Yet these senseless killings are almost an everyday occurrence, especially in large urban areas where there are no jobs and dire poverty.

If a woman dares to try to bring an accused rapist to justice, in many instances her character is actually put on trial by defense attorneys and their witnesses, who try to blame her for the violence brought upon her. Women in numerous rape cases are accused of “asking for it” based on how they are dressed or for being intoxicated.

Women should have the right to feel safe and be safe. Period. The police are not the answer. It will take a socialist revolution to usher in a humane, cooperative society to guarantee full equality for all women and ensure women’s rights and safety.
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