Young Women's Experiences with Reporting Sexual Assault to Police


Vopni, Vicki. 2006. “Young Women’s Experiences with Reporting Sexual Assault to Police.” Canadian Woman Studies 25 (1/2): 107–15.

Author: Vicki Vopni


The literature has well documented women's largely negative experiences of reporting to the police. The prosecution of rapists has been termed "the second rape" because the victim is "twice traumatized"-once by the offender, and then again by the authorities. Research in the area substantiates that as "gatekeepers" to the criminal legal process, police officers play a vital role. The police evaluate sexual assault cases using the same societal standards that have established the "real rape" as genuine and true. Changing the nature of cases brought to the criminal justice system would encourage a re-definition of policing away from the traditional crime-fighting model that many feminists (and others) find problematic (Gartner and Macmillan 423). The larger issue is that the entrenched patriarchal values in our society tolerate and accept some degree of male violence against women. Holding only a handful of perpetrators accountable for their actions does little to curb the widespread incidence of woman abuse. As a result, many young women struggle with naming their experience as a sexual assault when they apply the narrow societal standards of the "real rape." The high incidence of sexual assault among women, especially young adolescents, coupled with the fact that it is severely underreported is a cause for serious concern.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Justice, Security Sector Reform, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women

Year: 2006

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