Rape must be a public crime

Rape is a brutal form of oppression and domination, with the vast majority of victims being women and children. It is the suppression of freedom, the conversion of someone into an object of entertainment or pleasure, the objectification of a person for sexual use, an assault on human rights.

Statistics give insight into reality but do not translate it. According to the annual homeland security report, the rape crime is the eighth with the highest incidence in our country among the crimes related to violence and serious crime. However, those on the ground say the numbers fall far short of the cruelty that actually exists. More than twice as much, say victims’ associations. How can we do more to combat this heinous crime? Let’s start by analyzing the law.

Rape is considered a semi-public crime in Portugal. This means that the victim must file a complaint in order for an investigation to take place. Although law enforcement agencies and officials are required to report such crimes and anyone can do so on their own initiative, no investigation will be initiated without the victim filing a complaint. In addition, it is a crime with a deadline as the victim only has six months and can withdraw at any time. Every sentence in this paragraph is a problem that we need to fix.

Contrary to what is commonly believed, most attackers are close to the victims and are often family members. This means that rape is mainly a crime where there is a balance of power between the attacker and the victim, where some sort of ascendant is a habit that cannot be ignored, often living together. That is why the victim often does not bring charges: for fear of reprisals, because they have no confidence in a judicial system that puts sexual assault into perspective, because it is fragile or in shock. Or still, because you feel at your fate in a society that washes its hands and makes it appear that the crime is a matter of the victim’s will, not an act we all condemn. And the idea of ​​dropping the complaint at any time increases the pressure on the victim, which often comes from the social and family context.

If the offense was a public crime, it was sufficient to bring it to the attention of the judicial or police authorities to conduct an investigation. And regardless of the will of the parties, the process runs to the end. Warning, this does not imply an automatic conviction nor the lack of rights of defense under any allegations. It just means that after establishing the facts, if the prosecutor understands that there are grounds for prosecution, he will bring them forward regardless of the victim’s will.

Some say that turning rape into a public crime can lead to double victimization. It is not a new argument, it was used when the same decision on the crime of domestic violence was being considered. I think here we can say that the most important thing is to give security to the victims, to those who do not denounce today because they are afraid, because they do not feel protected.

Violence against women became a public crime about 20 years ago. At the time we said that “the ancestry of the attacker through the balance of victim and power is particularly intense, which is why it is also a force to hand the victim over to his fate and inform him that the decision is to investigate and blame the crime , has suffered from you, depends only on your will ”. It’s time to draw the same conclusion about the rape crime.

One final note: this is not just a women’s issue, it’s a collective one. All accused of the rape crime are men. Today, on Father’s Day, we should reflect on how we can break the chain of patriarchal culture broth that subdues and diminishes women. It is not only the law that we have to change, it is also the mentalities and that is in the culture of respect and equality that we have to convey to children and young people. I believe that being a father is also like that.

The author writes according to the new orthographic convention

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