On February 1 Jender brought Republican attempts to redefine rape to our attention. Now there is more. Georgia Republican state Rep. Bobby Franklin submitted a bill to change the state’s criminal code by removing the word ‘victim’ and replacing it with ‘accuser’ in cases of rape, stalking and aggravated stalking, obscene telephone contact with a child, and family violence. The survivors of rape, stalking, aggravated stalking, children who are subjected to sexually explicit telephone calls, and those who endure family violence would be, by law, accusers, not victims.
For example, here is the proposed revision to Code Section 16-6-1 (lines 63-67 of the bill):
“(c) When evidence relating to an allegation of rape is collected in the course of a medical examination of the person who is the victim accuser of the alleged crime perpetrator, the law enforcement agency investigating the alleged crime shall be responsible for the cost of the medical examination to the extent that expense is incurred for the limited purpose of collecting evidence.”
It would take a long time to tease out the possible implications of changing those two words. Here are just two:
Consider the number of survivors who are never legal accusers. Changing those two words muddles the difference between a crime being committed and the act of accusing someone of committing that crime. One can be a victim, a survivor of rape, without legally accusing anyone. Given the under-reporting of rape, this is not an empty possibility.
Consider that government funding is provided for abortion, in compliance with the Hyde Amendment, in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. What difference might it make to change our focus from a person being the victim of a crime, to being an accuser of a perpetrator? I worry that this can lead people to think that one only becomes a victim after a perpetrator is convicted, and then what would be the consequences for access to abortion?
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee reports on this bill here. The comments are (mostly) interesting.