As I bring out in this post, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that if a woman doesn’t literally, physically scream when faced with a sexual assault, then she has “consented” to the violation. When a woman has been raped, she meets with elders in her congregation who are told to use their own “discernment” about the incident, taking into account her “mental disposition,” the circumstances leading up to the incident, and if she delayed reporting it. (See this post.) If elders don’t believe she was really raped, based on the above vague and obviously man-made standards, she may be disfellowshipped (excommunicated) and then shunned by her whole family and friends.
While this may seem obscene enough under any circumstances, consider what might be the legal ramifications of such a procedure. If elders in a woman’s religion have decided, based on a religious system that she is part of, that she has “consented” to the violation, is she even allowed to press charges or file a police report? Would her assailant have a legal defense in this case, saying that, according to her own beliefs, she consented to the assault if she didn’t scream, if she delayed reporting it, or if for any reason the elders in her congregation decided that she wasn’t really raped?
Yes, it is ridiculous to think that, because elders in a woman’s religion have decided among themselves that she “consented” to a violation, that she wasn’t truly raped. It’s ridiculous to think that not screaming is the only or best indication of her resistance to this assault, that she should for any reason be obligated to resist or fight at all when faced with such a horrific event, and that her “mental disposition” after the incident or if she delayed filing a report is any indication of what really happened during the attack.
It’s ridiculous, but as you can see from the posts linked above, this is what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe; you can read more about how they have equated rape with fornication in the Rape category of this site.
It may also be ridiculous to think that anyone would use this type of misogynistic, woman-hating, victim-blaming, “let’s rape her all over again by making her explain herself to the elders of her religion” type of thinking for their own defense in a court of law. However, how many other ridiculous, outlandish types of defenses have been used in court, especially for sexual assaults, for the benefit of the defense? How many have been endorsed by judges and juries? Consider:
- In Argentina, two judges slashed the sentence of a child molester because the 6-year-old boy he molested had been previously abused by his father, and they “argued that it was unlikely a child could be equally damaged twice by the same type of abuse. The judges also seemed to indicate that the crime was less deleterious because the child was gay…” See this news story.
- A judge in Orange County, California, said during the sentence of a rapist, “I’m not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something—if someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case. That tells me that the victim in this case, although she wasn’t necessarily willing, she didn’t put up a fight. And to treat this case like the rape cases that we all hear about is an insult to victims of rape. I think it’s an insult. I think it trivializes a rape.” See this news story.
- In New South Wales, “Judge [Garry] Nielson told a court that just as gay sex was socially unacceptable in the 1950s and 1960s but was now widely accepted, ‘a jury might find nothing untoward in the advance of a brother towards his sister once she had sexually matured, had sexual relationships with other men and was now ‘available’, not having a [sexual] partner.'” See this news story.
- In Montana, Judge G. Todd Baugh, “said a teenage rape victim was ‘probably as much in control of the situation as the defendant,’ and that she ‘appeared older than her chronological age.'” See this news story.
Note something very important here; defendants didn’t come out and say “Hey, that 6-year-old I raped was gay,” or “Her body didn’t shut down, she looked older, my sister is fair game.” Judges said these things. If a courtroom judge is so callused and ludicrous so as to say these types of things in their own courtroom, it’s plausible that one might accept the words of a rape defendant when he claims that the woman’s own religion says she consented, therefore no crime occurred. Sickening, but plausible.
Alexandra, What Are You Doing?
Someone reading this might wonder at what I’m doing, putting this possibility out there. Might someone read this column and decide to use this defense after raping a JW woman, perhaps even targeting a Witness woman with this defense in mind?
Yes, someone might. If they do, I hope the media picks up on it and reports it far and wide. People need to understand the obscenities of this religion and its beliefs and teachings, and how they victimize children and women in particular. For years, many people have called Jehovah’s Witnesses a “pedophile’s paradise” because of how they insist on a witness to this abuse before they take any action. Until their official policy was rewritten in 2010, parents were warned against if not forbidden from calling the police in these cases. You can read more about this in the Pedophilia category of this site. In recent years, publicity regarding these cases has increased, so that more and more victims are coming forward and filing lawsuits, writing their life stories, and otherwise talking openly about this abuse.
I can only hope the same happens for rape victims in this religion. This disgusting, archaic thinking, of insisting that a woman scream or otherwise suffer “the disgrace and shame of submitting to an immoral man” (January 15, 1964, Watchtower), saying that she should not “submit to rape, as that would be consenting to fornication” (June 1, 1968, Watchtower), “that if she did not scream she would ruin her relationship with Jehovah God and the Christian congregation; that then she would be disfellowshiped or excommunicated” (March 8, 1974, Awake), is something that should be brought to the attention of the general public. (Please see this page on JWfacts.com for more quotes from Jehovah’s Witnesses about rape.)
I would also hope that Jehovah’s Witnesses understand this sickening teaching and its consequences. It’s very easy to just dismiss the words you read in your religion’s literature without much thought, if those words don’t affect you directly. If you’ve never been raped and don’t know anyone who has, you can easily sit in the Kingdom Hall, read those filthy words, and just nod your head. However, if someone should use these words in their defense in court, perhaps some JWs may sit up and take notice. They will see firsthand how those words insult and degrade women after such a torturous ordeal, and see how grossly incorrect and misogynistic they are as well.
People should understand what Jehovah’s Witnesses do to rape victims, and how they dare to equate a horrific attack to fornication. The mental and emotional abuse they put women through should be made public, and rape crisis counseling centers, lawyers, and prosecutors especially should know what they’re up against when dealing with this religion and its victims. Just as they are truly a “paradise for pedophiles,” the religion is also, in many ways, a paradise for rapists. Their teachings about rape actually insult all rape victims everywhere, but especially victimize women in their own religion, and I’m more than happy to put that out there, no matter the consequences.
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