Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Marriott stops blaming rape victim for attack  

There was a well-deserved backlash after the Marriott claimed a woman who was raped in the hotel parking lot was careless and partly at fault for her attack. But thankfully, the Marriott was rescinded its victim-blaming defense.

Women's advocates said Marriott's handling of the case is every rape victim's nightmare come true — and a major reason why rape remains one of the most underreported crimes, despite changes like shield laws that make a victim's sexual history irrelevant.

"The fear of being blamed for being raped is one of the most common reasons that victims of sexual assault don't come forward," said Nancy Kushins, executive director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services.

Defenses that blame the victim to some extent are not uncommon, as insurance companies try to minimize their losses. But Jim Nugent, chairman of the litigation section of the Connecticut Bar Association, said doing so in this case would be odd, given the especially horrific nature of a rape witnessed by the victim's children.

Good news indeed, but the hotel's lawyers should have never developed this defense in the first place. Victim-blaming is inexcusable.

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