How rape culture shapes whether a survivor is believed

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 15:41 in Psychology & Sociology

A hallmark of the #MeToo movement has been to make plain the ubiquity of sexual violence against women and the impunity with which some perpetrators get away it again and again. Rape is the nation’s most underreported violent crime, according to U.S. Justice Department statistics, as survivors fear that juries will believe the perpetrators, not them, and if they pursue justice, they may suffer further physical, economic, or social harm. This stacked deck, known as “rape culture,” is the set of social attitudes about sexual assault that leads to survivors being treated with skepticism and even hostility, while perpetrators are shown empathy and imbued with credibility not conferred on people accused of other serious crimes, like armed robbery. New research from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Dara Kay Cohen, Ford Foundation Associate Professor of Public Policy, Matthew Baum, Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications, and Susanne Schwarz, M.P.P. ’15, finds that rape culture...

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