The rights of the victims of sexual assaults, abuse, or rape have evolved dramatically in since the days of the hush-hush nature of sex crimes. In the past, female victims of sex abuse were blamed. Male victims of sex abuse rarely reported the crime. Victims of sex crimes haven’t always have the ability to participate in or attend criminal proceedings against the perpetrator of the sex crime. Additionally, victims haven’t always been able to ask for monetary compensation from the criminals. In 2006, a specific law was passed to protect victims that included increased supervision of sex offenders (History, 2014). Also, the penalties for sex crimes have become more stringent than they were in the past.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, today, victims of sex crimes have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect. They also have the rights to be informed, to participate in the criminal prosecution process, to apply for compensation, and to have a timely disposition of their case (Victims’ rights, 2014). There may be additional rights in each state, such as the California law that gives victims the right to have an informed status of their rape kit and whether or not a DNA match has been made (Victims’ rights, 2014).
While the status of sex crime victims’ rights has improved, there are still improvements that can be made to ensure that rights the victims of sex crimes are maintained and protected. For one thing, victims of sex crimes need to be more easily able to bring charges against a spouse or domestic partner. These types of sexual abuse cases are often considered domestic situations rather than crimes. Another issue is the stigma of what a victim should look like. If they do not fit the description of what a “model” victim should look like, or if a victim has a sexual history that society would deem improper, a sex abuse victim may experience bias when reporting the sex crime (Gentleman, 2014) or when the criminal is tried for the crime.
- Gentleman, A. (2014). Change is long overdue for sex abuse victims. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/law/2014/apr/02/victims-law-keir-starmer
- History of the crime victims’ movement on the United States. (2014). California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. Retrieved from http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/historical_landmarks.html#2006
- Victims’ rights and sexual assault kit. (2014). The National Center for Victims of Crime. Retrieved from http://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/dna-resource-center/untested-sexual-assault-kits/victims%27-rights-and-sexual-assault-kits