being a mom

Dear White House, Actually Federal Intervention Is Sorely Needed In The Steubenville Rape Case

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shutterstock_124193854It was just announced that The White House has declined the petition to investigate the Steubenville rape case, a petition that had more than 30,000 signatures, and The White House cannot make a comment because it “requests a specific law enforcement action.”

Municipal and state officials have not gone far enough in investigating people at the party and their roles for not stopping the alleged attack. Despite screen shots, videos, and witness testimony no additional charges will be brought against the self-proclaimed Steubenville “Rape Crew,” a name that they coined themselves, that they have described themselves with proudly, that they have used in social media, that they have brandished as a point of pride amongst their peers. This “Rape Crew” can go on with their lives, they can apply to colleges, compete in athletics, fall in love, marry, have children and grow old, all with no repercussions from the law.

I don’t know the victim in this case. There are reports that she is “okay” and that she is “doing as well as expected.” I do know myself, as a woman, as a mother to a young daughter, and to think that in America, in a country that is so rich, and so free, and so privileged, that this privilege can be extended to people witnessing the brutal crime of rape and doing nothing to report it shows that despite our wealth of privilege in this country – this doesn’t extend to victims of violent crime. The federal government failing to intervene in this case is failing all of us, as women, as mothers, as daughters, as sisters, as so many of us are Jane Doe.

I don’t have faith that justice will be served in Steubenville. Even though I know that there are good, decent people working towards justice being served, I know that it isn’t enough. If it were enough, there would be a lot more people charged in this case other than Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond. This case is no longer about a town that has fallen on hard times in Ohio where football is everything and high school athletes are seen as heroes, no matter what their behavior. This case is no longer about some simple party where “things got out of hand” when a girl drank too much. It’s about all of us. It’s bigger than all of us. It goes beyond an alleged rape, and it extends to what we are teaching our children about behavior, about doing the right thing, about responsibility, about rape. The government intervening would help justice being served, and would send an all-too-clear message that rape culture and the victimization of women and children (because yes, in many ways I consider a 16-year-old girl a child) is not tolerated in these United States.

We are women, we are mothers, we are daughters, sisters, aunts and Jane Does.  And men. And we vote. I urge you to reconsider.

(photo: Patrick Poendl/Shutterstock)