Controversy

Since the #MeToo movement, should all women’s allegations be believed (i.e.: "believe all women")?

 
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WRITTEN BY
May 22 10:11 pm


Veronica

Remember the Salem Witch Trials [1]? Let’s not repeat history! It would be nice to believe all accusers are telling the truth, but that is not always the case. In 2012, multiple studies were examined in order to determine the rate of false sexual assault allegations. It was concluded that up to 10% of allegations were found to be baseless or unfounded by police investigators [2]. While this is not an overwhelming percentage, it proves false accusations against innocent people happen. This is why our court system places the burden of proof on the prosecution and not the defense, and it’s why the Fourteenth Amendment prevents citizens from losing their rights without “due process of law” [3]. However, this is not just an American ideal. The eleventh article in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the accused’s “right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial” [4]. These statutes have been put in place throughout history for a reason — to protect innocent life. Our culture has shifted for the better after the shocking and horrible revelations of the #MeToo movement as many women have bravely come forward, leading to a revolution that will truly protect future generations of women against sexual misconduct. However, especially in the wake of such enormous scandals, the accused must not lose rights prior to proof of guilt. If we decide to presume guilt instead of innocence, we will end up with a very ugly picture of injustice.


Rida

Opponents of believing all women usually cite cases of false accusations. However, only Between 2-10% of sexual assault allegations are 'false' in the United States [1]. In contrast, about 63% of sexual assaults are never reported to authorities due to the fear of retaliation and familial dishonor [2].

Out of the statistical minority labeled as “false,” most sexual assault allegations are often actually in the “unfounded” category in the eyes of the law, which means that there was not enough tangible evidence to prove claims [3]. Is that surprising? When victims are abused physically and emotionally, they can take years to come forward because of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, guilt, and embarrassment. At that point, there's not much physical evidence left to corroborate claims leading to dismissals [4,5.6].

What do we expect women to do? Have superhuman mental courage to speak up immediately and be prodded by doctors and expose themselves to even more guilt and shame to feel validated? And what if there was no exchange of bodily fluids? Does that mean it wasn’t sexual harassment? No. 

It simply means that in a situation of circumstantial evidence, men have disproportionately held more power in our legal system.

Additionally, not believing women leads to agenda-focused victim prioritization. For example, champions of Justice Kavanaugh and President Trump’s alleged victims are now conveniently choosing to ignore the allegations against Vice President Biden as that aligns with their political agendas [7,8,9].

Selective belief in women means going backward, not forwards.

Fact Box

  • The Me Too (or #MeToo) movement was started in the social media context in 2006 by civil rights activist Tarana Burke [1]. The hashtag sprung to popularity after the Harvey Weinstein story broke the news circuit in fall 2017 [2].
  • In September 2018, in response to the Kavanaugh hearings, prominent politicians [3] and celebrities [4] said to believe women are telling the truth when coming forward with sexual allegations.
  • Major news outlets initially delayed reporting Tara Reade’s recent March 2020 allegations against presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden. When comparing the news response to Reade’s allegations vs the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, news outlets reported 90-100+ times each within 6 days following Ford’s allegations. 6 days following Reade’s, the above news outlets reported 0 times [5].  
  • The Constitution’s 14th Amendment (passed by Congress in 1866 and ratified in 1868) guarantees special protections for American citizens, including due process of law. “Due process” is a legal ideal that originates as far back as the Magna Carta (1215) [6]. Due process is essential to the right to be presumed “innocent until proven guilty” [7].

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