If you’re unaware as to who Brett Kavanaugh is, I’m sure you’ve not glanced at the news recently. The Supreme Court nominee, accused of attempted sexual assault, who despite the odds, became a Supreme Court Justice and proved that in America, when a woman accuses a man of sexual misconduct, she is the liar. A pattern we have unfortunately seen repeated time and time again.
Dr Christine Blasey Ford had received “actual threats to her safety and her life” before appearing in front of the Senate judiciary committee to testify against the then-nominee Kavanaugh. Despite numerous witnesses to the attempted assault, including a high school friend of Kavanaugh’s who is alleged to have been present in the room during the attempted assault, Ford’s accusation was dismissed as being ‘politically charged’ by many. But the theme of dismissing sexual assault claims as ‘lies’ or ‘opportunistic’ isn’t new, and neither is it uncommon. The world has a problem believing a claim of sexual misconduct, and I don’t know why. According to a 2015 report by the National Sexual Violence Resource Centre, the prevalence of false reporting sexual violence in the United States is only between 2% and 10%. Considering that the report also states, “a study of eight U.S. communities, which included 2,059 cases of sexual assault, found a 7.1% rate of false reports” why can’t we believe the people who are brave enough to come forward to speak about their trauma?
Three women including Ford came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. There is no excuse of ‘it was a mistake he made once’ (an incredibly weak excuse at that – rape is rape, attempted rape is no different; that’s not a mistake, that’s a choice to violate someone) Kavanaugh had a pattern of violating women. And still, the highest court in America took his side.
In 2017, Brett Kavanaugh was on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and ruled against a 17-year-old undocumented teenager who was attempting to obtain an abortion. Jane Doe, who did not want her identity revealed throughout the case, arrived in the
United States without her parents and was taken into the U.S. Custody. She was pregnant and was aiming to exercise her constitutional right to obtain a legal abortion; this right extends not only to United States citizens, but also foreigners within the US. Kavanaugh had delayed her ability to obtain a legal abortion and claimed that the government should not facilitate her abortion, but at 15 weeks pregnant, her window was closing. Kavanaugh stated “she is pregnant and has to make a major life decision”, but his action in ruling against her plea seems to claim that he believed having an abortion was more life altering than having a child which would have been unwanted, and a child Jane Doe would have been unable to financially support. Jane Doe eventually obtained the right to legally obtain an abortion within the United States, but it was she who gained much of the backlash for the decision, not those who voted against her. A tweet by Teen Vogue columnist, Lauren Duca stated “It seems to me that when Brett Kavanaugh attempted to deny a 17-year-old immigrant an abortion, he believed that the decisions you make as a minor ought to have lifelong consequences. Let’s treat him the same way”.
Let's treat him the same way. The old 'boys will be boys' line is dated and inexcusable. Kavanaugh's actions in the attempted sexual assault when he was a teenager doesn't mean he can't still be held accountable for his actions now. Jane Doe will be seen as the immigrant who got rid of her baby, and yet Brett Kavanaugh's attempted sexual assault and the many claims which have also come to light have been dismissed and he now holds a position of power high enough to be influential in cases such as his in the future. And you know which way he'll vote then. America's poor judgement seems sewn into its history; a man who was accused of rape is now their President, their history of gun violence is unchanged and they are breaking their own record year after year with the worst mass shootings in American history. It's shocking that a man like Kavanaugh could go through such a heavily-followed case which included numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and still be awarded with one of the highest seats at the table. It's shocking. But it's not surprising.
From the Harvey Weinstein story of last year, to the MeToo campaign, to the Kavanaugh case, the world has proven that barely anyone believes those who have accused others of sexual misconduct. We typically believe the accused, and I’m sick of it.
I believe her. I believe him. I believe those who have come forward with their stories. Sexual misconduct is a matter which shouldn’t be taken lightly. But it’s a topic where we have consistently let down those who must fight to even be heard. Please let it stop.
By Tirion Davies