Survivors cannot trust justice system mocking sexism, racism

ENOLA - December 9, 2015 -The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape embraces a set of core values to guide our work to end sexual violence and advocate for the rights and needs of victims of sexual assault. It appears that officials within PA's courts and justice system would benefit from a similar guide.

PCAR embraces diversity and is committed to multiculturalism. To that end, we challenge assumptions and subjectivity that attempt to devalue individuals and silence their voices; we seek to confront oppression in all its forms. Additionally, this means we are committed to increasing awareness of how of oppression and inequality are used to dehumanize people and excuse sexual violence, and to creating safe spaces where survivors can be heard and valued.

We are outraged, frustrated, and disheartened to learn that officials entrusted with positions of authority to oversee justice in Pennsylvania not only do not share these values, but flagrantly mock them as is evident by the racist, sexist, classist, homophobic and pornographic content of emails exchanged between officials throughout the justice and court systems.

These are individuals that are trusted in the Commonwealth to uphold our laws, treat everyone with respect and honor equality.

Yet, these individuals shared pictures that include a degrading image of a naked, obese woman on all fours with pig ears; a photo of an unconscious college girl on a floor captioned, "Thank you Mr. Jack Daniels" and another of an intoxicated young woman titled "DRUNK COLLEGE GIRLS this could become interesting."

That this took place on tax payer dollars is deplorable.

That it takes place at all is despicable.

To prevent sexual violence we must change this culture that supports and exploits inequality. Effective prevention strategies make the connection between all forms of oppression (including racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and others). They talk about how pornography, for example, contributes to a culture that allows inequality to thrive and makes sexual violence seem normal.

It isn't normal. It isn't acceptable. Not in our state government, not in our society.

Victims of sexual abuse, and all people in the Commonwealth, should be able to trust the highest ranking officials in our criminal justice and court systems are working to change the culture that breeds violence and harm to families and communities.

As long as this kind of behavior is allowed to continue, and those who have participated are allowed to serve, we can expect victims of rape, sexual abuse and exploitation to fear and avoid the justice system.

These officials were entrusted to act in ways that preserve the public's trust – instead, they have eroded our trust and made a mockery of justice. It is no wonder sexual assault is the most under-reported crime.

About PCAR:

Founded in 1975, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape advocates for the rights and needs of sexual assault victims and works to end sexual violence. PCAR partners with a network of rape crisis programs to bring help, hope and healing around issues of sexual violence to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. To learn more, go to

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