Naming names

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Unfortunately, not much has changed since Tiffany Devitt and I wrote an op-ed on the issue of naming the victims in sexual assault cases that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor in 1991 (there is also a piece I did research for).

Then it was NBC and the New York Times which named the woman who accused William Kennedy Smith. Now it is internet sites and the radio host Tom Leykis (the Smoking Gun has posted a police report from when he was charged with domestic violence). The info on the net included the woman’s address, phone number and email as well as photos which turned out to be another woman she went to high school with. Knowing the woman’s name doesn’t add anything to to the story, but it may discourage victims from reporting sexual assaults if they think their names will be revealed without their permission.

What is still needed is better coverage of sexual assault and violence against women in general (though men are victims too, it is still mostly women). Coverage of how well the police and courts deal with cases, on whether there is enough funding for rape crisis centers and programs for education and prevention, and many other issues. The resources of news organizations would be better spent exploring some of those topics rather than sending reporters to Colorado.

Originally posted on my blog, Tiger Beat.

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