Awareness of sexual assault against women has skyrocketed in recent years. Thanks to the #MeToo movement, even big names like Harvey Weinstein are being held accountable for their crimes. Women are finally standing up as a united front against rapists and abusers. And, it seems that no one is above accusation, including big Hollywood names, and even top authors like Junot Diaz. No one, that is, except perhaps the police force.
While we’ve made tremendous progress, we still have a fair way to come. And, that’s especially the case when it comes to sexual abuse committed by police officers. It’s worrying how little of the sexual assault conversation is currently aimed towards the people. Once you start looking into the issue, a shocking amount of sexual misconduct takes place here, with few cases even getting to court.
In many ways, this comes as no surprise. But, even those who have long lost their faith in the police force would be shocked to hear the truth here. Take, for instance, a case from September 15th last year. Less than a month before accusations against Weinstein came to light, two plain-clothes officers in New York detained and allegedly raped an 18-year-old-girl. Testing proved sexual activity had taken place, though both officers claimed the act was consensual. However, the girl was handcuffed and incapacitated. Not to mention the fact that, consensual or not, a sexual act in a situation like this a gross misuse of power.
Luckily, April this year saw a new law in New York which eliminates an officer’s right to claim consent from a detainee. But, that doesn’t cover the fact that sexual misconduct is the second most frequently reported officer crime, falling foul only to excessive force. Yet, we speak often about the force used by police officers, while barely hearing anything about sexual accusations. Still, it’s thought an officer has been caught in an act of sexual misconduct every five days for the last decade. What’s more, at least a quarter of these cases involve minors. And, that’s only the cases we know about. There’s every chance that the situation is even worse.
Of course, that’s not to say every officer is guilty. Only last week, a Texas woman falsely accused an officer of sexually assaulting her. Later investigation of that officer’s camera footage revealed the accusation was false. And, that’s not the only incident of a false claim. Due to such cases, it’s fair to say police officers have as much right to misconduct defense as anybody. Sadly, though, accusations are often proven true with scientific testing.
Why is, it, then, that our police force has managed to evade real attention in the #MeToo movement? In truth, this may mainly be down to fear. Going against the very people who employ the law is undeniably petrifying. But, most women would agree that it’s past time we accepted such awful behavior from those who should protect us. Perhaps, then, a conversation needs to open into this issue, too.