Why isn’t the Richmond gang rape being treated as a hate crime?

Thursday, October 29th, 2009 · 24 Comments »

That’s a rhetorical question, of course. If you read my post yesterday about hate crimes (or even if you didn’t), you know why.

But the Richmond case provides an unusually clear-cut example of how violence against women, just because they’re women (as opposed to black/immigrant/Jewish/gay women), is considered normal. Why? Because it was in this very same town last year that the gang rape of a gay woman was prosecuted as a hate crime.

The facts of that earlier case: On December 13, 2008, a 28-year-old lesbian was gang-raped by four men in Richmond, California. The four men, who were aged 31, 21, 16, and 15, assaulted the woman as she was leaving her car. They raped her multiple times over the course of 45 minutes, robbed her, left her naked outside an abandoned building, and drove off in her car. What made it a hate crime in the eyes of law enforcement? The woman had a rainbow gay pride sticker on her car, and, according to police, the rapists taunted her for being a lesbian.

This latest gang rape case is similar: same town, same crime, even the same police officer investigating (Lt. Mark Gagan). Rape, kidnapping, robbery, abandonment of the victim outside. There’s no gay pride sticker this time, but we do have a two-hour spectacle with multiple bystanders taking pictures and even joining in. Sure sounds like a hate crime to me. But then, I’m a woman.

It’s weird, isn’t it? How invisible misogyny is, I mean. The lesbian gang rape was a hate crime, no question. But the men who gang-raped that girl Saturday night were just as full of hatred for womankind, just as full of determination to degrade a random member of a hated group, as those other guys were full of hatred for lesbians. In fact, the whole thing almost has the flavor of a lynching about it, what with the spectators and the jocularity.

I understand that the Richmond D.A. is looking for ways to charge the bystanders who watched the gang rape and didn’t report it. Perhaps she might look into the California hate crime statute. Just a thought.

Filed under: Rape · Tags:

24 Responses to “Why isn’t the Richmond gang rape being treated as a hate crime?”

  1. SHV says:

    CAL. PEN. CODE § 422.55 : California Code – Section 422.55

    (a)”Hate crime” means a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim
    (1)Disability.
    (2)Gender.
    (3)Nationality.
    (4)Race or ethnicity.
    (5)Religion.
    (6)Sexual orientation.
    (7)Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
    (b)”Hate crime” includes, but is not limited to, a violation of Section 422.6.
    (snip)
    CAL. PEN. CODE § 422.6 : California Code – Section 422.6
    (a)No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim listed in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55.

    (the penalty if pathetic, IMO)

    (c)Any person convicted of violating subdivision (a) or (b) shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000),

  2. monchichipox says:

    It’s like it’s just getting worse. I don’t want to keep bringing it up but I feel the last election seemed like the permission slip. Or at least part of it. What’s sadder is the state of the media. I was just watching a story on a certain new network that I won’t name. They were detailing a media watchdog report on television violence. In the last year violence against women on prime time TV shows increased 120%.

  3. Michele Braa-Heidner says:

    “CAL. PEN. CODE § 422.6 : California Code – Section 422.6
    (a)No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim listed in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55.”

    It is the very nature of patriarchy to “willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten” women!!

  4. SweetSue says:

    The rape victim is fifteen years old and the bystanders took pictures with cell phones.
    Could the souless bastards be charged with possessing and distributing kiddie porn?

  5. Melissa says:

    As appalled as I am about this case, I think no, it is not a hate crime. If it is a hate crime, wouldn’t every rape have to be considered a hate crime? Even if a man is raped. This is the slippery slope that opponents to hate crime legislation are fearful of. I am a supporter of hate crime legislation, but you have to be careful about how and when to apply that.

  6. anna says:

    Off Topic: Did Senator Franken’s amendment to the Defense Appropriations Law (the amendment saying defense contractors have to allow their employees access to US courts if the employee brings a rape or sexual assualt case against the contractor) become law? I must know and nobody is reporting.

  7. Honora says:

    SweetSue- Sounds good to me.

  8. angie says:

    Melissa — every rape IS a hate crime. Men don’t rape because they want sex. They rape because they want to debase/abuse the woman whom they are raping.

  9. gxm17 says:

    Melissa, yes, if a woman is targeted for rape because of her gender (and most are) then it’s a hate crime. Just as the Austin serial rapist targeted young HS/college age men, that too would be a hate crime. It is about damn time that rape is treated as the violent hate crime it is and not confused with a “normal” aspect of human behavior and/or sexuality.

  10. Grace says:

    There is a strong resistance to qualify rape as a hate crime. Why? Because women tend to be blamed for their victimization. In order to qualify as a “true victim” the woman would have to be: a “certified” virgin assaulted while being at home and locked up in her closet, dressed as a nun or preferably covered up with a black burka. It would also require 2 witnesses (preferably men) who would testify that the woman actively fought the rapist and show bruises and cuts as proof. And even then, believe it or not, somebody will find something to blame her.

    At a psychological level, victim-blaming sometimes sadly serves to assuade people’s fears. It goes something like this in their minds: “These people were raped, robbed, taken advantage of, killed, etc., because they had poor judgment, they shouldn’t have been there, walking after dark, drinking, etc., etc. But I am safe because I am doing the right things. It will never happen to me.”

    Until it does….

  11. Mec says:

    In the news today: one suspect released for insufficient evidence; four suspects arraigned with charges of rape plus several more charges plus enhancements for a life sentence. One more suspect arrested but not charged yet.

    Defendants aged 15, 16, and 17 to be tried as adults,

  12. Sasha, CA says:

    Yes, I recall thinking the same thing back when the gang rape of the lesbian woman in Richmond occurred. The case got a lot of attention and was immediately called a hate crime for the sole reason that the victim was targeted — in part — because of her sexual orientation. I couldn’t help but think of the many equally horrific rapes that occur every day but get virtually no attention because the victim is targeted “only” because of her gender and the rapist uses “only” misogynistic slurs during the assault. Many people (like Melissa here) have no trouble seeing a hate crime when someone who is black or gay is targeted because of their race or sexual orientation, but when a woman is targeted because of her gender (as is the case with most rapes), we suddenly “have to be careful about how and when to apply [hate crime legislation]“. The problem is that misogyny and sexism are so ubiquitous in our society as to be practically invisible. People being targeted because of their race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation — that’s unacceptable. But people being targeted because of their gender — hey, that’s just the way things are. Women and girls just need to learn to be more careful and not to bring these things on themselves . . .

  13. Sameol says:

    A slippery slope to what, women being treated like human beings?

  14. Gayle says:

    “As appalled as I am about this case, I think no, it is not a hate crime. If it is a hate crime, wouldn’t every rape have to be considered a hate crime? Even if a man is raped.”

    What’s wrong with every rape being considered a hate crime? Every rape IS a hate crime.

  15. SHV says:

    “(A person convicted of a hate crime) shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000)”
    *********
    They need to give the law some teeth…A year?? $5k fine??? How about adding 10 years in prison to the felony conviction…

  16. Myytinmurtaja says:

    Holy! In other words: In Richmond, on a public street, a human being was tortured just because she was a woman.

    If this does not qualify as a hate crime, I really, really don’t want to know what does.

  17. bruce nahin says:

    In california a hate crime is not really a separate crime but a sentence enhancement. Rape is punishable by years in California prisons and is considered a violent crime for the three strikes law and other violent crime enhancements as well. The criminal serves 85% of his time, instead of lesser amounts, parole is more stringent, his housing is different, he has violence enhancements added etc.Arguably then if all rape is a “hate crime, ” then the crime of rape is already being treated as a hate crime.

  18. bruce nahin says:

    Michelle, color of law means acting under the authority of law, ie a peace officer

  19. teresainpa says:

    yeah, but who doesn’t hate women? Even other women hate women.
    I wish this was snark

  20. Daphne says:

    From the S.F. Chronicle: Donations for the Richmond High School rape victim may be sent to: Richmond High Jane Doe, account No. 041-30-1188, Mechanics Bank, 3170 Hilltop Mall Road, Richmond, CA 94806. (You can also use this address to send her a note of encouragement.)

  21. Gang rape as entertainment | Reclusive Leftist says:

    [...] stories about the Richmond gang rape are starting to piss me off. “How could it have happened?” people say. “What [...]

  22. FemiSex says:

    I just noted this on Twitter and very glad to see it! we pushed hard on this on Blog Her forum and our site as well. so so happy to see this post!

  23. sherry says:

    I agree completely. I can’t imagine a more hateful crime.

  24. Ereshkigal says:

    Wow. I tripped onto this page while working on a college paper. I can’t tell you how disgusted I am about this, I wouldn’t know where to begin! I thought I was pretty up to speed on how screwed up things are for women, (being one myself lol), but this has just floored me! Seems I have a lot to learn about this fight for equality and respect.
    I am also apalled that anyone would imply she brought this on herself! Drinking, flirting, nice shoes…. reasons to be raped? No. It’s simpler then that. It seems that there are only 2 things needed to be subject to rape….
    Show up
    Bring a vagina.