Tuesday, September 15

Sexual Assault Reporting & Victim's Rights

The recent arrest of Phillip Garrido for the kidnapping and sexual assault of Jaycee Dugard raises interesting questions about sexual assault in the media, and the rights of a victim in the public eye.

Jaycee Dugard was allegedly kidnapped by Phillip Garrido and his wife when she was 11 years. She was rescued after 18 years of living in captivity, and was recently reunited with her family. After her rescue, it was also found that Jaycee had given birth to two daughters with Garrido.

Jaycee spent 18 years living with a man who likely assaulted her repeatedly, and must now face public scrutiny as both a kidnapped child returned to her family as well as a sexual assault victim. Although the names of her daughters have not been released, it seems unlikely that they will remain anonymous for long given the media scrutiny on their mother.

Jaycee's situation presents an interesting and troubling situation from a survivor perspective. Although her family was understandably overjoyed to be reunited with their long-lost child, the very public nature of her return has allowed the media to report details of her kidnapping and sexual assault with little regard for her status as a victim. Jaycee's young daughters will also face a public record that label their father as a kidnapper and rapist.

The question then remains, does the public interest in Jaycee's return negate her rights as a survivor?
Should the media have reported the likely sexual assault, as well as the paternity of her children?
Is the loss of Jaycee's privacy in this traumatic situation more important than the right of the press to report information?