Assange Case Issue: Do Rape Victims Deserve Anonymity?


Rape victims' right to anonymity has been in the issue in the case of Wikileaks' Julian Assange, with two leading exponents of women's rights taking different sides. Wendy Murphy, a former sex crimes prosecutor, writes for Women's eNews that both arguments miss the main point: protecting a rape victim's constitutional right to privacy. Naomi Wolf and Katha Pollitt published opposing pieces on whether the women described as Julian Assange's alleged sexual assault victims should be identified in the press against their will.

Pollitt argues against disclosure. She emphasizes that it will deter reporting and cause needless harm to people who have suffered enough. Wolf says all victims should be named because anonymity is a “relic” from a time when women suffered shame for being raped because it undermined her “value” to be known as the damaged “property” of her husband or father. Forced disclosure of victims' identities in rape cases, Wolf says, will promote women's equality by putting that idea to bed. Murphy argues that Wolf is wrong and Pollitt takes the wrong path to get there: Not naming U.S. victims has little to do with stigma, and everything to do with the Constitution.


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