The rise of 'rape shaming' & Steps to take to report a rape/sexual assault

Decide to add-on to the 3 previous postings, so that students are well aware that they have their rights and to be alert in case of any future reoccurrence because I do not condone such behavior in the dance community. 
As instructors, our role is to provide a safe environment and be the reliable person students can turn to in their times of needs. By taking advantage of being in that role and attack the very students that trusts you is just wrong.

Women who feel the system has failed them are taking to the internet to name their alleged rapists or attackers, as part of a growing trend of digital vigilantism.

It’s known as “rape shaming” and there are several recent examples in Australia of victims using social media to take justice into their own hands.

Police warn that the practice could derail ongoing investigations and hurt the chances of prosecution, not to mention the potential for defamation proceedings brought by those named.

But those who’ve rape shamed say they have no alternative, few regrets and nothing to lose.

Hagar Cohen has spent months investigating the issue for the ABC Radio National show “Background Briefing” and spoke to some 30 women impacted by rape or sexual assault.

Some had named their alleged attackers and others were planning to, spurred on by the belief that the justice system couldn’t — or wouldn’t — help them, she said.

“The women I spoke to felt a desire to protect other people from their abusers and many felt a sense of guilt that if they didn’t do something, they would let down other people,” Cohen said.

One victim who was raped when she was just 15 is preparing to name her attacker online and believes it will bring her some comfort, she said.

From her act of revenge, the man would forever be known as a rapist — an outcome that she felt “wonderful” about.

“She said to me that it would ‘probably be the biggest f–k you’ she could give,” Cohen recalled.

“He had taken so much power from her, she felt powerless, and she thought it would be beneficial to take some back. She said: ‘I just want the whole world to know what a horrible, disgusting person he is.’”

Lauren Ingram is a journalist who in June took to social media to name her alleged rapist, after several failed attempts to have the matter dealt with by authorities over two years.

The first detective told her the man was “just a kid who didn’t know how to have sex yet” and other investigators mishandled evidence, she claimed.

On the day Ingram posted a series of tweets, she hadn’t been planning to identify her alleged attacker until seconds before she did.

“It literally exploded from there,” Cohen said.

Ingram took part in Cohen’s story, who followed her as police interest in the complaint was reignited following the name and shame.

“They called her again and asked her to come in to give a statement,” Cohen said.

“It was the third statement she’s had to give now. Lauren was very compliant and did what she asked but she doesn’t believe anything is going to come from it.”

As well as support, Ingram’s actions drew strong criticism from those who felt she was denying someone the right to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”

It’s a valid point, Cohen admitted.

“It’s an important concept that our society relies on. And it’s true that usually vigilantism often starts as something that seems like a good idea but gets crazy very quickly.”

But that “tricky, dangerous” road is one many desperate women feel compelled to travel.

Another woman was raped in 1997 and her complaint to police didn’t go anywhere until she was contacted six years later when three other victims came forward.

Despite her first experience, she took part in the case — and it unraveled again due to mismanagement, Cohen said.

“So many people have a profound distrust of police and the courts.”

“For many, going to the police in the first place isn’t even an option. They don’t think it’s worth it. When you get that kind of reaction, it seems something is wrong.”

Cohen also spoke to a woman who named her alleged attacker on Facebook and was threatened with a lawsuit as a result.

And she met a man who was shamed online, who insisted he had done nothing wrong.

“He had to flee basically. He changed his name and identity — it was massive for him.”

Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett, commander of New South Wales Police Sex Crimes Squad in southeast Australia, was also interviewed by Cohen and implored victims to let police deal with their matters.

“She pointed out that if public shaming occurs, it could damage the chances of success in court and also damage a police investigation.”

“She has obviously seen first-hand many cases that did achieve an excellent outcome for victims.”

Getting justice for rape and sexual assault

According to the Malaysian Penal Code Section 376, those who committed rape will be punished with imprisonment for a term up to 20 years with whipping.

According to the Malaysian Penal Code:

  • - Rape is defined as sexual intercourse with a woman against her will or without her consent. 
  • - Sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 years of age, with or without her consent, is also rape.
  • - Sexual intercourse with a woman is also rape when: 
    • -- her consent is obtained by putting her in fear of death or hurt; 
    • -- when she unable to understand the nature and consequences of what she is consenting to; 
    • -- or when her consent is obtained by using a position of authority, a professional relationship, or other relationship of trust.

The Malaysian law doesn’t specifically define sexual assault, however, there are various laws that cover different forms of sexual assault. For the complete list, check out Women's Aid Organization's article here.

Now, what can you do as the victim of a rape or sexual assault? These are the steps that you'll be going through.

1. Make a police report.

You can make a police report in Bahasa Malaysia or English, either by typing it yourself at the police station or by orally dictating it to the police officer. You can also draft your report in advance.

In your police report, write down the details of the assault, such as what happened, when it happened (date and estimated time), where it happened, and who was involved. Remember to get a copy of the police report.

2. Police investigate case.

The Investigation Officer (IO) will open an investigation based on the police report you have made. The IO may interview witnesses, suspects, and may also ask you to give a further statement at the police station.

Depending on the evidence, the IO may bring the case to the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP). The DPP will determine whether there is a case to charge against the perpetrator. 

If there is insufficient evidence, the case will be closed and classified as ‘No Further Action’ (NFA). Then, there will be no charge.

3. Deputy Public Prosecutor charges case.

If the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) decides that there is sufficient evidence, the DPP will charge the suspect. The charge will be read in court and the suspect can either plead guilty or not guilty.

If the suspect pleads guilty, the case will proceed to sentencing. However, if the suspect pleads ‘not guilty’, a full trial begins.

4. Court Trials

The trial process will begin with the prosecution stage, in which the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) calls witnesses to give their testimony. Following that, the defence lawyer (who is the person defending the accused) will cross-examine the witness; this means, the defence lawyer will ask another set of questions directed at the witness. The DPP then re-examines the witness (by asking questions) in order to explain any doubtful or contradictory answer given by the witness during cross-examination.

If the judge decides that the evidence is strong enough to show that the accused has committed the crime (i.e. there is a prima facie case), the defence lawyer will begin the defence. At this stage, the defence lawyer will call witnesses to give evidence suggesting that the crime did not happen. The same three-step cross-examination process occurs, except this time, the defence lawyer begins the cross-examination, followed by the DPP, and then the defence lawyer again.

The judge will then decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty. If guilty, the judge will sentence the accused.

* This is a simplified version of the court trial process. For the full process, refer to

Michael Yip

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