Justice Served to Police Officer who raped 13 Women
Tuesday 15th December 2015 | Aisha
A police officer Daniel Holtzlcaw has been found guilty on 18 out of 36 charges. These include rape, oral sodomy and sexual battery. On Thursday he was convicted guilty and sentenced to over 230 years in prison. The horrific crimes occurred whilst he was on duty, often resulting from him using the excuse to search black women in areas where crime is prevalent. Consequently, the trial brought forth women activists, civil rights and discourses of race. The 29 year old sobbed uncontrollably in the courtroom as his verdict was read out and continued to shout ‘I didn’t do it’ as he was handcuffed.
68% of victims never report their rape and 98% of rapists never suffer the consequences of their atrocious actions. However, this is more common when the rapist is a friend or relative in comparison to a stranger. Why then did only 8 out of 13 women testify against Holtzclaw? Because he’s a police officer. A supposed emblem of justice, dignity and law enforcement. Two survivors explained their reasoning behind this:
“I didn’t know what to think and I didn’t know what to do”, said another. “Like, what am I going to do, call the cops? He was a cop.”
“Who are they going to believe? It’s my word against his because I’m a woman and, you know, like I said, he’s a police officer.”
Furthermore, Holtzclaw perverted his position of power and used the system to his advantage to abuse women from the ages of 17 to 50. Although none of the victims knew each other, he specifically raped women living in lower socio-economic backgrounds. Many of the women had a history of drugs and prostitution. They thereby already feared the police and knew that if they were to report the rape, their backgrounds would mitigate their accusations. In fact, the survivors were questioned at court about their unlawful activities in order to discredit their claims and further devalue them. Were it not for the 17 year old victim’s DNA found on the crotch of Holtzclaw’s uniform, he may still be walking as a free man.
Why are we just hearing about it now?
Would you have heard about this violent incident were it not for social media? The fact that it is not dominant in mainstream media further reveals the marginalisation of black lives, black womanhood in particular. This story therefore requires much more recognition because thousands continue to face such traumas; the perverse structures firmly rooted in society thus need to be exposed. Although this may seem like a victory, cultural critic Kirsten West Savali declares that it is ‘fuel to keep fighting’.
We live in an age where police brutality against people of colour is both tolerated and encouraged. Being a woman of colour means your voice is more likely to be silenced. We need to fight sexism and racism – one cannot be fought without the other.
Additionally, with the lack of data and reporting solely on this case, we must reconsider statistics and question how often this actually happens and why it happens? Systematic oppression exists. The abuse and fetishisation that black women suffered during slavery has perpetuated itself into American society since. This is just one example of the vulnerability of women of colour to police brutality. It is a bigger epidemic than we know of.