The problem I have here is that we’re framing this in terms of belief vs. disbelief. Believing someone who is making an accusation against another person necessarily means we’ve decided the accused is guilty. Evidence matters. Due process matters. Our justice system, if it is functioning properly, should neither believe nor disbelieve either the accuser or the accused initially. Nor do we want prospective jurors who are strangers to both the victim and the accused out there making up their mind about cases before they are in possession of all the facts an investigation might uncover.

Until a thorough investigation is completed and more facts have come in, I’m not too comfortable with the expectation that we all decide as soon as an accusation hits our Twitter feed that it must be true because it is being made by a woman or someone who claims to be a victim. There have been cases of real rape in which the attacker was falsely identified by the victim (see article linked to below). It’s possible for both the person stating they’ve been victimized and those protesting their innocence to be telling the truth. And lest we forget the panic surrounding certain cases involving allegations of mass ritual child abuse at daycare centers in the 80s and 90s, there have also been cases where false accusations ruined the lives and reputations of many people. Instead of “believe women” or “believe survivors” how about believing every accuser and accused alike deserves to be heard and deserves a thorough investigation. In the meantime, while the rest of us wait for that to be completed, everyone involved deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Giving up our belief in due process won’t lead to more justice. It will ultimately lead to less.

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US citizen residing in British Columbia, Canada. Degrees include anthropology and environmental studies. Activism, politics, science, nature.

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