|Posted on March 17, 2011 at 8:47 PM|
Florida State Representative Kathleen Passidomo has been expressing some dangerous and unacceptable viewpoints in the legislature and media. Here are some links to what she's been saying:
And what's even more disgusting is she is using the trauma of this child rape victim to "pimp" her own legislation. As if boys not having sagging pants or girls wearing less "prostitute-looking" clothing is going to prevent rape.
Please make your VOICE heard and send emails, letters, phone calls, and formal complaints. I do not believe this woman should be in office as one of Florida's elected officials representing us in the legislature.
I have heard she's only received a "few emails". I think she needs to be receiving a lot more.....
If you go to her page at www.myfloridahouse.gov , you can click on "Email Representative". Below is her information, and my personal letter I sent which you can feel free to use as a template or any of the information included in it.
Representative Kathleen Passidomo:
1003 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
...Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 488-4487
3299 Tamiami Trail East
Naples, FL 34112-5746
Phone: (239) 417-6200
Dear Representative Passidomo,
I am writing in reference to your recent comments regarding the 11 year-old victim of gang-rape by 18 males. These comments included:
“There was an article about an 11 year old girl who was gang-raped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute," Passidomo declared.
"And her parents let her attend school like that. And I think it's incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn’t happen to our students, “she added.
In all honesty, I’m unsure where to even begin with everything that is wrong with what you have said and how you have characterized the crime committed against this child. However, I will do my best in the hopes that you and others will abandon this type of victim-blaming behavior and place the focus where it belongs: on the choices of the perpetrators who commit rape.
1) Rape/sexual battery is defined under (Florida) law as a penetration without consent, and “does not require any force or violence beyond the force and violence that is inherent in the accomplishment of ‘penetration’ or ‘union.’ “Period. An 11 year-old cannot give consent as a minor under the law.
2) Blaming the victim for how she dressed or behaved is an archaic and damaging societal myth. Your words explicitly say “she was raped….because she was dressed like a 21 year old prostitute.” No, she was raped because 18 boys decided to rape her. As a representative in our Florida legislature, women and men expect more of you.
3) A 21 year old prostitute does not deserve to be raped either, nor should she be blamed for it due to her profession or her dress, as you seem to indicate. We all have free will; a woman (or man) has the right to consent or not consent to sex and a perpetrator can CHOOSE or choose NOT to rape.
4) I think safety would be better created if people like YOU, our elected officials, our public workers, etc. decided to focus their actions on those who are committing the crime of rape, and not on any actions of the victim nor what you believe she may or may not have done to have somehow encouraged it to happen.
5) Here’s “what happened in Texas”: 18 males MADE THE DECISION, of their own free will, to rape a child. God forbid it, or anything like it, does happen here in Florida, I desperately hope no one attempts to solve the problem by focusing on “proper attire” for school instead of the actual crime that occurred and the true roots of that issue.
6) Protection from the threat of rape has nothing to do with attire. As you said: “My whole comment was, how do we protect these kids from predators? One of the ways is to teach them how to dress appropriately”. No, that was not your comment at all, and if that’s what you meant—You are still wrong. Prevention of sexual assault has nothing to do with dressing appropriately; it has to do with changing the culture (which you promote with your words) that accepts or places responsibility on the victim rather than the perpetrator.
7) You also said, “Those kids were going to find somebody. They’re predators. They’re going to be dealt with through the judicial system”. Yes they’re predators. Maybe they will be dealt with in the judicial system. But if they get juries who think like you do, they will not get sufficient punishment because their responsibility is being deflected toward an unacceptable direction.
8 ) Justice is difficult enough for victims of rape; only 6% of rapists ever spend a day in jail (RAINN) and arrest and conviction rates are so low that victims fear reporting at all—inlcuding knowing they will face blaming attitudes like yours. Your words are perpetuating this, and in doing so perpetuate a culture which says it is okay to place unnecessary responsibility on the victim. And this inhibits justice for all victims.
9) “If the girl’s school had a stricter code of dress and student conduct, the girl might have had some extra protection, Passidomo said.” Clothes do not protect anyone from rape. You are aware that 80 year old women wearing pantsuits are raped? How much clothing exactly should a woman wear to afford some extra protection against rape? As for student conduct, this little girl could have walked away with a teacher, a trusted family friend, or another 11 year old, and any one of those persons could have STILL chosen to commit the crime of rape against her.
10) Protection from schools or parents should be focused on educational and awareness campaigns on the dynamics of rape, power, and control. NOT stricter guidelines regarding attire as a means of protection against sexual assault; this is ignoring the issue and NOT addressing the real problem.
I truly hope that you receive enough emails, letters, phone calls, and complaints to change your mindset on the dynamics of this crime and what you can do to help stop it rather than perpetuate dangerous and damaging perceptions. This, to me, is unacceptable as one of our elected officials. I have 2 little girls, and I know you have 3. I pray that you will be enlightened of the way in which your words help create a harmful culture for them to live in. If you truly want to create prevention and protection against sexual violence, I challenge you to introduce legislation that increases and expands education and awareness in schools regarding this.
Sexual Violence Task Force of Tampa Bay