Over the last week, I have watched with disgust the Senate Judiciary Committee’s treatment of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. And now that two more brave women have come forward with an additional allegation against Kavanaugh, it’s even more urgent to #BelieveSurvivors.
At this juncture, there is only one appropriate way to move forward: this Thursday’s hearings must be cancelled to allow for these allegations to be investigated thoroughly.
Senator Flake, we listened to your comments on the floor this morning with great interest. Unfortunately, your words came up short, yet again. It’s time to call off tomorrow’s hearing and to call for a proper investigation into these extremely serious allegations.
It is extremely concerning to us that the committee charged with considering and passing the Violence Against Women Act, which is again up for reauthorization, has not appropriately handled the allegations or Dr. Ford since this story broke. From questioning the women’s memory and suggesting that perhaps they were attacked by someone else, to comments that suggest that it happened so long ago, it shouldn’t ruin his life, it wasn’t that serious, and on and on. Tweets and comments from leaders on the Judiciary Committee have us wondering just how much progress has been made since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act 24 years ago, and why they feel that communities and systems should be held to higher standards of responses to sexual violence than they are.
For sexual assault survivors, their callousness feels gut-wrenching.
Fewer than three out of every 100 rapes are ever brought to justice in court. Our president made the horrific claim that there’s no way the assault was “as bad as she says” because she would have reported it to law enforcement otherwise. But let me be clear: disclosing one’s experience with sexual violence does not make it more or less real. That trauma informs the way one experiences the world, and viral news of sexual assault exacerbates it.
Senators, and Judiciary leadership in particular, have treated these survivors as though they are on trial, rather than Kavanaugh. But this is not a trial and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is not a defendant. The inclusion of a prosecutor confuses this hearing with something criminal in nature, which this hearing is not – in fact, the Senators have refused calls for an independent investigation. Why then bring in a prosecutor if they don’t want the issue to be handled by the FBI?
Senator Flake, it’s time for you to show that you are committed to addressing violence against women—and to properly vetting Judge Kavanaugh, as you would any Supreme Court nominee. You can stop tomorrow’s planned hearing and call for an investigation to be opened today. Survivors are counting on you to do the right thing.