By Katharine Nelson, Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Advisor: Armaghan Ziaee
Abstract: Sexual violence, including sexual assault, harassment, and rape, is an issue that has been affecting women at a disproportional rate around the world for centuries. Although in the United States one in three women experience sexual violence at some point in their lives, rape remains the most underreported crime in the country (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2018). This research examines that at alarming rates, women's reports of sexual violence or sex crimes are not being investigated by law enforcement, specifically for women of marginalized groups. Through a qualitative method, this paper looks at four cases from CNN's archive report of sex crimes in the United States from 2010 to present day. I ask why law enforcement is not consistently investigating sex crime reports made by women (and women of marginalized group) in the United States? And how women's intersectional identities affect their experiences with reporting sex crimes to the police? The theoretical framework of this paper is based on an intersectional lens, feminist standpoint theory, and focal concerns/criminology theory. I argue the lack of trauma informed care, lack of racial/gender/sexuality/class understandings, lack of proper training and education, lack of prioritizing of sex crimes, and lack of resources are main factors that affect investigation and successful closure of sex crime cases. This interdisciplinary paper contributes to the understanding of gender and racial bias that thrives in the criminal justice system.