Councilwoman Destroys CNN Anchor for Rape-Victim Shaming

January 20th 2016

Last week, reports surfaced about four teenagers who gang raped a young woman in a Brooklyn playground in New York. The police are still investigating the incident but not without some questioning over whether the young woman's behavior was to be blamed for the assault. In response, New York City councilwoman Laurie Cumbo rushed to the woman's defense and called out society's tendency to victim-blame and undermine sexual assault victims.

Victim-blaming can happen in cases where the alleged victim is drunk or when a victim apparently "puts herself in a compromising situation." In fact, one in four people believe that drunk rape victims are "a little bit responsible" for their fate, according to the Daily Mail. And, one in 12 people believe that both flirtatious and drunk women should shoulder some of the blame for sexual assaults, according to a report by the Huffington Post.

In the case of the 18-year-old girl who was allegedly gang raped, police said that she and her father were drinking moments before she was assaulted.

In a live interview with CNN's Pamela Brown, Cumbo tackled the issue of victim blaming head on, saying that the way we deal and talk about sexual assault has to change to empower the victim. According to Cumbo, too often the spotlight is on the victims and their behavior and not the assault and the attackers.

Laurie Cumbo on CNNFacebook/Ben Pall - facebook.com

Related: This Brave Woman Shared Her Chilling Story Moments After She Got Raped

"There is a way that people respond to violence against women and it's not appropriate," Cumbo said. "We feel that it needs to be stronger, it needs to be more effective."

Just as most survivors of sexual assault have argued, Cumbo believes that it doesn't matter what the victim does or does not do, rape is never okay.

"There needs to be legislation, there needs to be strategy, there needs to be implementation as well as enforcement. Every woman in the city of New York should feel safe, whether they are coming home late at night, early in the morning, coming from a party or going to work extremely late."

Related: This Powerful Video Shows The Real Cost Of Sexual Assault

But as details have emerged about the young woman's condition before and after the assault and her reportedly rebellious behavior toward police officers, Brown attempted to make the conversation about that.

"Law enforcement sources have told CNN that this alleged victim in this case was drunk, combative, and bit a police officer and that she initially refused treatment. What can you tell us about that?"

To this, Cumbo fired back and shut Brown down.

"That’s typical of just what I spoke about: that individuals often talk about the woman, they rarely talk about the individuals who actually committed the rape. Those are the individuals that need to be focused on right now...

"We shouldn’t talk about whether she was drunk, we shouldn’t talk about whether she was properly dressed, we shouldn’t talk about the time of evening that it happened. That is too typical of how we discuss rape in the city, the nation, and really the world. We need to focus in this situation on those five individuals that committed this heinous crime and what were the bad decisions that they made all throughout the day."

You can see their full interaction below.

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