Vote No on Judge Deni
Letter published in various Philadelphia newspapers:
We were appalled to learn that Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni dropped all rape and assault charges in the case of a woman gang-raped at gunpoint (Jill Porter, “Move afoot to unseat judge in rape ruling”, Oct 24). Because the woman was working as a prostitute, Judge Deni decided that she could not have been raped and changed the charge to “theft of services.” Deni later said that this case “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”
As groups organizing against rape and in support of victims, we could not disagree more. All women have the right to protection from violence. The idea that any woman is “asking for it” is a lie that we fought for decades to destroy. It is especially offensive to see it revived by a female judge, who reached her position as a result of the women’s movement and is now using her power to deny justice to the most vulnerable women.
The outcry following Deni’s decision shows that most people refuse the division between “good” and “bad” rape victims. No woman is safe when prostitute women aren’t safe. Serial rapists and murderers often target prostitute women who are less likely to go to authorities because they are criminalized, and then move on to other women. Here, the same man and his friends gang-raped another woman four days later. Decisions like Deni’s are a green light for further attacks.
Deni attacked the credibility of the victim by saying she met another client before reporting the rape. But women react in many ways after rape, including trying to carry on with our lives and not telling anyone for years. How we cope should not be used against us. In this case the victim was a Black single mother with a young child. In a city where one in four people lives in poverty and welfare has been almost completely dismantled, many women have been forced into prostitution to survive. This should not make them fair game for rapists.
We are glad that the District Attorney is pursuing the original rape charges. The public can make our voices heard in the November 6 election: vote “No” on the retention of Teresa Carr Deni as Municipal Judge.
On behalf of
Global Women’s Strike
Women Against Rape
US PROStitutes Collective
Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP)
Legal Action for Women
Every Mother is a Working Mother Network
Wages Due Lesbians
Payday Men’s Network
For information & verification, please call 215-776-1004.