Counterproductive to the real problem

February is sexual assault awareness month. I have mixed feelings about the month. It is devastating that we even need to have a month dedicated to such a horrible topic, but it's great that we are raising awareness. Campaigns like #MeToo are bringing to light the untold stories of women’s experiences. This has revealed the devastating number of women that it effects and opened the eyes of many to the magnitude of the problem. However, there is one problem that needs to be addressed, and it is one that understandably makes most people uncomfortable: false claims of rape.

I can already anticipate the reaction this will get: that women do not simply “cry rape,” or make false rape accusations. And for a majority of cases that would be correct, but this problem still exists. Lieutenant Colonel Mason Stalker of the Canadian Forces was accused of sexual assault and sexual exploitation in 2015. He was relieved of his high command in Edmonton where the incident took place. This was the right move, as you cannot have an accused rapist in command. In Lt. Colonel Stalkers case, it was found that the timelines were wrong and it was simply impossible for the events to have taken place. A teenager named Nikki Yovino admitted to falsely accusing two football players of rape and is currently going to trial and could face up to six years in prison. On the other hand, those falsely accused may spend time in prison, as in the case of Connor Fitzgerald. He spent 3 months in prison before it came out that his accuser lied. There are even people who have simply been accused of sexual assault who have spent time in prison before it is proven, which seems to go against the entire “innocent until proven guilty” ideology of our legal system.

While these cases are very rare, to say the least, they do occur, and they ruin the lives of the accused. It’s a very touchy subject because if the accused did, in fact, commit the crime, then I think they should face an appropriate prison sentence. None of this Brock Turner only doing three months sh*t, or getting parole as in the case of David Becker. Let them rot for all I care. My goal here is not to antagonize or trivialize the struggles surrounding sexual assault, but rather the opposite. False accusations are what trivialize the real victims' experiences that deserve attention and investigation. They need to be stopped, and crying rape is counterproductive.