By Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor
It is 2017, and rape is still not being taken seriously, even by people in the highest positions of power within the United States.
On March 21, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer used a rape case at a Maryland high school to show why undocumented illegal immigrants are a major problem in the United States. A 14-year-old girl was allegedly raped on March 16 at Rockville High School by two students. One of these students, Henry E. Sanchez-Millan, is a native of Guatemala, and he was living in the U.S. illegally.
According to The New York Times, Spicer said, “I think part of the reason the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this. Immigration pays its toll on our people if it’s done – if it’s not done legally. And this is another example, and it’s why the president is so passionate about this.”
Spicer went on to call the entire scene “horrendous and horrible and disgusting.”
People who rape, sexually assault or otherwise take advantage of another person are, indeed, horrendous and horrible and disgusting. But that sentiment is about the only thing that Spicer got right in this scenario.
By making this kind of ridiculous statement about needing to stop illegal immigration to curtail rapes, the White House press secretary not only completely undermines this girl’s appalling, distressing experience, but he also labels all illegal immigrants as monstrous rapists who can’t help but attack the first person they see as soon as they cross the border.
Rape and sexual assault are obviously topics that should not be taken lightly. According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. One in every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Sexual assault is also not an issue that only affects women; one out of every 10 rape victims is male.
Clearly, rape and sexual assault are problems on a much larger scale than what Spicer makes them out to be. With this kind of statement about what happened at Rockville High School, Spicer essentially says that rapes are only coming from people who are not native to this country. That is an entirely false thing to say or assume. These attacks are not coming exclusively, or even in majority, from illegal immigrants; the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network states that three of four rapes or sexual assaults occur from someone who is known to the victim. Only seven percent of rapes or sexual assaults come from someone unknown to the victim.
These are not happening by surprise from unknown Hispanic illegal immigrants, as much as Spicer would like you to believe. In fact, 57 percent of rapes come from those who classify themselves as white.
Further, the American Immigration Council states that between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent. Illegal immigrants went from 3.5 million to 11.2 million. In the same time, FBI data showed that the violent crime rate, which includes rape, declined 48 percent.
This is not the first time that the problem of rape has been morphed into something other than what it is. Take a look at any rape or sexual assault on a college campus. The issue is rarely the rape or assault itself; instead, the focus is on how much the victim drank, what the victim wore or how the reputation of the attacker will be affected by his or her actions.
And now, once again, rather than condemning these men because they did a horrific thing to a poor girl, Spicer takes the chance to point them out only because they are illegal immigrants and not because they did something that lacks human decency and respect in every sense of the words.
This is unacceptable behavior from the White House press secretary and the Trump administration. These words will negatively affect rape or sexual assault victims and immigrants – illegal or otherwise – for a long time.