How rape culture shapes whether a survivor is believed

Rape is the nation’s most underreported violent crime, according to U.S. Justice Department statistics, as survivors fear that juries will believe the perpetrators, not them, and if they pursue justice, they may suffer further physical, economic, or social harm.

New research from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Dara Kay Cohen, Ford Foundation Associate Professor of Public Policy, Matthew Baum, Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications, and Susanne Schwarz, M.P.P. ’15, finds that rape culture bias is not only real, but it shapes how people determine what a believable rape case looks like, who is most likely a rape victim, and in which circumstances rape is less likely to take place.

Article summarizing the findings of the study


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