Jon Krakauer is a powerful ally in the battle against sexual violence
by Elizabeth Renzetti, The Globe and Mail, Apr. 24 2015
By his own admission, Jon Krakauer did not know much about sexual violence, and did not take it very seriously as an issue, before he decided to write a book about it.
This may cause your eyes to roll, if you’ve spent any time reading about the prevalence of rape or listening to women whose lives it has shattered. It certainly made mine roll.
Rolling Stone magazine failed to follow basic journalistic safeguards in publishing a story about an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house, according to an outside review of the matter released on Sunday. Zach Goelman reports.
But I’m willing to forgive his late conversion to the cause, because he is one powerful ally, and his new book about rape on a U.S. college campus, Missoula, is heavy artillery armed with facts, evidence and lacerating indignation.
The conversation has recently been hijacked by the bogus campus rape story in Rolling Stone magazine, but Mr. Krakauer shows, through interviews, transcripts and studies, that the problem is not that men are being falsely accused of rape, but that they are getting away with it. Here is one key takeaway from his book, which is as relevant to Canada as it is to the bucolic campus in Missoula, Mont.: “The overwhelming majority of rapists get away scot-free.”
Over the phone from New York, Mr. Krakauer elaborates: “The really good research shows that between 2 per cent and 10 per cent of charges are false. And that’s terrible. But 97 per cent of the time a woman is raped, the rapist escapes accountability and that is very disturbing. So many more women are victims of rape than men are falsely accused. It’s not even close.”
If you’d told him this five years ago, he might have scoffed. But that was before a close family friend, a woman he’d known since she was a baby, told him she’d been sexually assaulted and how it traumatized her. Mr. Krakauer, the bestselling author of extreme-adventure tales Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, was casting about for a topic for his next book and decided to investigate the subject of sexual assault – particularly on campus.
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