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Rape Shield Laws

            Starting in the 1970's, most states in the U. began passing what are known as "rape shield laws." These laws state that a rape victim's reputation of sexual conduct shall not be admissible in court. The laws also say that it is unlawful to disclose the name of any individual identified as an alleged rape victim. The purpose of these laws is to protect rape victims from public scrutiny, however, there are unintended consequences of rape shiled laws. These laws have often kept juries from hearing evidence that is highly relevant to the case. Without this evidence, it is impossible for a judge or jury to make an informed decision about the guilt or innocence of the accused. .
             Although the purpose of these laws is to protect women, they are actually giving automatic credibility to women who come forward with accusations of rape. These accusations can, in turn, ruin a man's life, whether or not they are found to be true. Excluding evidence of previous false rape charges by the accuser denies the accused a fair trial. Just as the backgrounds of victims and witnesses are taken into account in cases involving crimes such as homicide and assault, they should be considered in rape cases too. The credibility of the victim is an issue in every case except for those involving rape. .
             United States courts are supposed to be based on equal justice, not on the advantage of the accuser. Being raped is a tragic ordeal, but so is being falsely accused. People who are accused of rape often have their names plastered all over the media. Even if they are found to be not guilty, the damage has already been done. Americans are afforded the liberty of being innocent until proven guilty, so it is unfair that people who have been accused of rape are open to public scrutiny while their accusers remain anonymous.
             The only way to make rape shield laws fair is to make them apply to the accused as well as the accuser.

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