Minnesota Supreme Court victim blames: Sexual assault not just women’s issue


Photo Courtesy of Minnpost.com

The Minnesota Supreme Court has made clear they prioritize alcohol consumption over accountability.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled alcohol consumption trumps accountability in a Minnesota sexual assault lawsuit on Wednesday, March 24. Once again, sexual assault is posed as only a women’s issue, instead of a cultural issue. 

The ruling stems from a lawsuit in a lower court about Francois Momulu Khalil, who was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual misconduct because the woman he attacked was intoxicated. According to CBS News, the jury considered her “mentally incapacitated,” which rendered the initial third-degree verdict. 

On Wednesday, the decision was reversed, and the case will have a new trial, according to Justice Paul Thissen. 

The Minnesota Supreme Court says a mentally incapacitated person is “under the influence of alcohol, a narcotic, anesthetic, or any other substance, administered to that person without the person’s agreement, [and] lacks the judgment to give a reasoned consent to sexual contact or sexual penetration.”

Because the woman was voluntarily intoxicated when she met Khalil outside of a bar, she does not qualify as mentally incapacitated, which is a requirement of third-degree sexual assault. Despite raping an unconscious woman, he no longer qualifies for this conviction. 

Nearly 20% of women have experienced completed or attempted rape during her lifetime. To put that into perspective, 20% of Oakland University’s population is almost 4,000 students — roughly the amount of all OU graduate students. 

Violence against women is a part of the U.S.’s culture, and the nation will not change unless women stop being blamed. 

Women are told how to dress, where to go and when to go somewhere to avoid sexual assault — personally, I’m tired of this secondhand responsibility. Now, in Wednesday’s case, a woman is being told what to consume too. 

Specifically, Thisson has no room to presume what any woman should or should’ve done. He will never understand a woman’s experience. Even so, he has presumed the right to question the validity of a woman’s choices. 

“I think most men don’t see these issues as their issues, even though the overwhelming majority of domestic and sexual violence [90%] is perpetrated by men,” Jackson Katz, Ph.D and activist, said to NPR. “And a lot of men will say, these are problems, but they’re not my problem.”

This is the awareness that can change culture — choosy criticism and denial from men only shows those men are part of the problem. 

“[Violence against women have] been seen as women’s issues that some good men help out with,” Katz said to NPR. “But I have a problem with that frame… In fact, I’m going to argue that these are men’s issues, first and foremost.”

To be an ally, men have to genuinely listen, like Katz, instead of assuming an experience they haven’t lived. This paradigm shift is what creates allies to the women’s rights movement and challenges dominant systems. 

I hope one day, what I wear or what I drink doesn’t determine my or anyone’s consent. Consent is not an absence of refusal, consent should only be enthusiastic.

The ruling in Minnesota should remind the U.S. of the cultural change that is needed. Women and girls need to be supported — we want basic human rights. 

I want to know what it feels like to walk alone at night without fear — many women do.