Monday, September 18, 2023
I. India Thusi has published a review of Maybell Romero's article, Ruined, 111 Geo. L.J. 237 (2022). Thusi's review is titled Un-Marking Rape Victims. Thusi writes:
[Romero's] vulnerability in this piece is laudable, but her positionality as someone who has experienced the trauma of rape makes her especially qualified to assess how a rape victim might experience judges marking them as ruined. And labeling someone as ruined is a marking. Ruined means “the physical destruction or disintegration of something or the state of disintegrating or being destroyed.” Ruined reflects a permanence. A complete destruction of the person. It is an irrevocable status, and when the highest authority within a courtroom – the judge – labels a victim ruined, it is a permanent marking of the person’s disintegration. Romero experienced the harm of this labeling as she sat in courtrooms listening to judges repeatedly mark rape victims ruined. She was able to identify the issues with this labelling because of her subjective position in society, and she is using the tools of the law, which include legal scholarship, to address this harm that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
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Romero’s piece invites judges to embrace a language that rejects a narrative that reduces rape victims to the permanent status of ruination. Given the legal history of rape, the direct harm that might flow from labeling someone permanently destroyed, and Maybell’s personal account of how she experienced the use of the term, I am persuaded that judges should avoid this term. I hope others in the legal academy are similarly moved by this remarkable article.
Romero's full article is available here.