Kesha’s Court Case – It Shouldn’t Be This Hard

“There has been no showing of irreparable harm. She’s being given opportunity to record.”

This is part of the statement given by the judge who ruled that Kesha would not be able to break her contract with her alleged rapist and abuser, Dr Luke.

The ‘no showing of irreparable harm’ refers to her musical career, not her mental health. Because as soon as Kesha’s allegations were dismissed due to lack of proof, that was dismissed too, and the ruling became purely about business.

The main foundation of the US justice system is ‘innocent until proven guilty’. But there is a deep flaw in that ideal: it goes hand in hand with ‘if you cannot prove your statement to be true, then you must be a liar.’ And when you call someone who has suffered unthinkable trauma a liar, it has disastrous consequences.

Record producer, Dr Luke
Record producer, Dr Luke

Kesha is not trying to put Dr Luke in jail – I can only assume that is because she knows she doesn’t have enough proof to make that happen. All Kesha is asking for is to be able to work without putting money into the pocket of her abuser.

But because she cannot prove the abuse, the courts have decided she is a liar. And why would they want to help a liar?

But in the case of rape, it is unbelievably hard to prove. In order to have any chance at all, you need to go straight to the hospital, without having washed yourself, so that you can provide DNA samples. But often these DNA samples can only really be used to prove that you’ve had sexual intercourse. They can’t prove that it was forced.

This fact alone means that more than half of women who say they have been raped also say that they took no legal action – because they knew they would not be believed.

Some facts:

– Rape is incredibly hard to prove. Even if you take immediate action and go to the hospital to get DNA samples taken (which many victims don’t do, due to the impact of the trauma) it’s hard to prove that those samples were a result of rape and not consensual sex.

– Studies show that around sixty percent of women who claim to have been raped also say that they did not take legal action.

– There is absolutely no evidence to show that women are any more likely to lie about rape than anyone else is about any other felony. Most women who withdraw their allegations state that they do so not because their allegations are false, but because they know they are going to lose.

– In cases where the abuser is in a position of power over the victim (like, say, having total control over their career) then the victim is even less likely to come forward.

This is the society we live in. This is the context that must be taken into consideration when dealing with rape cases.

And yet, still, bubbling underneath this whole case is the belief that women are likely to accuse people of rape in order to get what they want. People are frequently pointing out the fact that Kesha once swore under oath that Dr Luke didn’t rape her, as if that disproves her current allegation, which she also swears under oath. Despite the huge amount of evidence to support the fact that women are more likely to deny rape than to come forward about it, people are more willing to believe her first statement. They want to completely forget the context of the rape culture we are living in.

On the subject of Kesha’s case, TV host Wendy Williams stated: “If everybody complained because somebody allegedly sexually abused them and was ripping them off, then contracts would be broken all the time.”

As if Kesha winning her case would then start a trend of women accusing people of rape just to get out of a contract they aren’t happy with. As if most women are the type of people who would tell a lie that could ruin someone’s life just to get out of a business deal. As if most women are, in fact, selfish spoiled children who either cannot comprehend how their choices might effect others, or simply do not care.

This is not reality. This is an outrageous depiction of the female gender.

In a world in which the majority of people who actually experience rape are so afraid to report it, how can we possibly think it likely that a horde of fully grown, intelligent women are suddenly going to start making false allegations, based on the fact that Kesha managed to get out of her contract? It’s absolutely preposterous, and says a lot about what society thinks of women.

Lady Gaga is one of the many women in the music industry who are publicly showing their support for Kesha. Her feelings on rape culture: “I wanna be somewhere where when a child says ‘I was raped’ that every adult in the room says ‘Are you okay? What happened? We want to help you.”

Kesha’s case was a perfect opportunity for that to happen.

Given all the facts about rape – how few women come forward, and how hard it is to prove – we cannot continue to say that if a victim cannot provide proof then they must be a liar. We cannot continue to ruin victims lives by allowing it to be so easy to disregard them.

There has to be another way. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I’d like to think we could make a start with cases like these. In a case which is simply the request to terminate a business contract, a case where there is no jail time involved for Dr Luke, a case where he would still get to keep his job, and all the money he has made from Kesha up until now, a case where there would be no real punishment for him, just liberation for her… I’d like to think that that would be when the court would take the opportunity to say ‘Victims of rape, we know the world is against you, but we want to help you, we want you to be believed.’

But they didn’t take that opportunity. And to me, that is absolutely devastating.

Eleanor Buchanan
Eleanor is an actor, writer, and performance poet who recently graduated from Birmingham School of Acting. She is currently performing in a Theatre in Education tour in Germany with White Horse Theatre, and is beginning to learn how to be a grown up.