As part of her ongoing campaign for gender equality, Patricia Arquette is shining a spotlight on “widespread” rape in American society that, in her opinion, exposes a broken system.
“Why are states spending money to prosecute kids spray-painting a wall or [holding] a gram of weed, over catching a rapist?” the Oscar-winning actress told TheWrap. “There’s a real deep bias and it goes on throughout our whole judicial system.”
When it comes to “The Birth of a Nation” director Nate Parker, who was acquitted of rape charges 17 years ago when he was a student at Penn State but who has fallen under a new wave of scrutiny, Arquette gave a long sigh before speaking about the case.
“It’s very hard because the film tells a very important story and it needs to be told,” she said, obviously conflicted about the controversy that has resurfaced around the actor-filmmaker, whose Sundance hit tells the true story of Nat Turner, the leader of a slave revolt in 1830s Virginia.
“It’s a very sad story and a horrible story,” she said. “I really just wish something good could come of this. How do we talk to young people going to college, how do we really deal with this in a healing way? I don’t mean the specific situation [with Parker]. This situation [of rape] plays out all the time. How are we going to stop it?”
Arquette executive produced and appears in Kamala Lopez’s women’s rights documentary “Equal Means Equal,” which screens in select cities on Friday in honor of Women’s Equality Day. A section of the film is devoted to rape culture, weak laws that inhibit prosecution of the crime, lax enforcement on sexual assault and college campus rape.
“We’re looking at a country where every single state has thousands of untested rape kits with the genetic material of the rapists,” she said. “Why is that?”
Arquette argued that an Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution would help solve many of the issues that American women face.
“It’s not just that women have equal pay issues. There are many areas besides equal pay. If we pass the Equal Rights Amendment we can start challenging these norms, like the norm that only 3 percent of rapists ever spend a day in jail.”
“Every time we get upset about a rapist not getting jail time — that’s the norm. We have to make some very radical changes,” she pressed. “If we had constitutional equal rights ratified with the ERA, then you could take a class-action suit to the high courts and examine why women’s sexual assault and rape is so diminished in our courts across the land.”