Armies of Enablers: Survivor Stories of Complicity and Betrayal in Sexual Assaults
By Amos Guiora Reviewed by Anna Rossi
Professor Amos Guiora’s latest book, Armies of Enablers: Survivor Stories of Complicity and Betrayal in Sexual Assaults, is a passionate argument for the development of legislation criminalizing those who turn a blind eye to sexual assault within the institutions for which they work. Guiora is a law professor at the University of Utah and has previously published works focused on those who witness wrongs occurring and do nothing, notably his book on bystander accountability, The Crime of Complicity: The Bystander in the Holocaust. Prof. Guiora takes the accountability argument one step further in Armies of Enablers, and asserts that the enabler – the person who is made aware of a sexual assault but focuses on protecting the institution in which it occurs rather than the survivor of the assault – should be punished criminally in order to deter future enabling behavior within institutions.
The thesis of Armies of Enablers is that those who are made aware of abuse occurring within their institutions and choose to do nothing, thereby protecting the institution and abandoning the survivor, should be subject to criminal penalties up to and including incarceration. The crux of Prof. Guiora’s argument is that the enabler’s abandonment causes further harm to individuals who have already been victimized by the perpetrator of the physical or sexual abuse, and that only through criminalization of enabling behavior can we deter future offenders. Criminalization, Prof. Guiora argues, will achieve two goals: it will protect known victims from further harm and prevent the victimization of others. The idea raises interesting questions for the reader: Can we criminalize the behavior of someone who fails to act when they know someone is being harmed? And if so, should we? Prof. Guiora acknowledges the complexity of this issue, and recognizes that he is very much prioritizing the needs of survivors in making his argument. This book is not an unbiased examination of the pros and cons of criminalizing enabling behavior; it is a persuasive piece written with the intent to convince its reader that enablers deserve to be punished criminally. As such, the book contains valuable information in support of...