Titanium covered by Madelyn Bailey
My last two entries were inspired by the tragic gang rape that took the life of a 23 year old woman in India. This one is as well. In my last entry I challenged men to uses their voices to implement change. I didn’t get a great response from men in western countries but with the help of my friend Solaiman Shukhon (https://www.facebook.com/Shukhonz) a Bangladeshi comedian, hundreds of men in Bangladesh responded and expressed their thoughts about sexual violence. (Solaiman, deservingly, also got a lot of Kudos from people all over the world, mostly from women). If you haven’t read my last entry please do (http://ingridkeizerwilson.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-challenge-to-men.html) you will want to thank Solaiman too.
When I read of the death of the rape victim from New Delhi an anguish erupted inside me that had lain quietly dormant for a long time. It was not that I didn’t know that this sort of violence exists. It exists in my country as well and it is perpetuated by fear and shame. Perhaps it was the virtual “straw that broke the camel’s back” it was that “one more” report of a woman victimized by ignorance, cowardice and control that erupted in the form of despair. The international media was ignited by this one poor girls death and as each day passes the international news gives the subject less and less attention. I don’t want this fire to burn out. However, as I delve into news from the region of India and Bangladesh, the fire is still burning and the reports of more and more rapes of this sort keep coming.
The Women Under Siege Project (http://www.womenundersiegeproject.org/) has declared 2013 the End of the Culture of Rape. I must admit that initially I was cynical. I felt that it was a beautiful idea that couldn’t possibly begin to infiltrate the tremendous misery that haunts so many women worldwide. In the last 38 hours my faith has been restored. Yesterday morning I posted my challenge to men and though I didn’t get the response that I’d thought I’d wanted, I might have gotten something better. Yesterday my blog was read by 4 times as many people and a large concentration of those people were in India and Bangladesh. Judging by the comments on Solaiman’s Facebook Wall, a large number of those readers were men who believe in implementing change. Solaiman started a conversation among Bangladeshi men that they were not having before.
Let’s stop perpetuating the myth of rape. Rape victims do not invite rape with the way that they look or the clothes that they wear. Rape happens to mostly females of all ages, shapes and sizes. Men are victims of rape too. It happens to infants as well as 97 year olds. Victims of rape come from all socio-economic backgrounds and various levels of education. Rape does not occur because a woman walked alone in a dark or isolated place. 80% of rapes are committed by someone known by the victim. Victims do not invite rape by drinking too much or taking drugs. Rapists and their defenders make excuses to justify their actions. Rape is not sex. Rape is an act of violence. Rape is not a crime of passion. Rape is an act of violence. Gang Rape is not rare. In more than 40% of rape cases multiple perpetrators are involved. Rape is never, ever the victims fault. Rape is not justified because a girl agreed to go somewhere with a guy. An expensive date does not justify sex. Rape is Rape. NO means, “NO!”. These myths are lies and as long as they are perpetuated they wrongly influence the lawmakers and justice systems that are meant to protect the victims. A judicial system that fails to protect victims is a failed system.
Rapist can be doctors, engineers, teachers, priests or truck drivers, a rapist can be a trusted family friend or a family member. A rapist can be a stranger or someone known by the victim for years. Some rapists rape to humiliate or degrade their victims. Some rape to express control or to establish masculinity. Some rape because they get some sick pleasure from seeing fear and suffering. The bottom line is that rapists are cowards who seemingly cannot form normal, respectful relationships. They use their power, their positions and or their physical strength to control people who are vulnerable to them. The perpetrators of rape might want you to believe that they are respected or powerful. The truth is that they are weak and despicable.
When I speak to my learners about atrocities that happen to women on the other side of the earth I often make the analogy of having a neighbor who I know is a victim of domestic abuse. Do I smile and pretend that I don’t see the bruises or do I put her in my car and deliver her to safety? I personally would try to deliver her to safety. The women on the other side of the earth are my world neighbors. They are my sisters, my daughters, my nieces and my mother and I am theirs.
Please start a conversation about the end of the culture of rape. Research the topic, re-post this blog but please, don’t let the fire burn out.
If you would like to discuss human rights issues or the empowerment of women in your country, I will happily exchange email or call you at your convenience. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always if you are a victim of sexual abuse and need help or would like to learn more about preventing sexual abuse please visit http://www.rainn.org/get-help/sexual-assault-and-rape-international-resources.