Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rape Is Never the Fault Of the Victim

TRIGGER WARNING

There are those that steadfastly refuse to accept the fact that rape is not about sex, it is about power. Forcing oneself upon another is the worst form of violation. 

Today I read about the terrible story of a young girl who was gang raped because she dared to "disrespect" a gang leaders girlfriend.  The poor child was 14 years old and had to withstand the assault of 9 boys.

The group's 16-year-old leader started an argument with her over a comment she had apparently made to his girlfriend.

One of the youths took her mobile phone and the leader told her she could only get it back if she performed a sex act on him. She was then dragged to a block of flats.

She was forced to take off her clothes and raped.

She fought back but the gang threatened to kill her. The girl was then taken to another block of flats and raped again.

While the judge in the case has said that jail will occur, what I kept mentally returning to was the idea that rape should be used as "punishment" against a woman.

How many times have you heard someone immediately jump to question what a woman was wearing, why she chose to be in a certain location, or even her sexual history?  What we do not stop to question is why we assume that someone should have the right to exert this kind of power over a person as a form of punishment.

Rape is a form of "punishment" routinely visited upon women.

Canada

A recent survey on date rape showed that 60% of Canadian college-aged males indicated that they would commit sexual assault if they were certain they would not get caught. (Helen Lenskyj, "An Analysis of Violence Against Women: A Manual for Educators and Administrators," Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1992)


According to Statistics Canada, only 6% of all sexual assaults are reported to the police. (Statistics Canada, "The Violence Against Women Survey," The Daily, November 18, 1993)


A 1993 survey found that one-half of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of sexual or physical violence. Almost 60% of these women were the targets of more than one of these incidents. (Statistics Canada, "The Violence Against Women Survey," The Daily, November 18, 1993)


Statistics show one in four Canadian women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. Half of these assaults will be against women under the age of 16. (J. Brickman and J. Briere, "Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault in an Urban Canadian Population," The International Journal of Women's Studies, Vol. 7, no. 3, 1984)


United States

The United States has the world's highest rape rate of the countries that publish such statistics -- 4 times higher than Germany, 13 times higher than England, and 20 times higher than Japan.

Somewhere in America, a woman is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In 1996, only 31% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials - less than one in every three. [National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 1997.]

In a survey of college women, 38% reported sexual victimizations that met the legal definition of a rape or attempted rape, yet only 1 out of every 25 reported their assault to the police.


In a study of college students, 35% of men indicated some likelihood that they would commit a violent rape of a woman who had fended off an advance if they were assured of getting away with it.


1 in 12 male students surveyed had committed acts that met the legal definition of rape. Furthermore, 84% of the men who had committed such acts said what they had done was definitely not rape.

Even as I was amassing these statistics, somewhere a woman was being raped, perhaps even by a man she thought that she could trust. There are those that would tell us that there is no need for feminism, or that we have reached a post gender world.  There are even women that equate feminism as a dirty label.

When I look at statistics like those listed above or read the stories like those of the anonymous girl that was gang raped, I know that now more than ever we need feminism.  We have not moved far from a time when men enshrined us in homes, stole our property, denied us the vote and burned us at the stake.

The burning times have never gone away, we have just ceased to have horror at the crimes committed against women.  There is not a woman that does not walk in the dark and think about the possibility of assault, but secretly we never think that it will be us - until one day it is. 

We never think that a man that we have come to care about, or even love could use his penis as a weapon against us.  We never think that a son that we have lovingly rocked to sleep could be the ultimate betrayer by engaging in sexual violence.

Turn a deaf ear to the what about the mehnz routine because real women are suffering and real women are dying.  It is time for us to unequivocally state it is not okay to violate us.  It is not okay to abuse us. Do not seek to only take back the night, seek to take back every space and make it a safe space for women.  Not only do we owe this to ourselves but we owe it to our daughters.

 


17 comments:

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

Great post! We owe this to generations prior who felt they had no voice in sexual assault and violence. We owe this to future generations so they can be completely free of worrying and fearing sexual assault and violence.

Lindsay said...

I've heard the statistics before, but they mean little to the average person unless it's up next to that horrible story about the young girl.

And the crimes are not reported and not prosecuted and no one thinks of them as rape.

You are so right - it is never, ever ok to violate us.

satisfiction said...

This just made me sad, really, truly sad. Please, someone tell me how I can help stop this. I'm especially disgusted at the fact that 60% of Canadian college-aged males would rape if they could get away with it. Not cool. Never ok. I live in Toronto so this disturbs me on the threat level, as well... I just... seriously wish I could stop rape. Any suggested actions?

Glennisha Morgan said...

This is truly sad! I've been raped before and it was horrible but, I can't imagine 9 different guys. They all need their balls cut off. YES, it is NEVER the victims fault. I remember when I faulted myself for my rape.

ZoBabe said...

Sick, just sick. And so sad. Unfortunately, the very act of "victim blaming" has always made me see the act of rape as some twisted and misguided form of "punishment."

Punishment for dressing the wrong way, for daring to be out in public, for not conforming to whatever arbitrary standard set by someone else, for being a woman...

It is never the victim's fault. When people engage in victim blaming, they are condoning rape as form of punishment. They are condoning unilateral sentencing, without trial or jury, for the victims.

Arum said...

Pah. You'll notice from the report that the judge has asked for 'social reports'. She wants to find out what made these poor, poor men rape this child. What's the betting they get off with time served?

In Britain, the police estimate that there are 60,000 rapes per year. Of these, 12,000 are reported to the police. Of these, less than 5% end in conviction - that's 600 cases. So baisically, rape is legal in the UK.

Over 60% of rape cases reported to the police involve more than one offender. Unfortunately, juries prefer to believe that the nice young men in the Burton's suits could not possibly have colluded to assault a woman, and that in fact she's just a dirty slut. Contrary to what vicims assume, you are less likely to get a conviction in these cases than you are if there's a single offender.

What appears to have secured a conviction in this case is that the victim 'fought back', ie she sustained injuries that the defence couldn't put down to her being 'sexually aggressive'.

What really, really pisses me off is that the men complaining about the 'all men are potential rapists' meme are EXACTLY the same men who tell women they should be engaging in 'rape prevention' acivities. Like we can prevent rape. They give the laptop in car defence - if you leave your laptop visible in your car then you are 'asking' to have it nicked. The same way, women who act in certain ways are 'asking' to be raped. What they don't seem to appreciate is that you lock your laptop away because ANYONE passing could be a thief. So we shouldn't talk to men - they could be rapists. We shouldn't accept a drink from a man - he could be plotting to rape us. Getting drunk in a public place? Ooooh, all those men around you think it's okay to rape you. Wearing clothes you think you look great in? Well sweetheart, men will think you want to be raped.

The thing is, most women don't want to think like this. We don't want to believe that all men are potential rapists. We want to believe in the basic humanity of men. That bloke at the bar? He wants to buy you a drink because he likes you, and wants to talk to you - not because he's a rapist. The mate you're getting drunk with? You're having a laugh, he's not working out how to rape you. The men who see you in your favourite outfit, they're not getting together to plot how to drag you into an alleyway, they just admire your figure.

It's just depressing how often our faith in men is misplaced.

SunlessNick said...

What really, really pisses me off is that the men complaining about the 'all men are potential rapists' meme are EXACTLY the same men who tell women they should be engaging in 'rape prevention' acivities.

Men like this are the ones who really push the all men are potential rapists meme. Because it serves us. It excuses us because it teaches that we can't help it. But we can - every single fucking one of us can. And rapists prove it every time they pick a victim so as not to get caught. And rape apologists prove it every time they try to repaint victims as sluts/teases/bitches/whores - because if we really couldn't help it, they wouldn't need to blame the victim - they blame the victim precisely because they deep down know that it's a lie that we can't help it.

Whereas:
The thing is, most women don't want to think like this. We don't want to believe that all men are potential rapists. We want to believe in the basic humanity of men.

By placing their focus on the choice of the rapist to commit a crime, feminists imply that the choice not to is equally inherent. Feminism puts more faith in men's consciences than any rape apologist.

Renee said...

@Sunless Nick

Men like this are the ones who really push the all men are potential rapists meme. Because it serves us. It excuses us because it teaches that we can't help it. But we can - every single fucking one of us can. And rapists prove it every time they pick a victim so as not to get caught. And rape apologists prove it every time they try to repaint victims as sluts/teases/bitches/whores - because if we really couldn't help it, they wouldn't need to blame the victim - they blame the victim precisely because they deep down know that it's a lie that we can't help it.

You have put into word more eloquently than I ever could why the blame the victim meme is wrong.

Rj said...

Men Can Stop Rape. Period. All of these women's programs against violence are great; however they are reactive. Self-defense is great, being self-aware and conscious of your environment is great. Men Can Stop Rape. Where are all the MRAs now, on this topic? Men should be getting educated and doing the educating. Rape needs to be defined to the public because men and some WOMEN don't even know what it is.

Visit the website I linked to. I think their work is excellent.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this post. It means the next time I come up against someone who denies the widespread nature of rape, I can point them in the direction of these statistics.

It's terribly depressing reading, but hopefully another step further in getting people to take this seriously, stop blaming victims & start to look at how we can stop perpetrators from doing this, getting away with it and being excused.

Anonymous said...

Just curious...why are most of your statistics on reported rapes and sexual assaults in Canada more than 16 years old? In one case, the report is more than 24 years old. That's like taking a statistical report from the 1940s and claiming that contemporary Germans are gassing and burning Jews.

Rj said...

Anonymous 11,

Rape stats are on backlog...just like rape kits.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
This post has been removed by a blog administrator."

...because false rape reports -- although true -- undermine the justification for hating men. Remember, folks...don't base your opinions on the statistics. Rather, cherry-pick the statistics to suit your prejudices.

Have a nice day, Renee. ;-)

Anonymous said...

The US false report rate for rapes is 2% -- about the same as the false report rates for other violent crimes. (That 8% number you may have heard floating around is the percentage of "unfounded" cases, which usually just means there isn't enough physical evidence to prosecute.) Funny how rare it is for people to jump to the conclusion that all/most/many murders are faked, just because a small portion are, but they're totally willing to do it for rape. Remember folks...don't base your opinions on the statistics. Rather, cherry-pick the statistics to suit your prejudices.

m Andrea said...

You seem to have some professional-quality trolls. They've been keeping up with their ongoing misogyny training, I see.

Men like this are the ones who really push the all men are potential rapists meme. It excuses us because it teaches that we can't help it.

No. MRA's use it as a strawman pawn, so women will feel protective towards the Nigels. First the dude says "oh you think all men are rapists". Then the feminist falls into the trap and says "oh of course not. You're a perfect example of a nice guy, Nigel".

We lose the opportunity to look at the system as a whole with the largest category under the microscope. We can't look at the entire class of men, because "poor Nigels aren't like that". So we can only look at the assholes.

We never examine Nigel's role. Most especially, we never validate whether or not Nigel is genuine or a poseur. Without Nigel standing there being a NEUTRAL guy, women would have to ask some harder questions.

if we really couldn't help it, they wouldn't need to blame the victim - they blame the victim precisely because they deep down know that it's a lie that we can't help it.

This makes no fucking sense. If men believe they really can't help it, then of course they are going to believe it is the victim's fault. And to admit that "deep down they know it's a lie" is to acknowledge DELIBERATE manipulation and oppression of women -- which makes it that much worse.

Just curious...why are most of your statistics on reported rapes and sexual assaults in Canada more than 16 years old?

Liar. Most are only a few years old. Combine that the fact that these are replicas of earlier studies, and they still conclude the similar findings, it all adds up to a steaming pile of MENSUCK.

m Andrea said...

This was an excellent post, btw. Thank you very much for all your hard work in digging up those studies.