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.
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)
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.