The articles we see surfacing the web about women’s issues are increasing day by day. Writers, authors and bloggers are tackling a wide range of subjects; one of which is rape.
Rape is the extreme case of sexual harassment. It is a violation of basic human rights. There have been numerous attempts by different societies to try and point out the reasons behind this act of violence, in vain. It seems that we try to justify and excuse this behavior, instead of accepting that it exists and dealing with it head on.
Why does it exist? What are the reasons for this?
The reason seems very simple to me: it is the rapist. No matter how we look at it, no matter how we try to shift it, it always comes back to the rapist. Let’s not excuse them and marginalize their act by putting the blame on their victims. We’ve heard them all before; “she had it coming”, “did you see what she was wearing?”, “she definitely wanted him but was too shy”, “I had to teach her how to be a woman”, “she wanted a man to dominate her but she didn’t know how to ask for it”. Here’s a newsflash: when a woman wants something, she knows how to ask for it. Consent in sexual acts needs to be very clear and obvious. No means no. An invitation to coffee is simply that: an invitation to coffee. A woman accepting to visit a friend in his house does not mean she wants to sleep with him. In relationships, telling her partner that she is not in the mood does not mean she will get in the mood once he tries to smooth things with her. Whether single, engaged, or married, no means NO.
Like the rest of us, women have personalities too. Some speak out and say no while others try to do so subtly. There are actions and words that women can use to try and get the other person to understand that they are not okay with what is happening. Most importantly there’s the body language. Every person, man or woman, should be open to understanding the other’s body language. Different people did researches about this, and the results were not too surprising: more than half of our communication is done non-verbally, and, context is essential in making a conclusion for our findings.
When a woman does not say no, that does not count as consent. If she doesn’t say no, it doesn’t mean she said yes.
So, how do we deal with rape? What can we do to eradicate this problem from its roots?
In my opinion, the answer lies in education. It seems too simple, but it’s hard work. We need to go back to our schools and universities; maybe we need to add an obligatory course or two to address this subject. We need to remind our youngsters about bodily rights, we also need to help them see that women have bodily rights as well, regardless of sexuality, marital status, race, etc. We need to remind them that rape is not dependent on the victim but on the aggressor, in the sense that it does not matter what the woman is wearing or that she is drinking alone in a pub or walking home at 3am, the circumstances that lead to the violation of her body are irrelevant: rape is rape, and rape is never a woman’s fault. We also need to remember that men get raped too, even if in smaller numbers.
Overall, the number of rapes that are actually reported is extremely low compared to the actual number of attacks. The reason? The procedure is exhausting, many proclaim. Isn’t it true though? Our officers haven’t had the training to deal with sensitive issues such as rape. They don’t know how to talk to these victims; if anything, they would be attacking them more and putting the blame on them as well. And if a case reached the court, how hard would the rapist’s defense attorney attack and try to discredit her? She would relive the experience every time she tells her story, and, in the spotlight she’d tell it to her attorney, the court and maybe the media. And in the case of males getting raped, can you imagine how our officers would deal with it? He would get laughed at, he’d heard a few degrading adjectives, and most probably the case wouldn’t get anywhere.
There are a lot of things that we can do in order to reach the ultimate goal of women having their human rights, bodily rights included. Let’s start by teaching our sons not to rape instead of teaching our daughters what to do to avoid getting raped.