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The Shameful Secrets Of A Shameful Crime

Another gang rape in India has captured international attention.

Last December, a New Delhi woman was raped and subsequently died after being attacked by a gang of thugs on a bus. This time it was a Swiss tourist and her husband who were attacked by a gang of six men who beat the husband and tied him to a tree before raping his wife.

In India a woman is raped or sexually abused every twenty minutes. It seems almost unimaginable that so many women could be so frequently attacked in a democratic, reasonably modern society and yet; it happens every day.

Women and women’s groups often point to incidents like this and link them to sexual assault here in our own countries but they are often dismissed as over-reactive. We live in North America, after all, not a developing nation. Most people believe that the level of sexual assault happening in India just doesn’t happen in countries like Canada or the United States.

Indeed, the US is presenting the Women of Courage award posthumously to the victim in the New Delhi rape. They might better have kept the award and looked within their own society.

In the United States, a woman or child is sexually abused or raped every two minutes. Think about that for a moment. Every two minutes a woman or child is attacked, 66% of the time by someone in their family or someone they know.

Two teenage football players in Steubenville, Ohio have just been found guilty of rape after they assaulted a teenage girl and posted pictures of the assault online. It appears that many witnessed the crime but did nothing to protect the girl; they merely stood by and watched.

According to recent statistics, 80% of the victims of rape and sexual assault in the United States are under the age of 30 while 44% are under the age of 18. Even more disturbing is that 97% of the attackers will never spend a day in jail.

Many Canadians would quickly believe that the alarming statistics of sexual assault in the United States are due to a societal culture south of our border that is significantly more violent than our own.

They believe that Canada doesn’t have the same level of violent assault against women and children because Canada is not a violent country and they’re right. It’s even worse in Canada.

In Canada, fully 51% of women have experienced some form of sexual assault and 1 in 4 Canadian women will be sexually assaulted within in her lifetime.

Every year, in Canada, more than 360,000 children are sexually assaulted.

In Canada, a woman or a child is sexually assaulted every minute of every day.

In Canada, between 1 and 2 women a week are murdered by a current or former spouse or boyfriend.

In Canada, aboriginal women are three times more likely to experience spousal abuse than non-aboriginal women.

In Canada, more than 900 children a day are sexually molested or sexually assaulted.

Sexual assault is two crimes. The first is the assault itself which can, and often is, fatal. It is a frightening crime that attacks not only the body but the soul and that is the second crime. The victim lives with the horror of the assault for years after and virtually no one who has been sexually assaulted remains unaltered by it.

Rape is a crime of violence – terrible violence. It is more than sex; it is an intrusive violation of the individual. It is physical, mental and emotional violence that leaves deep emotional scars long after the physical wounds of those who survive the attack are healed.

The recidivism rate for murder is reasonably low but very high for sexual assault and rape and yet, the punishment for sexual assault is often insufficient to protect women specifically or society as a whole.

We still consider the taking of a physical life to be of more consequence than the taking of a soul.

The fact is  that rape and sexual assault have no place in a civilized society. Women and children should not have to live in apprehension of a possible attack. They should not have to feel cut off and isolated from the protection of law enforcement that we carelessly assume is doing the job of keeping things under control.

Our judicial system isn’t and too many women and children do live in fear.

It isn’t the fault of law enforcement. Many rapes go unreported because of fear and shame. Too many convicted of sexual assault are given light sentences and subsequently released to offend again.

In India, a woman who is raped is considered a disgrace to her family and in some Middle Eastern countries a woman who has been raped is charged with a crime and punished for bringing shame upon her family. We may consider that barbaric but our basic attitudes towards the victims of rape aren’t much different.

Often, as was the case in the Steubenville trial, the victim is put on trial. Her sexual history, her behaviour become more important that the rape itself and in that way she is victimized a second time; first by her attacker(s) and then by the system.

Too often, the victim is forgotten.

“Incredibly difficult to watch as these two young men who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.” – Poppy Harlow, CNN speaking about the conviction of two teenagers in the Steubenville rape.

Not one word about the victim, no empathy for what had been done to her just sympathy for her attackers.

“I cannot imagine how emotional the sentencing must have been… a 16 year old, sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16 year olds. What is the lasting effect of two young [men] being guilty in juvenile court of rape essentially?” – Candy Crowley, CNN on the same conviction

253664_10151471088844350_1563233433_nAgain. Not one word about the victim; not a word about the lasting effect of the attack on her or the effect of the public humiliation of having video of the attack shared across social media. The victim is forgotten in the sadness expressed for the attackers.

We are societies that need more than a reality check – we are societies that need a serious values check.

The simple fact is that each of us has the right to the sanctity of our own bodies. Nobody, regardless of how silly, how stupid or even how provocative our behaviour might be, has the right to inflict violence on us for their own selfish and perverse purposes.

No means no – no matter when the no is spoken and I would suggest that anyone who is incapable of controlling themselves when the no is spoken simply needs to be removed from society.

There should be no room in a community of civilized people for those who think it is quite acceptable to get a young woman drunk, use her body for their own gratification and then publicly humiliate her by sharing video of it on Facebook.  There should be no room in our societies for those who brutalize women and children.

This is the 21st Century. All of us have or have had mothers. Most of us have sisters or daughters or nieces or granddaughters or just friends who are women. Any one of them could be the 1 in 4 women who are attacked. Any one of them could be one of those who are assaulted every minute of every day.

Rape and sexual assault are not abstract concepts. They are not simply news stories that we read about in faraway places. They are real crimes happening to real women and real children in every city, town and village in this country, in the United States and in supposedly civilized countries around the world.

It happens because we allow it to happen through our refusal to deal with the issue head on. It’s long past time that we stopped treating it like it doesn’t exist and got serious about confronting it.

It’s time politicians stopped playing games with each other and started to address real issues like violence and sexual assault against women and children in a meaningful way.

And. . .

It’s time the rest of us to stop deluding ourselves into believing that it isn’t an epidemic happening within our own societies. It’s time we stopped arguing over trivial ideological nonsense, grew up and united in pursuit of safer societies for our wives, our daughters and all of the other women and children we know.


© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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  • Bert_1

    Usually, I agree wholeheartedly with your articles. This one is an exception, unfortunately.

    First, you don’t say who wrote this article, so I will assume that Bear is the author.

    Second, please don’t misinterpret what I am about to say. I do NOT blame the rape victim for the rape.

    Starting with the situation with the football players in the US, I have to admit that I have only read one other article about it. But, nowhere in either article did it say how or why that young lady got so hammered drunk. Yet, in your article, you say that the football players “got” her drunk. Is that true? If yes, then it definitely shows intent and they should be dealt with accordingly. If they didn’t, does that change the picture?

    I have teenage kids at home and I hear the terminology they use to describe some people. For example, someone who becomes particularly promiscuous (to use a nice word) when they are dunk is called a “sex monkey”. The sad part is, many of them actually brag that they are sex monkeys. Now, I have no idea if the girl in the story is a sex monkey or not. If she is, did she purposely hook up with those football players for the purpose of having sex with them? If she did, then did a rape actually occur? Bear in mind that I am not saying that one did or didn’t; I am just introducing questions that need to be answered BEFORE anyone is sentenced for it.

    Let’s take it a step further, Bear. Let’s say (heaven forbid) that a woman or girl goes to the police and claims “Bear raped me”. What would you want to see happen? I am not in law enforcement so I have no idea how it is decided that a rape did or did not occur but I think that you would want that avenue to be fully explored, wouldn’t you? And if it is proven that the girl/woman in question did, in fact, have sexual relations with someone on the night in question, would you not want to explore every possible avenue to prove that you were NOT her sexual partner? Yes, that process would be “revictimizing” her but without it, your freedom is at stake. No judge is going to say “Well, Bear said that he didn’t do it and that is good enough for me. Case dismissed!”. That simply isn’t going to happen.

    Too often, we focus on one party in cases like this. Your opening example of the lady in India who was raped and died is an example. Yes, that happens and yes, the people who perpetrate these heinous crimes should be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. But, let’s make sure that, in the less dramatic and one-sided cases, we evaluate the situation from all sides. If a person is guilty of rape, s/he should be punished. But, I don’t want to see innocent people going to jail simply because the crime in question happens to be emotionally charged. Yes, it has to be stopped but let’s not destroy innocent lives in the process.

    • chaos111_99
      • Bert_1

        But, what do you mean that they don’t agree with me? I didn’t say whether I thought the boys involved were guilty or not. I simply said that we should be careful in cases like this that whatever verdict arrived at is the result of analyzing all of the facts. If they are guilty, punish them. If they aren’t, let them go regardless of how much that may hurt our sensibilities.

        • MaggiesBear

          They confessed. They posted video of the rape on Facebook. How much more evidence would you like?

          • Bert_1

            The video was of someone having sex. Rape is more than simply having sex with someone. Plus, as I have said a number of times, I have not expressed an opinion on their guilt or innocence.

            • Cheryl R

              The court found the boys guilty after, what I have to assume was, a thorough investigation, evidence and testimony. The fact that she was drinking and was drunk (and may or may not have been a “sex monkey” as you put it) is a further indication that those two boys should have had the good sense God gave them to stay away from her, if not for her sake, then for their own. She was accused of being a liar. Then stay away from her. Don’t have sex with her, for crying out loud. And THEN to post it on the internet?! They have no self-respect, never mind respect for other human beings. If you’re dumb (and these two boys were stupid) enough to do the crime then you do the time.

              To add insult to injury, the media (CNN being the worst offender) portrayed the two young men as the victims, lamenting about how their promising careers and lives disintegrated before their eyes. Really? It was disgusting. What about the girl’s life? What about the fallout that SHE is going to have to deal with?

              I completely agree with Bear on this one. It’s time we stopped allowing this kind of abominable treatment of females in our society to happen.

              • Bert_1

                I agree that the boys were spectacularly stupid on so many levels. But, the posting of the videos on the internet is just a symptom of what is happening to our society. With all of the sexting that is going on, having nude photos online is no big deal to these kids.

                I never watch CNN but that doesn’t surprise me at all.

                I agree with that aspect of Bear’s article. I just don’t agree with all of it. Not everyone accused of a crime is guilty and not everyone claiming to have been wronged is a victim.

                • MaggiesBear

                  Bert, this isn’t about determining guilt or innocence or a rush to judgement. These two have had their day in court and were convicted. They are indicative a of great problem that goes far beyond self-indulgent stupidity. We do not take this issue seriously enough. We mitigate it, make excuses, rationalizations and in the end, our wives, our daughters, our mothers, sisters , nieces and our children are at risk.

                  Just today, two teenage girls in Steubenville were arrested for issuing threats, including a death threat, online against the victim. How long do think society should continue rationalize what happens to these women? How long do you think we should continue to try and legitimize rape and sexual assault with that absurd “she was asking for it” attitude or as one person put it to me on Twitter today, “No does mean no but maybe could mean yes. Right?”

                  Women and children are not toys or lesser human beings. They deserve better than we’re providing when it comes to their safety and their security.

                  • Bert_1

                    Bear, I have repeatedly stated that I am not trying to assign blame to anyone. Not the boys involved, not the girl, not the witnesses, not the parents and not the coaching staff of the football team. I wasn’t there so I witnessed nothing and have no first hand knowledge of what happened so I am neither qualified nor authorized to judge anyone involved in this incident.. All I have done is question things. For example, you state:

                    “Often, as was the case in the Steubenville trial, the victim is put on trial. Her sexual history, her behaviour become more important that the rape itself and in that way she is victimized a second time; first by her attacker(s) and then by the system.”

                    Do you really want to stand by that? How many times has someone been accused of either rape or some other sexual crime and their assumed guilt led to public vilification – sometimes for years – only to find out that the person was innocent? There was a case like that in Edmonton a couple of years ago. A teacher was accused by two girls of having molested them. After TWO FREAKING YEARS of court time and investigations, the girls finally recanted and admitted that they lied. In the mean time, the man lost his job, his friends and his family. He will likely never teach again and will probably never hold down a meaningful job for the rest of his life. Yes, rape happens and it is reprehensible. But so is assuming that someone charged with a sex crime is guilty.

                    Another aspect of your article and subsequent comments that I find to not be true in all cases is your insistance that the person who is raped will be traumatized and suffer from the incident for the rest of her life. Maybe she will but I can tell you that many times, she doesn’t give a rat’s ass. A neighbor’s daughter – now in her 20’s – went through almost exactly the same thing that happened in Stubenville not once, not twice but many, many times when she was a teen ager. Time after time, she would go to a party, get absolutely smashed and be raped by one, two,six or even more guys that night. The next morning, she would just get dressed and go home to do the whole thing over again next weekend. And, no, she didn’t give a damn – and still doesn’t – about what happened. The kids today don’t have either the respect we had for one another at that age nor the same perception of sex that we had. The only difference between what happened in Stubenville and my neighbor’s daughter is the videos. And, I am willing to bet that if there were no videos, we whould never have heard of what happened in Stubenville.

                    Think for a moment about your comment concerning the girls in Stubenville who uttered threats against the victim of the rape there. Why would they do that? If they had the same concept of sex in general and rape in particular, as we do, why the hell would they threaten the girl? That doesn’t make sense in my world. So, obviously, these girls think that the rape victim did something wrong. Do they blame the entire rape on her? Possibly. Or is it something else? The problem, Bear, is that you are taking your paradigm, your world, and applying it to a group of people who do not share your values. It doesn’t work.

            • chaos111_99

              Rape is having sex with someone without their consent, she was too drunk apparently to give consent. Maybe she shouldn’t have been, but that does not excuse these thugs or the ones that stood by and let it happen.

              • MaggiesBear

                Rape is assault. It isn’t about sex; it’s about power. It’s bullying of both the body and the soul. It is the gift that keeps on giving years after the attack.

            • MaggiesBear

              It wasn’t a video of consentual sex, it was a video that showed a woman unable to give consent being manhandled and stripped by members of a football team.

        • chaos111_99

          I mean they do not agree that everything possible was not done to prove rape.

    • MaggiesBear

      I did write this article and I stand behind every word in it.

      I have two daughters and I can you without hesitation that under no circumstances is the attitude about rape victims in this country or any other acceptable to me. I don’t care if the woman involved previously slept with the entire football team, showed up drunk and naked; nobody and I mean nobody, has the right to use her for their purposes without her consent and that’s all there is to it. Her lifestyle, her intent when she started drinking have nothing to do with it. The moment a person says no – it’s no.

      The numbers don’t lie. What is happening to women and children in this country and countries around the world is a disgrace to any concept of civilized behaviour. The numbers don’t lie.

      The mere fact that you have teenagers who call others ‘sex monkeys’ is an indication of the lack of respect for the sanctity of another’s body and life that has become all too prevalent in our society.

      Rape a horrific crime that targets the vulnerable. It targets women and children. There is no excuse for it and it should be treated for exactly what it is and the people who commit rape treated for exactly what they are – animals.

      • Bert_1

        I agree. I guess I shouldn’t have said that I disagree with the original article – I simply don’t agree with the tone. We need to make sure justice is done in situations like this whether the boys are guilty or not. If they are guilty, then they should feel the full weight of the law on their shoulders. But, if they aren’t, they shouldn’t be lynched just because we find the circumstances surrounding the incident to be distasteful.
        I have no idea if the girl in questions said no or not. I don’t know if she went with those boys specifically to have sex with them or not. And, you say that they “got” her drunk but others say that she had been drinking heavily before she met up with those boys. No, that is not an excuse if they did rape her, but it is an indication that there is more to this story than is in the press.
        I also have a daughter who happens to be the same age as these kids. No, I never want to see anything like this happen to her and I do my best to ensure that she does not get into this kind of a situations.
        I am not questioning the repulsiveness of rape. I just want to be sure that what happened was actually rape before I vilify those involved.