Unshackling Progress

The only way to fully understand a problem and all it's angles is to listen

Reversing a Rape Culture: An American Tourist is Gang Raped in India

Currently there is a manhunt for three men who gang raped an American Tourist in Himachal Pradesh. Rape is a worldwide problem but India has been in the spotlight ever since the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23 year old on a bus last December.

Rape is inarguably one of the most horrific things that a human being can do to another. And yet it is criminally under reported and much of the time it goes unpunished. RAINN claims that only 3% of rapists actually go to jail in the United States.

And it just gets worse from there. Around the world government’s seem to be failing their female citizens when it comes to protecting them from sexual assault. In Morocco a rape charge can be forgiven if the perpetrator marries his victim. This particular law led to a 16-year-old girl, committing suicide after being forced to marry her rapist. In France a group of men who gang raped girls over the course of two years had a combined sentence totaling in only two years prison time. And ever since the Delhi Rape case dozens more stories have come out of India. Some involving the police being the perpetrators. Recently one involved a five year old girl, who just died April 30th. I realize that all of this is very depressing but unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of being able to ignore these atrocities.

A major part of the problem is how criminally under reported sexual assaults are.

Now in March India passed stricter laws for rapists including the death penalty. And while I think that harsher penalties is a good start we have to start looking at how our culture views these attacks, and women in general. Perhaps part of the reason that rape is so underreported is because we spend so much time blaming the victim. When anyone is sexually assaulted, the questions of “What was she doing there?” “What was she wearing?” and “Is she normally very sexually promiscuous?” are all irrelevant. Most people will claim that they’d never ‘victim blame’ but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talking about a girl who was taken advantage of, stating that she needs to learn to watch how much she can drink. Or that it’s their own fault for not knowing their limit. Instead of trying to shame the victim we need to use that energy against the perpetrator.

The news of the Rape culture that goes on in the US military shocked most, but these sorts of things are something that’s gone on for as long as we’ve had wars. What’s encouraging is that so many men are beginning to stand with women in the fight against rape. A stand that women for so long had to endure alone. India has an entire organization of men who are educating and pushing for an end to sexual assaults(see video here). While it’s easy to point to a developing nation’s shortcomings when it comes to justice, we in the US have plenty of our own. Right now because of the press this is getting, many people are paying attention and even getting angry and protesting. However humans are a fickle breed. We can quickly loose sight of our ideals and move on to the next big cause. That’s why it’s important that we don’t’ let this go. That we write to our representatives and tell them that if a woman loves her country enough to join the military, then her country should care enough to protect her from being sexually assaulted. And, her country should be willing to dispense the resources necessary to ensure justice for all rape victim in the service.

Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik creates a sculpture to pay homage to the gang rape victim who died early Saturday, in Puri, India, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012

I rarely use the word ‘hate’. But I will admit that I hate rapists; just the thought of the pain and suffering they cause disgusts and infuriates me. But our current handling of this crime worldwide is abysmal. Receiving an F Grade doesn’t even do justice to a rate of 3%. And unless we continue to pressure our politicians to do something about it, that number won’t change. Thanks for reading

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