As reports of rape rise throughout the world, women are carrying the blame while men let men keep raping.
When rape is a pandemic problem across cultures and societies, there is a fundamental issue with the value of women in the eyes of much of the male population. Be it in the United States, China, India, or anywhere in the world, every society seems to encourage men, either overtly or subversively, to view a woman’s body as a tool to utilize in achieving personal gratification. If this was not the case, we would not be hearing about rape from every social strata of every corner of the globe.
In the past year, stories of horrific rape have peppered world news media. This past week in China, the 17-year-old son of a Chinese military elite and the son’s friends are being tried for gang raping a girl they met at a bar, according to the New York Times, the BBC and Reuters. Last week, the Huffington Post and CNN reported that five men in Mumbai were being tried for gang raping a photojournalist and assaulting her partner. In December 2012, a gang rape victim in India died from internal wounds.
Rape is no stranger in our own backyards. In March, two Ohio teenage boys were convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl, according to FOX News. NBC News and Pioneer Press of St. Paul, Minn., report that nine boys and men in St. Paul were convicted for gang raping a 15-year-old girl. In Cleveland, Texas, several men were also convicted of gang raping an 11-year-old girl, according to ABC News. These are only a few of the sexual atrocities against women happening around the world.
In all the rape cases above, defense lawyers and court officials have stooped to calling into question the character of the victims, audaciously suggesting, “She must have had it coming to her.” Excuses such as, “Men will be men,” have been seriously considered factors in judging the accused’s actions.
It was the woman’s fault. This is the age-old cop-out for men who choose not to control their sexual impulses and take advantage of women. She was dressed provocatively, she was in the wrong place, she is too open, she should be at home, she should not be outside by herself, she is a prostitute anyway, she tempted me, she flirted with me, she disrespected me, she touched me, she looked at me, she aroused me, and the list of self-absorbed excuses goes on.
It is unjust that women cannot walk through town, go to a party or travel safely with no threat of violence just because she is the wrong sex. Women are people, too, with dreams, aspirations, feelings, value and dignity. Rapists should be dealt the same kind of cultural shame that they heap upon their victims. Too often the offenders slip free, while the victim is left to deal with a lifetime of shame, brokenness, pain, and insecurity.
As long as it is culturally tolerable for men to believe they cannot help “being men” – whatever that means – and blame women for their own lack of self-control, rape will always be an issue. Men can indeed control themselves and help lift up the status of women. Many a good man has succeeded in doing so before. There is only need for more to join hands to eliminate this crime against their sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, mothers, and friends.
Women can protest all they want, and we should. But it is not until men themselves become convinced that women are equally valuable human beings whose bodies and lives should be respected, not desecrated, that rape will finally cease to haunt society.
-Hilary Sandberg is a junior public relations and chinese major from Puyallup. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.