Neiha Lasharie, 4 Jan 2013
Phoebus Online is a magazine that thrives on giving young voices a platform – and this particular young voice is a livid one. I don’t care about social sensitivities at the moment, nor am I particularly fazed by cultural sensitivities – because this is something that needs to be read and understood by each and every one of us.
We have internalized misogyny and in doing so, we have perpetuated a rape culture, one where the victims are blamed, where the first question on a person’s mind when hearing about sexual assault is “Well, what was she wearing?”
Let’s get one thing clear – rape is not a result of sexual desire. Rape cannot be pinned down to sexual frustration, or excused by a marital setting, because by definition, rape is any sexual act that is carried out without the consent of at least one person involved.
Rape is an instrument of inequality, dominance, and an ideology so deeply rooted in society that victims are more often than not blamed for being raped. It is rooted in cultures where victims are afraid to even report rape for fear of being shamed. It is rooted in a patriarchy where people can use rape as a method of punishment in isolated areas. It is rooted in a perverse fixation with “honor,” as though honor is something that can be bartered, bought and sold, and negotiated – as though honor is something that can be universally defined to begin with. Even so-called “western,” developed, progressive MEDCs find themselves grappling with this global problem.
It is a problem rooted in a world where the biggest insult to a man is being equated to women; where male rape victims are virtually unheard of because no one wants to admit to being that “weak.” But ladies and gentlemen, male rape victims do exist, certainly not in as large a number as women, but a substantial number nonetheless, and one that CANNOT be ignored. It isn’t just about rape – it’s sexual harassment that happens daily and can be reported by any woman, every day. It’s as if society has imprinted a date on women where they can be seen as objects to be admired and hooted at in broad daylight without repercussions.
Rape is rooted in our mindsets. Which is why I say let the protests rage on. Let them not be dimmed by voices crying out for peace. Forget peace. This is when you shatter the peace to cry out in outrage. This is when you break down taboos and hush-we-don’t-talk-about-these-things ideals and say, “No! I reclaim my autonomy, I reclaim my right to justice!”
You want victory for Damini? For Mukhtaran Mai? For all the women who have succumbed to the trauma of rape? For the women who haven’t and rage on and fight? For the women who have accepted it and moved on but still have that scar marring their pasts?
Then get angry for all the people who’ve been assaulted and harassed and raped and molested. Get angry, and get angry loud. More rapes are left unreported than are not – shame on us for perpetuating this. It’s time to educate our men and women and children on this problem – raise your children right, raise them to be unafraid of speaking out against injustice. Teach them to believe that equality in all spheres of life is a necessity, not a privilege. Teach them respect; teach them the consequences of vile actions; teach them to be good human beings, not just culturally or societally or even religiously, but universally. Teach them that no matter what the state a woman is in, until and unless she has expressly given her consent, you have no right to her body, and similarly, teach your daughters that men are just as susceptible to rape.
Teach them without shame, and without lowered voices. That’s the only way to break the taboo.
Enough is enough. It’s about time we changed things. It’s about time we taught our boys not to rape and didn’t just rely on our girls to be careful, because they damn well shouldn’t need to be. No more using “rape” as a casual interjection in everyday speech. No more talk of “sluts” getting what was coming to them. No more hesitation before a woman can report her assault. No more inaction from the people who need to take action.
Tear the silence with a scream of outrage. It’s about time.