victim-blaming

Egypt's Sexual Terrorism

Last month, the United Nations issued a statement expressing “deep concern” after more than two dozen women reported they had been sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square—in some cases, with extraordinary violence—during demonstrations marking the two-year anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. […]

On Monday, the human rights commission for the Islamist-dominated Shura Council held a press conference, provocatively stating that women are to blame for sexual assaults against them. Women “know they are among thugs,” said Adel Afify, a member of the committee representing the ultra-conservative Asala Party. “They should protect themselves before requesting that the Interior Ministry does so. By getting herself involved in such circumstances, the woman bears 100 percent responsibility.” Another member of the council alleged that the tents at protest sites encourage “prostitution.”

Protesters gathering to demonstrate against the surge in incidents of rape are refusing to be cowed by this sort of rhetoric, but they’re fighting an institutionalized misogyny. This war will not be over by Christmas.

"Something Goes Wrong"

The Amherst College Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct (SMOC) has released its report, “Toward a Culture of Respect: The Problem of Sexual Misconduct at Amherst College”, one of several such reports commissioned in reponse to the college’s chronic problem of sexual assault. Dana Bolger, writing for It Happens Here, an online magazine published specifically to discuss this very problem, dismantles a number of common rape myths found in the study. For example, blaming “accidental” rape on alcohol consumption:

The existence of a link between alcohol and sexual assault is undeniable. But the common conception of the nature of this link—a conception the Amherst report espouses—understands alcohol as a cause of rape, rather than what it is: a weapon. Studies suggest that the vast majority of perpetrators utilize alcohol to intoxicate their victims—or to target already intoxicated women or men—thereby diminishing victims’ ability to resist, eliminating the necessity for physical force (and thus the existence of physical evidence), and reducing victims’ likelihood of being believed if and when they report their rapes. So too is it a myth to say that intoxicated men simply fail to ‘read the signs’ and thus accidentally rape people. Further, studies indicate that perpetrators deliberately get drunk to lower inhibition so that they can proceed with an act they intended all along.

Via Feministing.

Skirt the Issue

Creative grassroots activism at its best: 25 Indian men spent this past Saturday wearing skirts as protest against the belief that women’s “immodesty” bears partial responsibility for rape.

One man said: “Please don’t judge a woman for what she wears, it’s more important that you respect her for her character and what she is. Whatever she does, please leave it to her.”

Another Indian Woman Gang Raped on a Bus

Trigger Warning for Rape

I’ve had 24 hours to get over this, and it still makes me so angry.

According to multiple reports, a 29-year-old woman was riding the bus home to her village Friday evening in the northern Punjab state when the driver and conductor refused to come to a stop. Instead, they took her to a remote area outside of her town, met up with five other men, and took turns raping her for the rest of the evening. They dropped her off in her village in the morning when she immediately went to authorities. Six men have been arrested, and there’s currently a man hunt for the seventh. All arrested have admitted their involvement in the rape.

The second article linked, which was posted earlier today, claims that the seventh man has now been arrested.

Two hopeful facts I glean from this incident: the woman immediately told her family and the police, and none of the reports of her story that I have read indicate that anyone has blamed her “risky” behavior or questioned her morals. Most likely the public is just too outraged right now to tolerate that sort of nonsense; let’s hope that becomes permanent.

Falsely Accused Rape Victim Awarded $1.5M Settlement

Sara Reedy was held up by a convenience store robber, who then sexually assaulted her. When she reported the incident, the detective assigned to the case disbelieved her and accused her of robbing the store herself.

Following further inquiries, Reedy was arrested for theft and false reporting and, pregnant with her first child (by her now ex-husband), thrown in jail. She was subsequently released on bail, but lost her job. More than a year after attacking Reedy, the man struck again, but this time he was caught and confessed to the earlier crime.

When the charges against her were dropped, Reedy sued the police and has now won a marathon legal battle and a $1.5m (£1m) settlement against the detective who turned her from victim into accused.

I can totally buy a dishonest employee making up a robbery to cover up her theft, but what possible motivation could she have for also inventing a rape, with all the attendant tribulation that brings?

Via The Frisky.

“Why Didn’t You Scream?”

Trigger Warning for Rape

A multiple-assault survivor recounts how she was raped by a college friend while high, then raped multiple times by a different friend during the interim between when she reported the first rape and when her school eventually held a hearing about the incident.

Each night, I have nightmares. I don’t remember the last time I slept more than two hours in a row without waking up; crying, shallow breaths, dreaming about being raped, being assaulted, or imagining my friends in these situations. Some people wonder why I stay up so late.

I sleep with the lights on now.

"Come Into My Parlor"

Trigger Warning for Rape

The defense attorney in a gang rape case called the victim—an 11-year-old girl—a “spider”, as in, “the spider and the fly”.

Because having oral and vaginal intercourse with 20 different men in four months is something every pre-adolescent girl schemes to achieve.

Blame Anything But Rapists

The Haryana district of India has recently seen an upsurge of rapes, many of them gang rapes, many of Dalits. While truly horrific (and—trigger warning—there is some pretty horrific stuff in this article), the violence is apparently not quite horrific enough to elicit anything but nonsense from the local government, who have blamed false reporting due to “fake rape conspiracy”, unabashed public hand-holding, and female sexual desire itself for the rise in incidence of rape. The absolute best (worst), though? Diet:

One councilmen[sic] explains “To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents. Chow mein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts.”

“biting, kicking, scratching, screeching, groaning or gesturing”

The Supreme Court of Connecticut has overturned the sexual assault conviction of a man who raped a cerebral palsy victim, saying that even though she has the mental competence of a three-year-old she should have been able to resist by one of the above actions.

Zack Beauchamp nicely breaks down several of the flaws in this argument, but he oddly misses the most fundamental one: that it puts the onus on victims to provide non-consent rather than on rapists to obtain consent.

Via Feministing.

Justice for One

Dr. Thomas Bray has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the assault and rape of Jennifer Bennett:

Bray slapped, raped, sexually abused and strangled her until she passed out. She thought she was going to die– and so she’d resorted to scattering her hair that he’d pulled out around his condo, so police investigating her disappearance would know she was there.

Bennett showed remarkable foresight, not only in this action, but in her counter-instinctual decision not to shower before going to the police. She also successfully resisted a subpoena of her Facebook account, email, and personal computer and a court-ordered investigation of her Google search history.

It’s a victory on every level, not just because her rapist was convicted and sentenced but because the victim-blaming privacy violations were not permitted be carried out. As sad and frustrating as it is that women have to be this bold and determined to obtain real justice for sexual violence, this is a win.