It happens increasingly more often, that not only do women not get justice when they report sexualised violence and threats, they also get sued for having the audacity to report the violation of their human rights. Men who accuse women of being “false” rape-accusers are often believed, but women who accuse a man of violating their rights are automatically assumed to be lying. Worse even, an immediate investigation into her entire life ensues. Everything she has ever done or said since the moment she was born is under close scrutiny, while the history of the accused in left untouched and is even off-limits to media and lawyer probing, but the women get one of the closest background-checks by an army of reporters and lawyers.
“Who is she? ” “Where was she born?” “Who were her parents and where did they come from?” “What is her name?” while we often keep the names of the accused a secret unless he is already well known. “What does she look like?” “Is she pretty?” “Has she ever had sex before?” “Was there ever a man who wanted to have sex with her?” “What does she do for a living and how much money does she make?” “Is she involved in politics?” “Has she ever had an abortion?”
In short, the race is on to find evidence of a lack of moral character. They will keep digging till they found something and what they can’t find, they make up. Her phone gets tapped, her e-mail account broken into and she is followed around day and night. She becomes an instant celebrity if the man accused is high-profile enough and it always ends badly for her. The women who reported Assange, without even accusing him of rape, are in hiding.
There could even be half a dozen women accusing him of rape and intimidation and he will still get off. But everyone feels really sorry for him and literally want to kill the women who showed a little backbone. Last year alone is littered with examples of this and it only gets worse.
The average statistics in western nations indicate that 20% of all rapes are even reported and less than 1% of them result in a prison sentence. Less than 2% of rapes are deemed ”unfounded” and that number is only based on a lack of evidence that a certain acts took place. If a victim of a rape waits too long or showers before going to the hospital for a humiliating examination of her genitals, there is already a chance of her report ending up in that 2% range. these statistics vary little from year to year and country to country and are depressing indeed.
Still there are a great number of rapists in jail. Can you complete the math? To summarize this means that rape happens every second of every day to an estimate of 1 in 4 women in western nations alone and the vast majority of the rapists get off scott-free.
Rape is so normal in our culture that people hardly recognize rape even when it happens to them. People expect a rapist to be a stranger who jumps out of the bushes in the middle of the night in a deserted area. Who will first kill a woman’s chaperone and then proceed to beat the woman till she is (nearly) unconscious and finally rape her and then leave her and the chaperone behind severely bleeding and heavily injured if not both dead. This is what most people believe rape is and it doesn’t help that the media shows mostly the portrayal of a rape.
Most people don’t expect to be raped by a parent or husband or boyfriend. A friend they have known and trusted for years who suddenly decides not to take no for an answer. A co-worker or boss who decides to use some pressure to force a sexual encounter. People also don’t feel the way they expect to feel. They expect to feel fear and justifiable anger towards the person who raped them. Instead what many experience is shock, surprise, shame and confusion and self-doubt. They initially search for answers by examining their own behavior and feel reluctant to being regarded as a victim. Because that implies a powerlessness and weakness and who wants to feel or be weak? On the other hand, if they did have power enough to stop their rapist doesn’t that mean they are to blame? Does that mean they weren’t raped?
I never understood why slut-walkers were so keen on claiming the word “slut”, but completely reluctant to reclaim the word “victim”, because that is what we are when we talk about being raped, how we have been made a victim and that we are somehow to blame for and supposed to be ashamed of being a victim. That victims have no agency or power and what we couldn’t stop others from doing to us becomes our whole identity.