Project Unbreakable: A Must Watch

This project is truly remarkable and I would be selling myself short if I didn’t share this on my blog. For the many critics and cynics out there, I hope this shows you that the issue I am talking about is indeed serious and affects a numerous number of people, from all walks of life and both genders.

Image Courtesy: projectunbreakable.tumblr.com

Image Courtesy: projectunbreakable.tumblr.com

 What resonated with me the most was this one line in the video that exemplifies everything my blog stands for.

“I realized that I had the ability to make a huge difference in a world where sexual abuse is shamed and kept quiet.”

I hope you take the time to watch this video and share it with your friends and family. Do also visit the Project Unbreakable blog for regular updates.

We have a voice, lets use it.

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Why Women May Be Perpetuating Rape Myths

As women, when issues of rape are brought to the table, we often point the finger whole-heartedly at men. However, in a recent survey, almost a third of the women surveyed claimed that there are varying degrees of rape. The same proportion also believe that if a woman does not fight back, the assault cannot amount to rape.

Image Courtesy: plus.google.com

Image Courtesy: plus.google.com

This implies that the problem could lie with women’s perception of what rape truly is, reducing the conviction rate of a crime that is evidently on the rise.

In fact, the latest figures from the UK’s Ministry of Justice, show an estimated 60,000 to 95,000 incidents of rape on average in the last three years. Only 15,670 of these were reported to police, of which 2,910 rape cases went to court. This resulted in a total of 1,070 rape prosecutions.

While the dismal conviction rate may have something to do with the UK’s judicial system, it also has something to do with the lack of knowledge among women in terms what really amounts to being raped. In the survey carried out by the Charity Rape Crisis, a quarter of the 1,000 women surveyed, incorrectly thought if someone was drunk it could not be classified as rape, while 60% thought it did not count if a woman does not say no.

What struck me the most was the fact that rape was so completely misunderstood. Rape is a subset of sexual violence, defined by the World Health Organization as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting.

It is easy to doubt a victim’s story especially if she was intoxicated when the assault had taken place. However, it should be noted that no woman who was drinking or drunk, is inviting rape. Instead, the fact that a person was too drunk or was under the influence of alcohol should imply that they were probably incapable of consenting to sex or making a sound decision in the first place.

The bottom line still remains that sex without consent is rape, and trying to justify a sexual encounter by claiming that the woman provided consent despite the fact that she was heavily intoxicated, is an extremely flawed argument.

Myths like this need to be dispelled not only so that rape can be reported accurately, but more so that the victim feels safe and secure enough in their decision to come forward with a possible rape charge.

What are your thoughts, can situations exist where rape isn’t rape? Can rape ever have varying degrees to constitute it actually happening?

We have a voice, lets use it.

For more information on rape myths, do check out the Rape Crisis website where accurate and clear information about what does and does not constitute rape is provided.

It’s Our Fault

Aren’t we all sick of being told that rape is our- the woman’s – fault? This sarcastic video, courtesy of the All Indian Bakchod (AIB), went viral a couple of days ago and demonstrates everything society needs to forget in order to get rid of a rape culture and more importantly the rape epidemic, especially in India. Blaming the victim is something that has to be stopped. Have a look and together let’s help change society’s mentality toward women and sexual violence.

It’s NOT my fault.

We have a voice, let’s use it.

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The Downside of Marriage: An Insight Into Marital Rape

Marital rape is taken lightly by governments all over the world, from first world states to the worst of the third world. In an attempt to wrap my head around this controversial topic I decided to do a little research of my own  and something in a blog post  I read caught my attention particularly.

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Image Courtesty: bubblews.com

“Criminalizing marital rape is a no brainer. There’s no need for even the phrase “marital rape” to exist. We don’t have “marital murder” after all. It’s just murder. The relationship of the victim to the perpetrator is completely irrelevant”.

While I do understand the concern with trying to accuse a husband of raping his wife, I do have to agree with the sentiment above, that rape is rape no matter who the perpetrator may be. It’s easy for people to dismiss this issue. Often, people and even women I’ve spoken with cite that there’s nothing wrong with a husband wanting to sleep with his wife, while the wife may be unwilling to for reasons revolving around laziness and pure lethargy. This is true and I agree fully. However, what these people fail to recognize is an implicit notion of consent despite the woman being tired.

Therefore, under any circumstance the above-mentioned example wouldn’t amount to rape anyway. Why? Because in order for someone to be raped or sexually assaulted, there cannot have been consent from the victim in the first place. Of course, consent is not considered real consent if it is obtained by force, intimidation or by deception. Women often choose not to resist a rape in order to survive. This does not mean however that she consented to what happened.

Having said that, let me just put it plainly: marital rape is wrong and there should be legal repercussions for the perpetrator. Not only can marital rape occur in relationships but, the scars left on marital rape victims are often more traumatizing than other rape victims, not that I’m keeping score, because any situation involving rape is devastating. However, according to the Rape, Abuse, Incest & National Network’s research, women who are victims of marital rape are more likely to experience repeated assaults than other rape victims. In fact, among battered women, sexual assault may be a routine part of the pattern of the abuse.

For example, a Nigerian lady named Temilade Temisan was a victim of routine physical, verbal and sexual abuse – that is too brutal to even put into writing – by her husband for years, all because she exerted her right to say no.

There is also an underlying pressure to stay with the perpetrator. A victim with children who lacks outside employment may be financially dependent on her spouse and feel there is no way to leave the situation.

Lastly, and most significantly, a victim may have difficulty identifying what has happened to them as ‘rape’ or as a crime for that matter. For many cultures, defining the other spouse’s conduct as rape or identifying someone she married and loves as a “rapist” can have negative repercussions that the victim may not have the capacity to deal with. This has resulted in cases of marital rape being one of the most rarely reported crimes, even today.

Having said that, I hope I have convinced you that marital rape is a serious issue and crime. The fact that countries like Singapore, marital rape is not a legal offense is rather disheartening to me. Not only does it send the message that women’s rights are not valued but it sends the more offensive message that women’s rights are valued less than a man’s rights.

What are your views? Do you guys believe that marital rape is a crime? If so, how can we change mindsets of governments to  ensure proper legislation for women around the world?

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Is the Death Penalty the Answer?

no-death-penalty-button-blog-13Image Courtesy: paxchristiusa.org

The death penalty has been raised around the world as a sufficient and much needed punishment for the crime of rape. The underlying belief is that such a tough punishment or national stance on rape will lead to diminishing incidences of rape and act as an effective deterrent.

Major human rights organizations, like Amnesty International have campaigned for years against the death penalty which violates one’s fundamental right to life. While I do agree that no court should have the capacity to take away one’s life, I believe the issue is more complex than that alone.

Let us look at China for example. According to a study conducted by US-China Today entitled: Rape in China, only 1 out of 10 cases of rape is likely to be reported. Furthermore, the study concluded that while the majority of us would like to believe that the perpetrators of such assault were strangers, the majority of these crimes were actually committed by someone the victim knew.

In fact, if the death penalty were the punishment for rape, wouldn’t it deter the victim from coming forward especially so if the perpetrator was one of their own family members. The entire system is based on the reporting of the case and who will report a case if the conviction would lead to the death of a father or brother or son?

Also, if you look at the actual laws in place in China, like India, the death penalty is actually the severest of penalties one can receive for rape. While, logically this should deter rapists, crimes against women haven’t gone down. Therefore, the correlation between invoking the death penalty and the consequent result of lower crime rate seems to be ill founded.

Tougher laws alone are not the answer. The problem in China and India is largely a cultural one. Violence against women is rooted in patriarchal gender relations where women are assigned roles based not on their capacity but norms and values that perpetuate male dominance and superiority. The gender inequality is embedded in all levels of the society such as employment, education and social status.

It is easy to look at the death penalty as a plausible solution to years of crimes against women. It seems almost justified in places India and China where rape is so rampant. However, rape has not stopped and it is almost foolish to think it will just because of the imposition of the death penalty.

Firstly, in order to be convicted, crimes of rape have to be reported. In patriarchal societies like India and China scores of rapes go unreported. In fact, the woman is often pressured by the authorities, her family or the attacker himself to recant her statement even if she does have the courage to go forward. Secondly, if no one is willing to listen, how can any rapist be convicted and sentenced to death?

The problem is not the law alone. The real problem lies in the systematic failure to recognize rape as an actual crisis or epidemic as I have put it many times before. It is not considered a serious enough issue and therefore, even asking for the death penalty seems foolish. While it may bring justice for one victim, hundreds of others are still left in the dark.

According to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, what should be focused on is whether the police are serious about such crimes, how quickly the matter is tried in a court and whether there is a system that punishment will be given to those responsible. Every case should not be treated as different but be given the due diligence that it truly deserves.

What do you guys think? Is the death penalty the answer?

We have a voice, use it.

Are 3 Years Enough?

Image

The youngest of the accused in the Delhi gang rape case has been sentenced to three years in reform home.

According to the Indian Penal Code, crimes of murder are punishable by death. More so, after this horrific incident in December 2012, and the public uproar it created, the government of India toughened laws and imposed the death penalty in cases where a victim of rape is left in a vegetative state after an attack.

For many this brought a sense of hope and it was precisely this hope and the expectation of a tougher sentencing that has left the entire nation reeling.

Kiran Bedi, an Indian Social Activist and a retired Indian Police Service officer  expressed her frustration via Twitter, saying that “Courts need not be mechanical robots. We make laws and then interpret them not to be enslaved but do justice to victims too“.

However, according to the Indian juvenile court system, 3 years is the maximum sentence a juvenile can receive. By this standard, the convicted murderer received the maximum sentence and justice was served.

Yet, one should ask whether age should have been the only factor that prevented this criminal from being persecuted by the fullest extent? In my opinion, whether the accused was 17 or 18 should be irrelevant. Emotional and intellectual maturity is what should be the focus of attention as opposed to the juvenile’s numerical age. One year does not separate the men from the boys. After all, five of the attackers were over the age of 18 and not one of them acted like a proper man.

Also, according to investigative reports, this man was accused of being the most violent while carrying out this horrific crime. How then is it fair that the most violent perpetrator be sentenced to simply three years at a reform home?

The answer is simple: it isn’t fair. Instead what would be fair is for heinous crimes to be prosecuted differently from ordinary crimes, like petty theft. The judicial system should have in place different legal provisions based on the seriousness of the crime committed. Justice for such crimes should not be determined by age alone. After all, does it really make sense to give a murderer and a thief a similar sentence? I think not.

While the Juvenile Justice Board believes in reform as opposed to punishment, it seems almost ridiculous to believe that such a criminal could truly reform  after having committed such a heinous crime.

I am inclined to believe in second chances. However, I am also inclined to believe in justice for the victim, who isn’t with us anymore. The facts remain that this man was one of the six men who attacked her, and ultimately murdered her. I am no lawyer, nor am I a expert. I am however a woman, and this verdict was a slap in the face for women everywhere and particularly in India. On a daily basis women in India are sexually harassed, from catcalls on streets and groping in buses to rapes. Quite often the police refuse to accept complaints by female victims and even accuse them of inviting unwanted male attention by dressing provocatively.

This verdict was an institutional failure and has made the Indian judicial system look like a complete joke.

What are your views? Are you pro-reform or pro-punishment? Are 3 years enough?

We have a voice, use it.