I was out in Rio de Janeiro this past Saturday evening, and not far from where that young American woman and her boyfriend were. So when I read about the horrifying gang rape, assault, and robbery that ensued, I felt sick and nauseated. But for more than the simple fact that it could have been me. This gang rape and assault of a young woman and her partner on a minibus is frighteningly similar to the gang rape of the young Indian woman on a private bus in New Delhi earlier this year. Down to the fact that the bus driver not only condoned the rape, but participated as well, and that the weapon of choice was an iron rod. In both cases, the young women were not even alone, but instead accompanied by their partners.
The gang rape in New Delhi generated such outrage that a modern-day feminist revolution is occurring throughout the entire country. The incident highlighted the pervasive sexual violence and gender inequality that has been a historic fixture in Indian society. My friends took to the streets and were part of millions of Indians who demanded greater penalties for sexual offenders and an end to the sexist attitude that rape victims were responsible for what happened to them.
But what IS this seemingly global culture of rape, and where did it come from? More importantly, what is necessary to end it?
“We don’t raise boys to be men,” said former NFL quarterback turned feminist Don McPherson. “We raise them not to be women, or gay men.”
That brutally honest statement delivered at the March 8th launch of “Ring the Bell” — a bold campaign developed by global human rights organizationBreakthrough to secure “concrete, actionable promises” from 1 million men to end discrimination and sexual assault against women — speaks directly to the entrenched gender roles and expectations that have made rape one of the most pervasive crimes in our society.
Indeed, many people still believe that the way that women dress and behave is responsible for whether or not they are sexually attacked. The evidence of this is too numerous to recount. The rapists in the New Delhi case told the young girl as she boarded the bus that it was improper to be out late at night with a man, and that she was a slut for doing so. The now infamous police chief of Toronto said that women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be raped. And many police officials in India have been quoted saying that women know where they should avoid going, and that they should always dress modestly in order not to excite men.
Thankfully, a lot of people have spoken out against this global culture of rape and official institutions have taken action. India has now enacted much harsher penalties for sexual crimes, the International Court on War Crimes now considers rape a war crime, and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) ended with a historic result: a global agreement to prevent and end violence against women & girls all over the world. Watch the Say NO – UNiTE Video of the Week! http://ow.ly/jFDQ2
Here I quote an article from CNN called “End Culture of Rape in 2013” by Lauren Wolfe.
“OK. That’s one part of the equation. But what about the larger part — what about prosecuting men who are committing these crimes? Yes, women often do not report sexualized violence. But they do not report because they know that, at least in this country, onlythree of every 100 men accused of rape will ever spend a day in jail.
It’s time to focus on the perpetrators. And it’s also time for men and women to engage in a consistent dialogue on stopping rape.
Let’s publicly and privately declare all sexualized violence unacceptable.
Let’s hold perpetrators legally accountable and once and for all change laws and justice systems that continue to fail women.
Let’s understand that rape is not a problem that affects only women: It affects families, communities, entire cultures. It is not an inevitability, but the outcome of a system based in discrimination, just as slavery was.
Let’s declare 2013 The Year to End Rape. If this is a problem that men have created, this is a problem that men can help solve.
The time is now.”