While the world-wide problem of rape is a horrendous issue to be taken any way but serious, it does seem somewhat strange that the problem has been thrown to the forefront of news programs in March. In America, the month of March is commonly known for two reasons: it is the month of Easter, and National Women’s History Month. Whatever the reason be for shining light on the darkest of subjects, rape is an issue that effects men, women, and children the world over.
On Saturday March 14 in New Delhi, India, a 70-year-old Catholic nun was raped as her church was robbed by a gang of seven to eight men. Her sexual assault was more than likely a punishment for resisting the robbers and attempting to get help from anyone she could. While the early reports that came in claimed it was a gang rape similar to another highly publicized incident in India where the young woman died afterwards, it was later found that only one of the men had raped the elderly Servant of God. The truth is that whether the woman was raped by seven men or only one, the crime is no less important. Rape is rape.
Psychological effects on survivors of sexual assault are at times worse than any physical damage that has occurred. In this most recent case of a 70-year-old nun, the woman had lived her entire life devoted to the God she believes in, and had remained a virgin until Saturday. A true test of faith is what this once pure-bodied woman is now facing. Rape statistics are typically higher in populations such as India, where slums are vastly overpopulated and the widespread poverty line is so great. Though this statement is true, these types of incidents happen in more developed countries such as America as well because rape is a world-wide problem, it knows no borders.
Hitting theaters this month is a documentary made by two rape survivors called The Hunting Ground. In it, the documentary brings to light the staggering number of women who are raped on their college campuses throughout the United States. According to anonymous survey statistics, one in five women are raped during their time in college, mostly by fellow students. This number may seem shocking, but it is most likely dramatically lower than the truth. Many individuals who are sexually assaulted never report their attackers.
Those that do face their fears are many times not taken as seriously as one would expect. The Hunting Ground details such situations. For instance, one Erica Kinsman accused Florida State star football player Jameis Winston of sexually assaulting her, but the college’s investigators cleared Winston of any wrong doing. No charges were brought upon the Heisman Trophy winner by any official police force. While this young man’s career is set to take off starting with this year’s NFL draft, other stars are dealing with large amounts of accusations as well. Stars that many grew up watching on television wearing sweaters, the comedian named Bill Cosby.
Though for the most part the Cosby accusers have been told the statute of limitations means he cannot be prosecuted, the sheer amount of women who have accused him of rape show that even the famous are not immune to sexual assault. The famous singer Madonna has been sharing her story as of late, about how when she first moved to New York she was raped. Like many women, Madonna never came forward to face her rapist in court because she felt it would be too humiliating. On the Howard Stern show she stated, “I was already violated in the worst way, the last thing I wanted to do was talk about it. Make it public? No thanks, I felt humiliated enough.”
This humiliation factor is prevalent in almost all cases of sexual assault, be it a woman who feels ashamed of being raped, or a man or child. Rape knows no race, gender, political or religious affiliation. It is an act of violence that happens every minute of the day, the world over.
Though the sexual assaults on women are more talked about with United Nations statistics stating that one out of every ten women in the world under 18 has been forced to have sex. This statistic does not include the number of survivors over 18, nor the number of male children, or males in general. It is assumed that to get an accurate count on the number of people in the world that has been sexually assaulted, molested, or raped is impossible. The amount is incalculable.
Awareness regarding the world-wide problem of rape is a good start to the issue in general, but it is a small step towards a solution light years away. Only by every survivor coming forward to take a stand against their attacker can any forward progress be accomplished. Come forward survivors, be courageous enough to point a finger or name a name. Rape culture will not change if the stigma behind it does not fall as survivors stand.
By Benjamin Johnson
Photo by Rachael Towne – Flickr License