All posts tagged: Rape

“Speaking the Unspeakable”: Sexual Violence in Conflict

Their suffering and desperation was so great that they begged them to kill them, to end their pain once and for all… but the men who had been raping them replied, “No, we’re going to leave you alive so you can die of sadness.” This is the harrowing story told in the documentary “The Uncondemned” of the first time genocide, rape and sexual violence were prosecuted in an international tribunal. But this isn’t just a story of sadness and grief; it’s also a story of hope and healing. It is a story about the three brave survivors and witnesses who testified at the tribunal, identified then only as JJ, NN and OO. Co-director Michele Mitchell said: “In the face of enormous tragedy and pain, the fact that three of them were laughing about the plane journey shows their great resilience and demonstrates how they had kept their humanity.” I was privileged to watch this amazing documentary when it was screening in New York City. I left the theater with a heavy heart, but also feeling extremely encouraged and …

I Feel Rage – And You Should Too

I have never been raped, but the threat of rape is embedded into my conscious and subconscious. It’s a part of me; it’s a part of being a women in the vast majority of the world. Recently, I got a treadmill. In the middle of a run, my partner casually walked in and began talking to me. I jumped, nearly tripping on the machine as my heart rate seemed to double. I screamed, yelling that he should never, never surprise me on a run again. Never. He didn’t understand why I was so upset; he was just asking if I wanted him to pick up a post-run latte for me. When I’m running outdoors, I explained, I’m on alert for any man who might sneak up behind me. Even though I was running in my own home and even though I heard a familiar voice, I panicked because my brain is so programmed to fear approach during those moments when I’m alone on the trail. The threat of rape is very real. I feel it …

To Brock Turner’s Father: Gentle People Do Not Rape

In your letter to the judge, you write that your son, the convicted rapist, is a person with “an easygoing personality — that people like to be around, whether they are male or female.” You proceed to state that your son has “a very gentle and quiet nature and a smile that is truly welcoming to those around him.” I have something to tell you, Mr. Turner: Gentle people do not rape. Your son is not a victim here. Your son is not paying “a steep price for 20 minutes of action”. Your son is a rapist – and for the crime he committed, his sentence is anything but steep. It is a travesty. Brock’s life has not been “deeply altered by the events of January 17th and 18th”, as you claim in your letter – Brock’s life has been altered by his decision to rape a woman. Referring to it as “actions” or “events” is a ridiculous attempt to not acknowledge what your son actually did to this woman, and the fact that no …

Europe, Don’t See Refugees as a Threat!

Terrorism, violence against women, unemployment – these are true threats that we are currently facing in Europe, yet far too often these issues are being equated with the refugee crisis that is visibly pressuring European countries. That equation is not only false, it is also a threat to our societies. Recently, I was asked what we should do about the refugee crisis in our country (Sweden), because “refugee men and boys are coming here with a culture of violence and rape women.” I was shocked that someone so close to me could have such a perspective. Although I got angry, I realize that I can’t blame him entirely, because media is constantly painting that picture. So, for those who may be influenced by that horrible image. Let me break it down for you in a few brief points: Refugees are fleeing for their lives. Don’t for a second believe that people choose to leave their homes, risk their lives on dangerous journeys and come to places where they have no security and don’t speak the language, if …

Gender Based Violence and the Refugee Crisis

In the last few years, we have heard the term ‘refugee crisis’ so often, it has practically lost it’s meaning for us. The examples are countless: from recent conflicts, like the Syrian war, age-old economic asylum, as seen on the US-Mexico border or the flow of migrants from Indonesia to Australia, the powerful surge in refugees to Europe now making international headlines, or myriad smaller crisis between smaller neighbouring nations and with the internally displaced. “The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a nonprofit group, estimates that about 60 million people are displaced around the world right now, a figure higher than the estimated 50 million people left displaced at the conclusion of World War II.” – Peter Dizikes, MIT It is difficult not to grow numb to the plight of refugees, when it seems there are so many, in every corner of the world. Added to which, language and cultural barriers make it difficult to connect with those living in circumstances that are already impossible to imagine, much less understand. Yet, refugee crises are one of the great tragedies of the …

The Value of a Rape

We’ve all read the news about the refugee crisis in Europe. We’ve seen images of people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, flooding to the borders of European nations as they flee conflict, war and terrorism in their home countries. The pressure on Europe is on, and our nations are now faced with a situation where we can either show our humanity and compassion – or turn the other way. Unfortunately, the refugee crisis is bringing to light an uglier side of Europe – of how we value the security, safety and humanity of women and girls, both those already living in our countries and those coming to us looking for a refuge to flee from the horrors they face at home. In my native country, Finland, two rapes in which the suspected perpetrators are recently arrived refugees have dominated the news cycle and social media over the past few weeks, and given more fuel to the already rampant anti-immigration rhetoric that is happening not only in Finland, but all over Europe. My problem isn’t with the …

In DRC, Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict and at Home

By Nina Ford, Communications Associate, Promundo. Women and girls in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have experienced devastating effects of conflict, particularly when it comes to sexual violence. Research from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) in eastern DRC confirms that 22% of women were raped as part of the conflict, and almost 30% were forced to witness sexual violence. Frequently, the violence does not stop there: men often reject their spouses who have been raped or respond with further violence. Kyalu and her husband Abby, who live in eastern DRC, know this to be true. After Kyalu experienced sexual violence, perpetrated by rebels in 2008, Abby began to use violence against her at home. Through group therapy, Abby started to take responsibility for his violence, and for its prevention – overcoming the trauma of the conflict to begin living peace together. This is the story they wanted to tell: During the war in 2008, Kyalu and Abby traveled to the Congolese village of Walikale in search of work in the coltan …

The Repetition Compulsion: Why Rape Victims Are More Likely To Be Assaulted Again

In a society where the subject of rape is still taboo, the idea of even one attack is hard to grasp. The idea of multiple attacks seems far beyond probability. This makes it unimaginably hard for the considerable number of victims who do undergo multiple sexual assaults. It’s not an unusual phenomenon. A little known fact is that being sexually assaulted puts you at a much higher risk of being assaulted again in the future, as does childhood sexual abuse. Sometimes referred to as revictimization, it is not exclusive to sexual assault. Victims of domestic violence are more likely to undergo it a second time. Even robberies and burglaries seem to be self-propogating (and significantly so. Being robbed once places you at a nine times higher risk of being robbed again, and being burgled means you have four times more reason to lock up your house.) Being sexually assaulted greatly increased the risk of future assaults, with one study purporting that being sexually assaulted once meant a woman was 35 times more likely than others to be revictimized. …

We need to talk about Black Women NOW

Precilla* was raped by her cousin when she was nine and later by an uncle. She never spoke about it. Why? Her father and other men in her family were always talking about protecting her. But instead of protecting her, they were raping her. Confused, she chose to remain silent. The reality for many black women is silence and the reasons why they choose this are complex. For many black women silence means survival. As Feminista Jones says, the bodies of black women have been used for labour and exploited to serve the needs of others while our needs are swept under the carpet. We are ‘othered’ – taught to be silent about the problems we face, reminded that racism is the bigger issue, not sexism or violence. Black girls are taught that you do not talk about problems. As a black woman, you deal with it. Loyalty to the “community” reigns supreme, even when the community (brothers, fathers and sons) are often responsible for violence and abuse.  As a result, many women and girls remain silent about …