With the gang rapes from New Delhi and Steubenville, Ohio, the issue of violence against women is at the forefront of the news. For some people, the fact that so many women are raped, whether in India or the US, is surprising. Not to me. All it takes is walking down a popular street where you hear people cat calling you, making sexual comments, and shouting at you. This is sexual harassment. Somewhere along the line, these men (and yes they’re generally all from men) were encouraged either directly or by never having been disciplined. Then it’s a wonder why the men who raped the high school girl in Ohio show no remorse for their actions and even bragged about it to others. Then these seemingly small encounters turn into bigger things: sexual assault, abuse, and rape.
Here are a few statistics on sexual assault both globally and in the United States.
22 million women in the United States have been raped in their lifetime.
(National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010)
Globally, at least one in three women and girls is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. (UN Commission on the Status of Women, 2/28/00)
Almost one-third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner.
(FBI, Uniform Crime Reports 2001)
One out of every five American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
(The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010)
Factoring in unreported rapes, about 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. 15 out of 16 will walk free.
(Probability statistics based on US Department of Justice Statistics)
*http://www.feminist.com/antiviolence/facts.html is the main source for where I got these statistics.
This article does a much better job than I can of talking about how the problem of violence against women is not an Indian problem, and American problem, an African problem, but rather a global problem. While it may look different for different cultures (honor killings, rape, spousal abuse, etc), it all has the same cause and effect. We treat women like commodities and we do not do anything to teach our men how to be real men.
For another look at the effect of the way we interact with little boys and men, check out this Vlog which splits the responsibility between adults in our community, and media. We have to stop showing men that the idea of a man is someone who is tough, gets lots of girls, knows how to fight, and makes more money than a woman.
What are your thoughts? Why do you think men rape? How can we stop it? Do you think these high profile rapes will encourage change?