How much do we understand about rape?
What exactly is rape? How does that line up with the definition of consent? There is just not enough clarity as to how we define it. Rape stretches through into other areas as well. In most cases when rape goes to trial, it is not a case of who the perpetrator is or whether or not the sexual act occurred. The issue comes down to whether or not the both parties agreed. Was there consent between the involved parties? Most recently, the case of Ched Evans comes to mind. Although the details of the case have been hearsay for some time, it is hard to ignore it when a man spends some time in jail for it. While one cannot come right out and say whether or not this man was indeed guilty, as was initially the verdict of the court, others can similarly contest his innocence. Well, that is neither here nor there, and frankly not the aim of this article. Another thing that springs to mind is the conversation that Donald Trump was recorded talking about “grabbing women by the pussy”. We will look at scenarios and let you decide whether or not these would be considered to be rape or not. Is this rape? We will let you decide.
Rape is defined in the Merriem-Webster as an “unlawful sexual activity and usually, sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent!”, It can be categorised into sexual assault and statutory rape. The latter being the one that applies to offences committed against a minor.
Consent is simply permission from a person who is legally able to give such authorization. For instance, you cannot get consent from a minor, someone below the age of 16, which is the legal age at which someone can give consent. Consent given by a juvenile is considered to be invalid in a court of law. Minors are found as being able to consider all the implication of such actions. It is the role of guardians and the state at large to protect these vulnerable ones. The measure of any society should always be how we treat the least among us.
How to read the list below:
The list is not in any particular order. Number one is not necessarily the highest common state. The readers should also consider that in some countries, the bulk of rapes go unreported for various reasons. Women have been shamed into blaming themselves for being victims of rape. For a reason such as this one, some women would rather bear the burden than exposing themselves and their families to the disrepute that could result from reporting. Others are threatened or merely afraid of potential retaliation from their attackers in they are to get law enforcement involved. Barriers such as these need to continually be reviewed and broken if society is to become safer from sexual assault.
As of 2015, there were 15 617 cases reported in South Africa. These translates to about 147 cases per day, and about 6.127 rape cases every hour! Artist such as rapper Tumi of Tumi and the Volume touched on this subject on his POWA Mixtape. The intro addresses the likelihood of 1 in 3 girls getting raped in their lifetime. He also goes on to describe an encounter with a girl who ends up being sexually assaulted. There is clearly a problem with this issue in South Africa.
Based on figured on the Botswana police website, there were 1460 rapes and attempts in the first nine months of 2013. The value is minuscule in comparison to some of the other countries on this list. However, once you consider that the population of Botswana in the same period was a mere 2.01 million, you realise how big of a problem this is. The figures translate to 162.2 rape cases per month = 5.4 per day = 0.225 per hour. There is evidence to suggest a correlation between development and the number of rapes reported. Whether or not this is applicable in the case of Botswana is anyone’s guess.
Lesotho is also another very lowly populated nation. With a population of just 2.074 million, it is not much higher than that of Botswana. They are on this list based on the number of such offences committed per 100 000, which stood at 88.6 victims. It is easy to attribute these to the proximity to South Africa where the rates and the population are also very high.
For a country where King Muswati is honoured by getting to pick one new wife every year from a parade of girls to appear on this list is somewhat thought to provoke. The Instwala festival has long been widely criticised. As much as tradition ought to be preserved, some facets of it should be pruned for the times and the new challenges that it presents. Swaziland is also quite a small nation, with a small population.
Of all the countries that are on this list, Sweden is one of those that I was personally surprised with. The Swedish are known worldwide by their portrayal in films and in the media. The ice cool men with stunning women. There is clearly another side that is missed in this narrative. The fact that Sweden has the highest sexual assault rates in Europe is surprising. If I were researching rape in this country, I would have been very likely to approach it with the inaccurate hypothesis that the rates would be low. The UN recorded the rape in Sweden to be at 69 cases per 100 000 residents. The shocking part is that with these high crime rates, Sweden also has one of the lowest rates of conviction. Low conviction rates are something that would stop more victims from coming forward. Why bother if the perpetrators may just walk away?
Most countries unmatch crimes rates in the US. It comes as no surprise that sexual assault is also on this list of deviant acts that are common in the country. According to RAINN, every 2 minutes an American falls victim to some form of sexual assault. That translates to 720 sexual assaults per day, and over 21960 per month! Very few countries even come close to those sort of figures. One factor that is not to be ignored in this case is the large population of the United States, compared to other countries. As of 1998, an estimated, 17.7 million women had been victims of sexual assault or an attempt. 18-34-year-olds are the largest risk group today.
Rape is a taboo topic in most societies. This is no different in the UK. There are so many cover ups that have surfaced over the last few years. Institutions such as the BBC have been implicated. The case of the late Jimmy Saville shocked the public. How he was able to carry out such horrific acts and seemingly be protected is mindblowing. It makes you want to blow your brains out. The football abuse scandal has also hit the media with more and more former players coming forward to report. The fact that these things can happen at such large institutions and such large scales, for such a long time is petrifying.
The implication of this is that when similar cases do get into mainstream media, it becomes increasingly hard to get a free and fair trial. Case in point would be that of Ched Evans. The public is put in the unfortunate place of forming opinions on matters that we have little or no detail on.
Until a few years ago when I watched the BBC documentary, India’s Daughter I was unaware of the problem of rape in India. The documentary drew a broad range of emotions out of me. I was excited at the prospects and hopes that she had for her future. I found inspiration in the sacrifices that Jyoti Singh’s parents had made to get her through school, especially considering that some families in their society would have shunned the idea of getting a girl through school. In almost movie-like style I was saddened and even heartbroken at the fact that this tragedy occurred on her last night in the area. I was appalled at the men who would take a bus and drive around with such shameful and malicious intent. Worse off, I was angered by the lack of remorse and excuses that came from one of the accused that was interviewed in the documentary. As long as some men in India share his views, there is an uphill battle to be fought to eradicate this plague. If not for the wide media attention that this case got, many are of the opinion that this case would not have gotten the attention that it got from law enforcement. How have many other such cases not met the media eye? How many such criminals are still on the streets of Dehli?
Al Jazeera also made a new documentary about how there are places in Uttar Pradesh, India where one can buy rape videos. That is actually a thing. Less than $3 will buy you a video of someone being sexually assaulted. The fact that these videos continue to be produced alludes to a sick society where there is a market for such garbage.
I refuse to believe that the local police do not know about these videos. How much progress has India really made from India’s daughter to these rape videos? Is the banning of the documentary a sign of how the rotten core is being hidden from the world while women continue to suffer?
According to HelpAuckland, 1 in 3 girls may be abused sexually before they turn 16! For the males it drops to 1 in 7 by adulthood, which not great but better than before they even turn 16.
1 in 3 women will experience sexual assault within their lifetime
1 in 6 men will also suffer the same fate.
According to Sacha, 39% of Canadian adult women reported having suffered some form of sexual assault since the age of 16.
According to Casa, 17% of women and 4% of men have suffered sexual assault in some form since the age of 15.
Rape cases have been on a rise in Zimbabwe over the last few years. Just a quick search will reveal articles from various sources including UNICEF about this issue. Some have argued that this has always been the case, but is increasingly becoming more apparent as a result of the growth of private media (internet source: facebook, twitter and so on.) It is harder to hide it when the citizens have the power to speak on it.
There is a video that has been going viral on Facebook about this subject of gender-based violence in Zimbabwe. This was done by Build Zimbabwe Alliance.
Other countries worth of a mention:
Most of the news that the world consumes about Ethiopia is about high rates of poverty and droughts. We have all been moved by the adverts that come on our televisions about how we should donate such and such an amount to “feed” a child in this country. What none of us read about is what the women are in danger of.
You have been out on an incredible date. The chemistry has been visible and tangible. There have been all forms of physical contact up until this point. You drive her home, where she invited you in for a nightcap. You get inside her lovely flat where you have a tea and begin to kiss. After you have been making out for a while, she tells you that you are moving too fast and that she would like to slow down. You are obviously not very pleased about this; I mean what kind of man would? You insist that this must continue. She resists, but with your persistence she obliges. You leave afterwards, with very few words exchanged.
IS THIS RAPE?
You are on a night out with the lads and run into a lovely girl. You have both had a few drinks and decide to take the party back to yours. You bid your friends and hers farewell and get a taxi home. Upon arrival, you don’t even make it upstairs and have sex on the downstairs sofa. You both seem to enjoy this, and you would like to go a second time, to which she objects. You are already lying on top of her, so you proceed to penetrate regardless. She doesn’t voice any objection post this point. Afterwards, she says, “I told you I did not want to do this a second time.”
IS THIS RAPE?
You are out again with the boys. You meet up with some girls who you agree with to go to your shared flat to spend the night. Upon arrival, you decide you have had too much to drink so head to bed. One of the girls has made it clear that she’d like to join you, which you respond by making it clear that you are indeed going straight to sleep. You awaken in the middle of the night to find the lovely girl on top of you. You are engaging in intercourse.
IS THIS RAPE?
You have been married for years and have sex quite regularly. You are both very attracted to one another, which has always added to your spark. After a long day at work, you are feeling like having sex, which she says she is too tired. You have an argument, after which she feels guilty and lets you have her way with her.
IS THIS RAPE?
You are coming out of the bathroom in your shared house, and one of the boys is standing sheepishly in the hallway of your flat. He waits until you have passed before pulling your towel off you to leave you completely nude. You make it clear that you are not happy with this. He laughs it off and proceeds to make physical contact despite your protest. You pick your towel up and dash off.
IS THIS RAPE?
You go home with a guy after a night out. Neither of you seems to recall what happened from the time you get home. It is clear that you had sexual intercourse at some point. Neither of you remembers it nor remembers consenting to it.
IS THIS RAPE?
You call you ex-boyfriend after an argument with your new boyfriend. He comes and picks you up. After comforting you, one thing leads to another. You ended having sex with him. You begin to feel taken advantage of. He should not have pounced on you in your weakness.
IS THIS RAPE?
What most don’t realise about rape:
The causation seldom linked to the activities of the victim. What she wears or doesn’t wear are almost never the reason why she got raped. Dressing in a short skirt is not asking to be raped. Statistics of high sexual assault prevalence in countries such as India where dressing is more make a mockery of this premise. It is sad to note that this is a very common misguided opinion. The victim gets blamed for being victimised. I mortified when I watched the BBC documentary “India’s Daughter”, at just how the men involved did not see what they had done wrong. They blamed the girl for being out at night among other things. If this is the consensus in any of the countries where sexual assault is common, perhaps a starting point to remedying this is to challenge this narrative. Let us let the victim be the victim. We can no longer continue to tolerate excuses from the perpetrators.
THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA
In any decent democracy, the judiciary should be free of external influence. This is the case in the UK and the US. This, however, does not protect it from the media. To stand against media scrutiny as a whole is to stand against freedom of speech, which is a mainstay in a democracy. When the media begins to overreach and influence the decisions that are made by the courts, it begs the question, “How do we ensure a free and FAIR trial?”
The UK media was all over the Ched Evans case. Celebrities such as Jessica Ennis-Hill came out and condemned clubs that sought to give Ched another chance. Guilty as he may or may not have been at this point, should the media be vocal about cases that are still to go through the courts again? The judges are human after all, are they not influenced even subconsciously by what they read or hear? I am not in any way suggesting that this was what happened in Ched’s case. Another side of the coin is that in some countries there is a likelihood that people in influential positions and those they are connected to can easily get away with things of this nature. The role of the media in such situations would be to create a public, even global awareness of this case. It is much harder to get away with this when the whole world is scrutinising.
Let’s cut the crap:
The media is largely selective of who they put on blast, and that has to change. That soert of mentality is what allows individuals such as Jimmy Saville to never be brought to book. It’s time for change