Sunday, March 11, 2012

Honour Dishonoured

 For the past seven days I have been struggling with this one word. Never before have I experienced such emotions while researching a topic. I do not know where to begin. Nothing feels right except that perhaps I should let one of the rape victims speak first.

 “I was 20. The first time he raped me I was on my way to church. I was deeply religious then and invited him to join me at church every Sunday. I went over to his apartment which was next door to mine. When I got into his apartment he was in his living room typing some forgotten paper for some forgotten English class. All of his roommates had gone to church and he was the only one there. I said that I was on my way to church and that if he hurried he could go with me. This Sunday, however he seemed upset by something. Maybe it was the class that he was writing the paper for, maybe I was offending him by inviting him to church, I don’t know. All I knew at the time was that he was upset and that I felt the need to make him feel better. I didn’t want to leave him there feeling bad, especially since I would be gone to church for three plus hours. He didn’t like me going to church he said that I was trying to get away from him. I would often come home between classes if I had any time at all so I could see him or more so he could see me. This day he convinced me to skip church and spend the afternoon with him. We sat on his couch talking with some movie on in the background. I was wearing a pink sundress with a cardigan sweater. He started to kiss me and lay next to me on the couch and I was fine with this. He had made-out before and I enjoyed physical affection. By “made-out” I mean kissing and hugging no touching in private areas. He was trying to put his hand up my skirt and I kept telling him no and putting his hand on my back. He was very aware of my boundaries, I laid them out very clearly. But no matter how much I laid down the law he would always test my limits. This day was different he was far more aggressive and I was having a hard time keeping his hands where I was comfortable with them. I finally got up and told him that I was leaving. He promised to be good and I believed him. After I sat back down with him and we started kissing again it happened. He was being aggressive again but this time was different. Usually I could move his hands away and he would let me but this time he wouldn’t let me. After much resistance, he finally had his way with me. Seeing that, I just gave up. I thought “I’m not a virgin anymore what am I fighting for?” I just let him finish. I was so ashamed. It was all my fault. After that I lost all sense of self-worth. He started hitting me and calling me names and controlling my life and I just let him. I remember him saying things like “If you’d just relax and stop fighting it wouldn’t hurt so much” when he was forcing himself on me. I still blame myself and have told no one this story but I had to get it out there. I don’t know why I’m writing this I just know that if this story lived inside me for any longer it was going to destroy me from the inside.”

 I have edited out certain details from this account but you can find the missing words at .

 This is but one of the thousands of victim stories. Some cases got media attention while others didn’t. In some cases the victims got justice while in others they just ended their life. In some cases they got help from the society while in others they were condemned by the same society.

 Raping a woman is the ultimate way of violating her. No other punishment is as severe, as disgusting or as personal. If all of us know this, then why does it happen? What can be the possible motive? Is it done for sexual satisfaction? It must be hardly satisfying if your victim is constantly putting up a fight. Is there some kind of ecstasy in hurting a woman like that? Do the perpetrators realize the after-effects of their acts?

 In most of the instances, the victim just goes into denial. She shuts out a part of herself. She runs away from everything which might trigger any memory of her rape. She refuses to believe that it has happened to her. She doesn’t seek help from the society. She just thinks it is her fault. That somehow she asked for it. Rare is the woman who speaks out against it in her first breath. It is not easy reading their stories. Think of how they must have felt when they were subjected to it…

 Yet we live in a society which brushes all such issues under the carpet. What is worse, often the victim is held responsible. Why do we have such an ideology? Who put this crap into our heads? Why can we never empathize with the victim? There are way too many questions, the answers slow in coming. That doesn’t mean we stop looking for them. If we are a society who is proud of its moral values and culture, then we shouldn’t be afraid of critically examining ourselves once in a while. It is time we sat down and took that exam…