April 8, 2013
April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month
What with the Steubenville news, I feel like awareness has actually been kind of high.
I thought I could just link up to the blogs I'd already written. About my own story, about the Chicago SlutWalk, about having daughters.
And then, I caught this story. About what's going on in Syria right now.
You probably know that Syria is in the midst of a bloody civil war. It's a nightmare- bombs and chemical weapons, hostages and war crimes. And nobody is exactly sure what's really happening. But there are some things that we can be sure ARE happening.
In a refugee camp in Jordan, some women are talking about the rapes they suffered in Syria. Rapes used as punishment against women who were perceived to be supporting the rebels. They tell stories of prisons where young women and girls were stripped, shackled to the walls, and raped repeatedly, day after day. For months. When visitors would come, other soldiers, they were offered the "use" of the girls chained to the walls.
Those women, they watched their sisters die, naked and chained and abused. For taking photographs of protesters, for knowing somebody, for being somebody's sister or daughter.
The worst part is that the survivors are as good as dead anyway. "Purity" is prized so highly, that if it is known that a woman has been raped, her family will turn their backs on her. It is more than a violation of her body, it is a total destruction of a life.
Sexual violence isn't just here, in our own back yard. We know it is, we know how pervasive the experiences are. But we can't close our eyes to the rest of the world. Turning our backs on other women, other girls, because those horrific crimes are half a world away... it implies our permission. It tells those women, "If we can't see your suffering, it doesn't matter."
It all matters.
If we accept that rape can be used as a weapon, at any time, we say that rape is acceptable.
Rape is not acceptable. Not here. Not there. Not now. Not ever.
It doesn't matter what you think you've told your sons. Tell them again. Be clear. Unless she says "yes," and she means it, unless there is enthusiastic consent, sex isn't what's happening. Use the word "rape." Young men all over the world readily confess to rape so long as that word isn't attached to their actions. Attach it. Let them know that rape is rape.
And then let them know that it's not just their job not to rape, it's their job to prevent rape. It's their job to stop their friends from harassing girls, from making jokes about rape, from pressuring girls into sex. That's also their responsibility.
Teach all your children that all human life is to be treated with dignity, that abusing another persons body, violating it, is a horrific crime. That it leaves scars that cannot be seen, and cannot be healed.
Be outraged. Be indignant. Be enraged.
Take the time to visit the RAINN website, learn about sexual violence.
Don't just be aware.
Go do something about it.
My posts on sexual violence:
Daughters and the Female Experience
It Wasn't My Fault
One in Three
Holding My Own Hand