#MeToo - "Rape Culture" is Larger Than You Think
Updated: Nov 28, 2018
It’s been more than a year since Hollywood’s biggest names and most influential women began leaving the shadows and calling out rapists and abusers. However, this women’s rights movement entailed a much larger scenario than any of the victims and perpetrators could have ever imagined. All over the world, women began fighting for what’s theirs: for their consent and their legitimacy. All the way in Bollywood directors and producers are catching out different abusers and accepting women’s claims against these powerful men.
Still, many assaulters wander the streets and leave trial with no conviction for their crimes. In nine countries, a man can reclaim a women’s prerogative of rape by simply marrying her. In India and ten other countries, rape within marriage is perceived as legal. Above all, in America laws about rape and its victims are filled with loopholes that allow rapists to go untested with limited sentences. So many countries bend laws to facilitate culprits in dodging verdicts, and no matter how much women fight and fight against “rape culture”, the cases never seem to stop piling on judge’s desks.
Harder than winning a suit against an assailant is identifying abuse. So many situations can be overlooked as “love”, “care” and infinite other excuses women and men alike give themselves to differ from the cast-iron allegation of being a victim of rape. Even in the 21st Century, the word is seen as taboo and no matter how much “we” (as a society) try to act as if these issues are no longer present, it only ever becomes the most visible when it’s right in front of you. Sexual assault can take countless shapes and forms, but if you’re ever caught questioning yourself, think back to primary school’s ‘Golden Rules’. The definition of rape, given by the Oxford Dictionary is “forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will”. Therefore, rape is rather simplistically described as the overruling of a person’s consent.
Now, finding the line for what is consent and whether it requires physical aggression or not is a complicated trail to trudge. Hence, to remedy future doubts and hopefully shed some light to the St. Francis Post’s readers, below is a glossary of types of sexual violence and how we can work together to end this rampage against human rights.
Includes unwanted sexual advancements, request for sexual favours and use of language, verbal or physical means to attain sexual benefits in any environment, specifically the workplace and education centers. The harasser may or not have had a previous relationship with the victim. To denounce sexual harassment the victim or a witness can report it directly to the authorities at your job or school.
Is the repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other conduct directed at a specific person with the objective of generating fear. Differently, from sexual harassment, the Department of Justice defines stalking as a way to attain power and control over the victim. Stalking is a crime and it can be ruled by law, just talk to authorities and if the case is extreme, a restraining order might be placed to protect the plaintiff.
Similar to stalking, cyber-harassment seeks to place unwanted attention on a person without their consent. However, cyber-harassment occurs via social media. It is, in fact, one of the most common with young men and women during their adolescence. Request for explicit images in return for favours is cyber assault and even the leaking of these images is a serious offence.
Marital rape occurs within a marriage and either spouse can be a perpetrator. If either party is unwilling to perform a certain sexual activity and does not consent to it, it is perceived as rape even if the victim is in front of the law your husband or wife. This type of rape goes largely under-reported as women fear their husband’s reaction or even the loss of guardianship over their children. Therefore, task forces and laws, such as the Lei Maria da Penha, protect men and women within marriages from sexual assault and violence.
Quid Pro Quo
Simply put, coercion is an exchange of This for That. This is an illegal act where the harasser implicitly or explicitly makes sexual advances in exchange for something else. This usually occurs between different ranks of the workplace and is usually hard to report as the harasser is most likely the boss. However, several laws and regulations are put forth in companies to avoid such behaviour. Communicating directly to Human Resources and authorities is the best strategy to proceed.
A behaviour that can be verbal, non-verbal, visual, or physical that creates an uncomfortable, intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment whereas the victim feels unsafe. Be it direct or indirect contact, glances or even language. Hostile environment demeans the victim and undermines their value. Although the hostile environment is not legally justifiable, reporting it to other people can already help. If you ever witness a situation where a person is de-valued sexually in the work or learning environment, try to help and offer support.
Beyond the short definitions given above to such a complex issue, rape can be facilitated by drugs and other means. Consent is necessary ESPECIALLY if the victim is drunk, drugged or roofied. Abuse can be carried out by an acquaintance, friend, family, girl/boyfriend, spouse and boss. There are no limitations to the way other people can humiliate and degrade our self-worth. It is not something to be ashamed of and it is the silencing of victims that perpetuates rape culture.
If you ever feel unsafe or exposed, talk to someone. Use your voice it IS powerful! Don’t be silenced and don’t be afraid. Rape is serious. If need be, here is the number for a police force dedicated to helping women in Brazil: (11) 5084-2579.