Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Rape Epidemic

I often wonder if as a species we will be ok. There is a very telling line in Terminator 2: Judgement Day in which John Connor watches two kids argue over who shot who first, he comments, “We're not going to make it are we? It's in our nature to destroy ourselves.” I often find myself thinking of this when I look at the horrors we unleash upon each other in our day to day lives. For me, the greatest horror of all is rape, which betrays a fundamental and persistent misunderstanding of what it means to be human.

Rape is certainly the most heinous epidemic to tar the civilised world, reportedly there are an average of 200 rapes per day in the UK. This is a figure largely accepted by critics and proponents alike as it is compiled using both government statistics and analysis by crisis centres who take a closer look at the number of unreported rapes. This is a grotesque number, because whilst one rape is a devastation 80,000 is a full blown epidemic. A 6% conviction rate on the 5% of rapes which are actually reported amounts to a very small handful of women who may receive some form of closure and mental relief knowing that their attacker is behind bars.

So we have to ask ourselves; what is the problem here? Whilst there are many grey areas in sexual harassment and rape cases it is undeniable that an enormous problem exists. However, for the sexually sane amongst us we often make the grey area greyer. There is a level of plausible deniability that we find ourselves affording to friends when we know they might have been a bit heavy with a very drunk girl, but we must question where they draw a line and if it is before something quite acceptable becomes far more sinister and disturbing. The notion that if a girl goes home with a guy she is automatically up for it is a fallacy, a girl is never asking for it unless she is actually asking for it.

Because of these misguided attitudes and shocking statistics, I am more than certain that the majority of us will know someone, knowingly or unknowingly for our part, who has crossed a boundary that they shouldn't have crossed. For that very reason we all have a responsibility to the women in our lives, a collective responsibility and culpability to our sisters, wives, mothers and friends to educate one another.

Our society must question and then actively address why rape is seemingly taken so seriously and at the same time so vastly overlooked? Women have long spoken of a climate of distrust amongst the establishment when reporting rapes which is a culturally entrenched problem in the police. We all know that the police look at crime from a very alienated perspective, almost running mechanically through sets of pre-determined questions and forms. However, rape is not a crime, it is an attack on a fundamental aspect of personal mental security and physical space, an attack on the female body is an attack on our mothers, sisters and lovers. I really do implore all men to watch the below video and share it with as many people as possible whilst simultaneously attempting to fathom some form of empathy for what it must be like for any woman to go through such a harrowing mental and physical ordeal.

The Havens is attempting to change attitudes towards rape with their new campaign, 'Where is Your Line?', its aim is to make young men question where they 'draw the line' and to reassess where they consider themselves or others to be taking advantage.

The Havens offers care and support for both men and women who have experienced rape and other forms of sexual violence. They also compile and analyse statistics relating to sexual assaults.

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