Friday, May 23, 2014

In Which I Write About Rape

Recently, a friend of mine told me the awful account of her two college-aged friends who were drugged and raped on campus last month. They were of age and at a bar with a crowd that moved to a house where someone handed them drinks (future note to daughters: don’t ever accept drinks late at night at parties in homes of people you don’t know). The next thing they knew they were half-aware in a bedroom with three men; details were foggy but they could hear each other’s objections. The rape kits at the emergency room filled in more of the story.

I know it happens—that women are raped. And yet every time I hear a story like this, my mind is blown. That someone, that two or three someones, could pre-meditatively plot this sort of evil and execute it so well here in my community sickens me. And it’s quiet. I’ve heard no newspaper stories. These women pressed charges but the perpetrators are still walking around. They run into them on the street. What else is quiet, I wonder? How many women walking the sidewalks on campus with the same story?

My husband says he gets alerts from the University whenever a sexual assault is reported. Last month he said it was like he was getting a new alert or two every week. Often the rough details are followed by the explanation that the victim has “chosen not to press charges.”

Rape at home leads me to think of the Nigerian girls, still missing. Brave girls--willing to risk their lives for an education--awakened in the middle of the night. The adrenaline surges they must have felt, the shaking, the sweating, the grabbing for a pair of shoes or an extra garment before they were caught in the fire. The confusion, then the clarity, then the fear.  Then the demand of “conversion.” Then, the demand of “marriage” (read: sex slavery) to members of the Boko Haram. Then, what we would have to assume: rape.

Rape as power. Rape as punishment. Rape as anger. Rape as weaponry. Rape as sport. Rape as entertainment. Rape as retaliation. Rape as war.

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