Looking from the outside in - people, place and practice

Friday, January 11, 2013

Why are we still being raped?

In light of the recent New Delhi bus rape in India and the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, it seems only fitting to delve into the ‘why’ of it all. Of course, there can never be a good enough answer to satisfy us.

In these cases, I think it is the dehumanization of the female body that shocks, angers and saddens us.

Let’s review the two cases:

Case 1: A 23-year-old medical student, Jyoti Singh Pandey, dies two weeks after being savagely attacked and raped by six men. All while on a moving bus in New Delhi.

Case 2: A 16-year-old girl is urinated on and raped by football players from Steubenville, Ohio. This photo was shared by bystanders via social media platforms. It shows two of the accused players carrying the unconscious girl. This picture was snapped at one of the many parties they dragged her to during the night.

Patriarchy or an extreme form of  dehumanization?

Is this a sign that patriarchy is still alive and well – or rather that some of us have become more adept at dehumanizing people in this way? I think it is the latter. Patriarchy is still alive and well, yet patriarchy is not the main problem, even though it does play a part. For example, many women all over the world still do not get the same respect or rights that most men do. But let’s face it, not all chauvinists rape women.

Over time, though, we have become desensitized to murders, rapes, massacres and other violent acts. We are obviously influenced directly by the TV and the internet, where we have  easy access to graphic images of war and rape, and where we can glean all the grim details, for example, of how children were murdered recently in Connecticut in the US.

As we continue to be part of this culture of violence, we start to become immune, in a sense, to the ‘humanness’ of victims, viewing them as mere fictitious characters or actors. Acts of violence such as rape are thus becoming more common and savage as people start to distance themselves in this way.

Has rape thus become more an issue of dehumanized game-play - where rapists view themselves as characters playing a violent game where they regard their victim as a helpless subhuman non-person who they can easily dominate?

Let us know what you think…


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