Sparks are flying in India after the country was left in shock and disgust following the gang rape, brutal beating and subsequent death of a young Indian student.
Many are quick to criticize India and its so-called rape culture, yet they seem to forget that this mentality isn’t sedentary, it travels far and wide. It isn’t one country’s problem — it’s our problem as well.
Let’s take a look at North America. One in six American women and one in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
According to a 2004 Statistics Canada General Social Survey, only one in 10 women report sexual assault to the police. Why? The same survey states 58 per cent of women thought it wasn’t important enough.
Now tell me, what backwards society do we live in where a sexually assaulted female is conditioned to believe that what happened to her is “not important enough?”
I’ll answer my own question.
A society filled with victim blaming and slut-shaming from both genders that makes me cringe. A society filled with those who claim a woman is “asking for it” by the way she dresses. There is no way to invite rape because the opposite of rape is consent.
It’s where we see examples of children who become sexual offenders. According to an article published in The Telegraph last year, a slew of elementary school students were arrested in the United Kingdom for sexual assault and “suspected rape.”
It’s a culture desensitized to such a brutal act of power and control that we don’t even realize how pervasive it is. Where pornography glorifies rape, and the media portrays violence as sexy and sex as violent.
It’s a society where young women have to worry about walking home after supper, putting up with drivers slowing down to catcall and shout out profanities.
It’s a country where a Canadian woman is sexually assaulted every 17 minutes, according to the Justice Institute of British Columbia.
Julie Michaud, an administrative coordinator for the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy, believes that a real tolerance has blossomed towards people trivializing rape.
“The fact that rape and sexual assault are unfortunately much more common than they should be doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be seen as a big deal,” she said.
It isn’t just bad people who rape. We like to cast villains in life to make things simpler, but in most cases it’s the people we trust. While women are standing up, men also play a large role in making change.
“It’s not enough to be a guy that doesn’t sexually assault, they need to take an active role,” said Michaud.
I don’t want to raise my future children in such a small-minded and frankly dangerous culture. I want them to be open and free, and not worry about their innocence being stolen. We cannot put all the blame on our justice system for not being tough enough while we sit back and breed these characters.
So, don’t put up with the demeaning comments and remarks. Don’t encourage the trivialization of a severe issue. Don’t be so smug when criticizing other countries for their shortcomings. Promote respect and healthy relationships. Enough is enough.
The Gender Advocacy Centre is campaigning for a Sexual Assault Centre for victims of abuse. If interested in volunteering, visit www.centre2110.org