Rape is not new. It has been a fact of life since Bible times; a common theme throughout Greek and Roman Mythology. In Medieval England, it was the favorite past-time of Kings and Queens . While the prominent men of letters were debating affairs of law and land, they also held court over conflicting notions of what constituted chastity, personal property and identity. Men were raised and educated to believe they held a certain entitlement to women which perpetuated the spread of a ‘ rape culture ‘.
It is to be expected for rape to flourish during times of war. The exploitation and sexual violence visited upon women by Soviet soldiers during the second world war plus the horror of genocide in Rwanda in 1995 leave no doubt that this form of brutality is with us indefinitely.
Today rape is a threat, a fear at the back of almost every woman’s mind, regardless of age. Young boys are cautioned about over friendly coaches and affectionate priests. Young men are warned concerning middle-aged women on the prowl, cougars they call them. In England and Wales rape cases have jumped from 35+ thousand to 57+ thousand in four years. Founder of The Centre For Women’s Justice called the situation ‘ appalling ‘. Last year it was reported by a leading newspaper that prosecutors had been advised to take a proportion of ‘ weak cases out of the system ‘ to improve conviction rates. “
In Japan, activists have taken to the streets for the sixth time in protest over the outdated rape laws. Case in point: the releasing of a father who sexually assaulted his daughter from age 13-19. If she resisted he used violence and overwhelming force to get what he wanted. The case was causing an outrage among the growing number of human rights advocates. Japanese justice does not recognize sexual offences of the sort mentioned above as being crimes. The father was acquitted because the answer to the question of whether the daughter was capable of giving consent was or not was unclear. The proof of her resisting was deemed too weak.
Most people can overcome the ravages of rape and the terrors of trauma by accepting help to manage all the difficulties and setbacks that become the victims’ constant companions. It takes much time and effort but the residual feelings of helplessness, anxiety and sadness that are symptoms and not the reality can be overcome. Slowly, with patience,painful memories fade, the feelings of danger and impending doom disappear. The traumatied individual develops new coping skills, learns to be prepared for sudden flashbacks and tears, and in the end surrounds herself/himself with a strong dependable support system. Piecing together a shattered life is not easy, nor does it happen overnight. The future must be imagined, a positive attitude must take root and a lasting bond of trust with oneself needs to be formed. Then there can be love again, intimacy achieved, self-worth established.
Rape is not new. Neither is it the norm.