Rapists do not prey on women and girls skimpily dressed, rather on those they know

Dear Editor,

Contrary to the myth being perpetrated by Mr Moeen ul-Hack, Mr Roger Ally and whoever else, rapists do not prey on women who show cleavage and wear skimpy dresses; rather they prey on women and girls whom they know and are familiar with and who almost invariably are modestly dressed – in fact, almost three quarters of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. In effect, a rapist can be anyone — a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a neighbour, a brother, a son, a nephew, a boyfriend, a family friend. The media, biology and culture may be contributing factors, but the majority of men — those who are the product of the same biology, the same culture — don’t rape women.

Rapists are often very impulsive and generally act upon women who are most vulnerable; they are disconnected from reality and don’t think about what their victim goes through. “As you can imagine, committing that type of crime against another human being requires a tremendous amount of detachment, of dehumanizing that individual,” says Dr Ron Sanchez, a supervising psychologist at the Utah State Prison, who works with sex offenders.  Thus those who commit rapes are people who don’t feel that they are doing wrong and almost never display remorse. Instead, rapists are aggressive and have problems controlling their anger. They’re often sensitive to rejection and insecure about their own masculinity. They also have distorted views about women and sex.

Author of the book, The Darker Side of Man, biologist, Michael Ghiglieri. has stated that, “males use violence to control females and they do it very often and they control those females for sexual reasons.”  From his work with sex offenders, psychologist Dr C Y Roby has also seen “a lot of desire to dominate or control others. To a certain degree, I think it’s something that we’ve learned socially,” he says. “Males often grow up and realize that the way to get what they want is through aggressive means.” Roby sees several kinds of sex offenders: those, for whom sexual assault is an extension of rage; those who have a need to control or have power over their victims; and those who derive sexual pleasure out of inflicting pain on others.

Michael Kimmel is a sociologist at the State University of New York who has received international recognition for his work on men and masculinity. He says violent men often view their actions as revenge or retaliation. “They say, women have power over me because they’re beautiful and sexual and I want them and they elicit that and I feel powerless,” he says. “Just listen for a minute to the way in which we describe women’s beauty and sexuality. We describe it as a violence against us. She is a knock-out, a bomb-shell, dressed to kill, a femme fatale, stunning, ravishing. I mean all of these are words of violence against us. It’s like, wow, she knocked me out. So the violence then, or the aggression or the sexual violence is often a way to retaliate.

“Many of the rapists have what we call thinking errors or criminal thinking,” where they have a tendency to distort reality,” he says. “For instance, they might interpret the way she responds to them in a very friendly manner by saying ‘Hi,’ they might interpret that as that they’re interested in him, as having sex with him to be blunt.”

In effect, Mr ul-Hack, Ally and those who want to infer women’s dress mode as a causative factor for rape need to become familiar with the reasons men rape, for then they would realize that men never ever say that they rape because of the way the woman was dressed. They would also realise that regardless of what any scripture says, the outworn tactic of blaming the victim needs to be permanently relegated to the dustbin and replaced by calls for collective action to put an end to this scourge. And these calls must be accompanied by effective laws, and application of those laws to their fullest effect as well as a pervasive practice of the scriptural injunction that we’re all our brothers and sisters’ keepers.

Yours faithfully,
Annan Boodram

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