Rape is ubiquitous

Dear Editor,

“In India a 23-year-old student takes a bus home from a movie and is gang-raped and assaulted so viciously that she dies two weeks later. In Liberia, West Africa, an aid group called More Than Me rescues a 10-year-old orphan who has been trading oral sex for clean water to survive. In Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players are accused of repeatedly raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl who was either drunk or rendered helpless by a date-rape drug and was apparently lugged like a sack of potatoes from party to party.

“Gender violence is one of the world’s most common human rights abuses. Women worldwide aged between 15 and 44 are more likely to die or be married because of male violence than from cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined. The World Health Organization has found that domestic and sexual violence affects 30 to 60 per cent of women in most countries. In South Africa a survey found that 37 per cent of men reported they had raped a woman. In others, rape is institutionalized as sex trafficking. Everywhere, rape often puts the victim on trial; in one poll 68 per cent of Indian judges said that ‘provocative attire’ amounts to ‘an invitation to rape.’ One obstacle is that violence against women tends to be invisible and thus not a priority.

“In Delhi, of the 635 rape cases reported in the first 11 months of last year, only one ended in a conviction. That creates an incentive for rapists to continue to rape.” (Nicholas Kristo, New York Times, January 12)

The excerpt above highlights that rape is ubiquitous. However the harsh reality is that conviction for rape appears to be a litmus test not only in Guyana but in India also. In the absence of punishment for the despicable crime of rape, societies are conditioned to accept it as men’s legitimate behaviour. That the term ‘legitimate rape’ was exposed recently in the US elections leaves much to be desired as woman and children continue to experience rape with impunity. Rape violates the human rights of women and children.

Rape is a woman’s worst nightmare and it is incumbent upon us as a society to arrest it because it is spreading like a cancer.  I wholly concur with the clarion call for the death penalty in the New Delhi rape case. The punishment must suit the crime.

Yours faithfully,
Nicole Cole
Women and Gender Equality
Rights of the Child Commission

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