Wanted to post this audio clip from an impromptu interview I was looped into on Friday, Dec. 28. A producer from BBC Radio reached out to me to talk with other anti-sexual violence advocates from around the globe on a program called World Have Your Say. It really was a quick turnaround from request to being live on air. I joined advocates from Ireland, Saudi Arabia, India, Canada and the US (one of whom I know from our work stateside) to talk about how women can better protect themselves from sexual violence.
The program selected the topic in response to the outrage in India and worldwide over the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman who was beaten with a metal rod and thrown out of a moving vehicle. She has since died due to massive organ failure and other internal injuries. So sickening.
My answer to the question was/is “Education First.” I feel and have come to realize through my training and learnings on this topic that people don’t even understand what rape is and how rapists work. Women who are by far the most victimized don’t even understand it – and worse – they buy into rape culture and actually help rapists continue to rape with their victim-blaming and ignorant attitudes. (See the case of the NYC Rape Cops where a woman juror penalized the victim for being drunk – and brought about an acquittal – even though the police assisting the victim wound up raping her in her own apartment.)
The clip I have pasted for you here is just a brief clip from the larger discussion and doesn’t even get to my follow-up point on how men should be invited into the conversation, of course, but really, we need women to understand the issue and band together.
Later on in the discussion, the advocate from Ireland (not reflected in this clip) agreed with me that change at the judicial level is a key component of “educating” people on what rape actually is and how/why it happens.
I never even got a chance to tackle the issue of women in India and other countries seeking to now carry guns to protect themselves from rape. I think that is a terrible idea for many reasons such as the fact Indian women are most assuredly being raped at much higher rates by men they know than ones they don’t (consistent worldwide with how rape happens) and that should be addressed first. Weapons can easily be turned against the person whether using it during the crime, or after, in how the courts view it. And for women to think their only means of protection is a weapon means they have totally surrendered to a culture of madness.
As an American, I am not even sure I should ever speak on what women in much more oppressive countries should do. I don’t live in the Congo where militia force sons to rape their own mothers under threat of death and where rape of women is a war tactic as common as one breathes air. Maybe women there should walk around with semiautomatic and magazines draped across their shoulders. What utter madness though to consider that as a viable solution.
Still, I was happy to be included in the discussion and to be reminded that I have so much more to learn. But also, I loved so much to be speaking with women all over the world and to see how singularly passionate and resolute we are on this issue. It was one of those moments I had a glimmer of a life that might await me in the future. A life more fully entrenched in advocacy than I am now.