A society is not only a social space where we live in. It also means a group of individuals that form the society of people who exist within a defined social space. Unfortunately, except in recent times that people like @AyodejiOsowobi, the brain behind Stand To #EndRape -- on twitter: @StandtoEndRape -- and other notable people and groups have fought fist and muscle against rape, average human reaction to rape victims has not helped in the fight at all. The least the society can do for survivors is to change her approach and reaction to rape cases. As a people we shouldn’t be judgmental, neither should we blame victims, instead we should care for them and fight the battle with them.
People, agencies and concerned individuals keep talking about the growing cases of rape in the society. I have listened to and read various reasons adduced to be the cause for the increased cases; from women’s indecent dressing to drunkenness and use of drugs in other cases. Then according to Express Tribune of September 20, 2013 in a published letter, I read the perception that suggests rapist rape because they perceive women as object of pleasure because women are seen in societies as sex and baby making machines, and another argument suggests men rape to make a point that they are powerful and to keep up dominance. I would say all of this reasons and more contribute to the high cases of rape, but one other cause that I think needs to be properly looked at is how rape victims are looked at in the society.
Stigmatization is one reason most cases are not reported and why several culprits go unpunished forever. I have heard comments like, ‘oh good for her, why would she dress like that’ I also heard a story of a mother who refused the father to report a rape case on their daughter to the police because of what she termed ‘public shame.’ Instead of condemning victims, we show we truly care, I am sure it won’t be difficult for them to report rape cases. Victim-blaming exonerate the perpetrators, sending them a clear signal of permission. Reports show that many people, who have been stigmatized feel as though they are transforming from a whole person to a tainted one -- feeling different and devalued. People knowing what has happened will label you and define your life by what has happened. Instead of living with this kind of experience, victim decides to just keep quiet and heal while culprit walk on the street instead of being in solitary.
On ESPN.com, Jeff MacGregor writes and I quote "Nothing will change until we make the reporting of rape easier and safer for victims. Until we de-stigmatize victims and stigmatize offenders", He further wrote "Nothing will change until we hold institutions and people completely accountable for what they do. Blaming the victim, unsubtle slut-shaming masquerading as advice" he concluded is bad.
I also read a testimony in a blog called women under siege and it reads; “After the man raped me, my family would not eat with me. They treated me like a dog and I had to eat alone.” It was a testimony of a Darfuri woman interviewed by Physicians for Human Rights for their 2009 report “Nowhere to Turn.” Another survivor also explained what happened to her in the blog when she returned home after her attack: “My brother said to me, ‘If you stay in my house, I’m going to shoot you.'”
Bruce Link and Jo Phelan in their theory propose that stigma exists when four specific components converge:
- Individuals differentiate and label human variations.
- Prevailing cultural beliefs tie those labeled to adverse attributes.
- Labeled people are placed in distinguished groups that serve to show a sense of disconnection between "us" and "them".
- Labeled people experience "status loss and discrimination" that leads to unequal circumstances.We cant continue to make victims uncomfortable to talk about their experiences, no. We need to make them trust the society to do the right thing at the right time. They need to trust our sense of judgement and responsibilities. This will help a lot in bringing offenders to book which I believe can cut down the rate of rape cases.