Although we're unfortunately far too used to tales of sexual violence in the news, recently three particularly horrifying cases have shaken the world and made people sit up and take notice.
The 23-Year-Old Girl in Delhi
The Delhi gang rape of a 23-year-old girl in December, resulting in her tragic death, saw men and women in Delhi take to the streets to protest. The protesters called for change and an end to a culture where women fear for their lives in a country where sexual harassment and violence is so common that a woman is raped every 20 minutes. Trials for such crimes in India often take years and the conviction rate is extremely low – in 2011 it was 26.4%. This case has proved different as all the men accused have been arrested and will be tried shortly, but not without a bit of victim blaming from the defendants' lawyer. The lawyer said the girl was “wholly responsible” for the attack, as she shouldn't have been out late at night, adding that “I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady”.
Unfortunately, this isn't an uncommon view in the country as women are discouraged from walking alone at night, and a police chief recently suggested they carry chilli powder to discourage attackers as opposed to addressing why men are committing these attacks in the first place. Victims of rape in India are often ostracised and considered tainted so therefore not seen as suitable for marriage, and this makes many women resistant to to come forward to report attacks. It's moving to see such a strong reaction in the face of such an awful incident, and hopefully this means things will change in the country for the better in terms of safety for women, confidence in the ability to come forwards and trials taking place much faster.
The High School Student in Ohio
In August, across the world in the small town of Steubenville, Ohio, a girl was drugged and her unconscious body was taken from party to party, where she was repeatedly raped by various members of a high school football team. They then urinated on her and left her on her parents' lawn. Even worse, the story was covered up as one of the star players of a football team was involved.
In fact, no one probably would have ever heard about the incident if it weren't for blogger Alexandria Goddard and an anonymous hacker who has published tweets and photos posted by the players that documented the night. This also included a truly disgusting video of one of the football team boasting about the attack and laughing about how the unconscious girl was “deader than OJ Simpson's wife”. Despite this, Gooddard was threatened with a defamation lawsuit by one football player and his parents.
Aside from the actual crime itself, what makes this horrific incident even worse is how the boys made light what they had done with awful jokes. The coach of the football team – whose house was one of those where the attack took place, and is said to have been involved in the cover up – implied the victim had made the story up, saying:
“The rape was just an excuse, I think. What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that?”
What has been revealed is a town full of corrupt, powerful figures that value football players (the town's money makers) more than a victim of a brutal attack. The anonymous hacker who collected the tweets, photos and videos is also sure from their investigation that there are other victims of the team, who charmingly dub themselves “the Rape Crew”, who haven't come forward.
Let's hope this truly shocking event will stop cover-ups such as this happening in the future, and also that all of the players involved are punished for the crimes committed.
The Horrific Legacy of Jimmy Savile
Lastly, the results of a long investigation into Jimmy Savile's alleged offences were revealed, in which 214 incidents were recorded over five decades, including 126 indecent acts involving both males and females. An eight-year-old boy was Savile's youngest victim.
What makes the case even worse is that Savile got away with so much for so long, as his victims were too scared to come forwards until his death - or did so while he was still alive and weren't believed - so he was never punished for his crimes while still alive.
The only good thing to come out of the incident is that apparently since Savile's crimes came to light many more people have been reporting rape and sexual abuse. We can only hope that this trend continues, and that never again will anyone be able to get away with such offences for so long due to their power.
These events all disturbingly highlight the rape culture we live in, all over the world; one that blames the victims of attacks and protects the perpetrators. They have proved it cannot – and indeed, must not – be ignored any longer.
Image via ramesh_lalwani's Flickr