Pay no Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain…

SexualAbuse2

Listening to an NPR story about the PBS Frontline documentary A Rape in the Fields, got me to thinking.  So much of the discussion about rape focuses on the victims.  With many social problems, we often focus on dealing with the aftermath of the crime, the “band-aid” fixes.  What would change if we focus our discussion on the perpetrators?

Sadly, at least one in four women in the U.S. are victims of sexual attacks.  We all know that people in positions of power sometimes take the opportunity to abuse that power.  So how can we focus on these situations?

Who are these men, determined to abuse vulnerable women?  Are these men living in isolation?  Are they able to hide this trait from their friends, their peers, their boss, their wives and family?  In this documentary, agricultural workers report knowing about the frequency of attacks, they even go on to call the farms “fields of panties.”  Can it be that all the workers know about this barbaric behavior, but other supervisors and people of authority have no idea that this abuse happens?

Who is letting these people get away with abusing women, or children?  First, we have to stop being dubbed by false impressions.  Jerry Sandusky, and some holy priests, hide behind a veil of charity and “good” intentions; and the Tim Curleys of the world are encouraging such behavior by intentionally hiding the truth of these relationships.  Might this complicity fuel the manic fetish, increasing the prevalence and intensity of abuse?  Given the facade of honest character that lets some people perform such heinous acts, shouldn’t we focus on these types of opportunities where perpetrators have unquestioned authority over others?

Maybe we are at the cusp of change, where the Tim Curleys and Gary Schultzes are also held responsible, and have as much to lose as the perpetrators.

Only a Man would say Abortion is not okay, even in cases of Rape

I can’t even imagine what it’s liked to be raped. Whether by stranger or someone I know, my life would be completely changed. To be controlled and violated in such a way would change how I look at people, what I think of men, and my view of life and freedom.

Then the possibility of that rape resulting in a child… I don’t have children. I haven’t decided that I will have children one day. Even if I did have children, the birth of that child and the responsibility of raising that child is a huge responsibility. Does Todd Aiken believe the father should also be responsible for child rearing? Would they share custody, or would he be required to provide child support? This whole arrangement is unthinkable to most women.

English: Lorraine 'Raine' Flores, Navy spouse,...

English: Lorraine ‘Raine’ Flores, Navy spouse, has snack time after school with her children, Gabriel, 6, and Liliana, 4 (far right), along with a neighbor’s daughter, Sydney Toliver, 6. Like many other military spouses, Flores had to make some child-rearing decisions on her own during deployments. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not surprised that some religious fanatics are trying to ban abortion, even in cases of rape. That’s because these MEN do not have to carry a child for 9 months, give birth to that child, and spend the rest of their LIVES caring for that child. They can have their fun and walk away, such as military personnel fighting in Vietnam and other wars. How many children are abandoned by their fathers around the world and in the US?

We don’t consider murder to be God’s will for the death of that person. How can we consider conception during rape as God’s will? I wonder, how these same fanatics view Capital Punishment and bombing our enemies. Where does God sanction killing for these reasons?

I can’t even imagine…

  • Article from Mother Jones on custody battles over children from rape.

Half the Sky Documentary – Inside view of mistreatment of women and girls worldwide

If you missed the documentary Half the Sky on the PBS show Independent Lens check the site to see if your local station will be airing it again.  Based on a book by two NYT journalists, the film documents 6 female actors/actresses in their immersion into the mistreatment of women and girls in developing countries, and the positive solutions for each problem.  Each in a different location, with extremely difficult yet uplifting stories and experiences.

  • Eva Mendes with the children in Sierra Leone

    Meg Ryan travels to Cambodia to see how young girls, as young as 3, are rescued from brothels and given new life of safety, encouragement, but most importantly Love.

  • Diane Lane travels to Somaliland to see how a local woman runs a hospital to treat women, in this country where women are considered dispensable, and sees the full effects of genital cutting.
  • Eva Mendes visits Sierra Leone to see the cultural acceptance of rape, and some of the consequences, reminding girls there how to limit a man’s power over her life experience.
  • America Ferrara sees first hand how children of prostitutes live and learn each day in India.
  • Gabrielle Union relates on a very personal to the young girls in Vietnam struggling to get an education when their families are not supportive of female advancement.  As a victim of rape herself, she used a focus on education to survive and move past the tragedy.
  • Olivia Wilde  goes to Kenya where they are trying to overcome poverty by getting more of the family finances into the women and mothers control.  “The men buy the soda, the women buy most of the milk for the children…  and buy the yogurt.”  Shop owner.

    Olivia Wilde

What is amazing in each location, is to see the individual women working tirelessly to improve the lives of other women in their countries.  “In the last half century alone, more women and girls have died as a result of gender discrimination than all the men who died in all the battles of the 20th century, and more girls were killed in any one decade than all of those who died in the genocides of last century.”  “This is not a problem that is unsolvable, that we have to invent something new.  It just takes political will.” Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of Half the Sky

In this documentary, we see individual women, many of them are past victims of these crimes, solving these problems and benefiting hundreds or thousands of women and girls.  I was amazed to see Cambodian girls, previously rescued from brothels where they were forced into prostitution and abused, now they are going into the community to teach men and women how to use condoms.

The US does have a hand in some of these repressions and abuse.  Sex Tours are sold here to visit these countries.  “What’s hard about being on the other side of the world, is that the problem seems so big.  It seams like changing one life isn’t enough, but it is.” America Ferrera  But the film and book do not give much detail on what US and Western influence has on these situations.  However, the book concludes with several ideas of how we can help further improvements, including very simple steps for people who cannot contribute much time or funding.  The easiest is simply micro-financing through programs such as Kiva which you can do online.  Nick and Sheryl are very critical of various solutions, pointing out where some programs are not as efficient as we would hope.

All of this is based on the revelations in the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.  The book goes into a lot more detail, and specific stories of female abuse.

“When you educate a girl, you educate a village.” Sheryl WuDunn  It’s common for people to think we need public policy and governmental regulations to make the change.  But history shows that is not enough.  Just as the civil rights movement needed a phase of protest and social outcry for change in the US, there has to be a cultural change and change of perception to compliment the regulations.

TED Talks by Sheryl WuDunn:  Our Century’s greatest injustice