As I snuggle down with my Google Reader to get started on scanning blogs and news headlines, I happened to come across two NY Times articles on the topic of rape. I can’t gather my thoughts. If anything, I’m reminded of my pastor’s sermon on Judges 19 (will be uploaded soon)… Anyway, I still wanted to post this dose of reality; perhaps it will jerk you out of a media-induced reverie.
In Tripoli, Libya,* a Libyan woman, Eman al-Obeidy, struggles to get the story out about how she was raped by 15 of Qaddafi’s men. It is absolutely heartbreaking to read of the frenzy where security officials struggled to contain Obeidy and prevent the journalists from recording the details of her reported abuse.
“They say that we are all Libyans and we are one people…But look at what the Qaddafi men did to me.” She displayed a broad bruise on her face, a large scar on her upper thigh, several narrow and deep scratch marks lower on her leg, and marks from binding around her hands and feet.
She said she had been raped by 15 men. “I was tied up, and they defecated and urinated on me,” she said. “They violated my honor.”
She pleaded for friends she said were still in custody. “They are still there, they are still there,” she said. “As soon as I leave here, they are going to take me to jail.”
Yet at least she has the courage to speak out (a course that even women in America hesitate to take).
Heading almost directly east to New Delhi, India,** the article covers more of the general range of rape and abuse cases that occur in response to the rapidly changing culture.
The victims are almost invariably young, educated working women who are enjoying freedom unknown even a decade ago. The accused are almost always young high school dropouts from surrounding villages, where women who work outside the home are often seen as lacking in virtue and therefore deserving of harassment and even rape.
The article opens with a recent case, proceeds to give some statistics and other analyses concerning the rising rate of violent crime. I initially skimmed all this until I came across a more detailed description of the opening story. Basically, a senior police official, Vijay Kumar Singh, suspecting funny business when a man walked in to report a theft in an isolated area, pressed the man for more details.
[E]ventually the young man admitted taking his girlfriend to the secluded area so they could be alone, and that five men had beaten him and raped her.
Based on the description, the police quickly identified one attacker as a village tough named Tony from Raispur with whom the police had tangled before. When they picked [him] up… he was still drunk…“He was so shameless he narrated the whole thing without any sense of remorse,” he said. Tony later denied that he had raped the woman, according to the police report.
Tony had apparently assumed that the rape victim would not come forward because the shame would be too great.
Mr. Singh feared that he was right. “I realized from the beginning that the girl would not help us,” he said.
The police arrested the five young men and charged them with rape and robbery. They tried repeatedly to get the young woman to come forward. The city’s police chief sent her an e-mail asking her to cooperate and offering to protect her identity.
She sent a curt e-mail reply, the police said: “The police will not be able to restore my honor.”
The police approached her father, and he urged her to cooperate…But the next morning her brother found her trying to hang herself, Mr. Lal said. The police decided to stop pressing her to cooperate.
So, what do you do in cases like these? It was only three weeks ago when a brutal gang rape of an 11-year old took place in the States. And how many unreported cases are passing under our noses right now?
I remember in high school, whispering about so-and-so’s recent sexual exploits, feeling that hushed mixture of awe, disapproval and curiosity. Some of my friends had begun experimenting sexually as early as 7th or 8th grade. They appeared more confident and mentally superior back then; after all, they “knew” and “experienced” more than I had. Then, I remember 11th and 12th grade, different run-ins with those selfsame girls. I remember during a sleepover, one friend crying; her first boyfriend basically raped her. But she didn’t know it. We didn’t know it. I didn’t know it. By the grace of God, He kept me safe as I clumsily navigated my way through that blind maze of dark adolescence and blatant sin into His light, where He fulfills His promises to make me new, to cleanse and to cover.
For me, rape is an overwhelming topic. In the face of such sin, in this world where everyone does what is right in his own eyes, how can there be hope but in God alone? By myself, a 5’2″ girl, I can’t possibly do anything of eternal repute. Honestly, I can’t figure out how to end this post in a concise way. It’s just, I had to share these articles and my thoughts.
*Libyan Woman Struggles to Tell Media of Her Rape