New research on attitudes towards the rape of women demonstrates a desperate need for a change in the way we view rapes. According to a June 19 article in Australia’s Herald Sun, “Almost one in five youths aged 12-24 think a female should not be able to claim she was sexually assaulted if she was drunk or drug-affected and leading people on. Almost one in six thinks that if a female is wearing provocative clothing she is “definitely looking for it” and same number thinks that pushing and shoving in a relationship is understandable in some circumstances.”
This new information is both depressing and not surprising. Searching “rape” on The Miami Student’s Web site unearths a sick wealth of rapes of women on and off-campus. I’m not an expert in the rapes of women, but it seems there may be a correlation between violence against women and the fact that many people are quick to blame women that have been raped.
Another recent survey reported by BBC news found statistics similar to those of the Australian research. An online survey of more than 1,000 Londoners found that “one third of the women felt that provocative dress or returning to the attacker’s house to have a drink makes a victim deserving of some blame for the rape. More than half of the women think certain rape victims should accept some responsibility for the violent attack they endured.”
Additional disturbing but all-too-real numbers revealed that “…nearly half have walked home alone on side streets. One in five survey participants reported having been so drunk they’d lost their memory, and the same number said they’d gotten into a cab without checking whether it was licensed. 40 percent of women and 20 percent of men reported having been in a situation that could have resulted in forced sex.”
What can Miami students do to help make sure they aren’t a part of the population that believes rape between a man and a woman can be the woman’s fault? How can we help make sure that ourselves and our friends, both male and female, get home safely?
If you do hear about a rape, never assume anything until all of the information that can help you understand the case is released to the public. If something hasn’t happened to you, it’s easy to jump to conclusions. Rapes are often very personal and very painful to the victims. It’s important to know that a rape happened, but try to put yourself in the victim’s place. Be compassionate, but also sympathetic. You wouldn’t want other people blabbing about you if you were raped.
Secondly, don’t joke about rape and don’t take it lightly. Even saying such seemingly harmless phrases like “That test raped me” or joking about things like rape whistles only perpetuates the stereotype that rapes are something to be laughed at. Thirdly, watch yourself and your friends. We’ve all been hearing this advice since we started college, but it’s one of the most important actions you can take against rape. If you don’t feel safe, be proactive and do something about it. You might prevent future violent actions because you spoke up. Lastly, if you have been the victim of rape, report it. According to an article by Amanda Seitz in this paper, rapes at Miami are reported very infrequently, but when they are reported, full action is taken by both Miami and the police.
By creating a community where rape crimes are taken very seriously, together we can help reverse these numbers and give rape victims the support they need.