Rape and the Sword of Damocles

June 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

I’ve had a week of being shaky, teary and livid; sometimes all three at once.

I’ve written about rape before: about the horrors of Haiti, of Rwanda and other parts of the world where the act is used as a weapon of terror and subjugation on the masses. Despite mandates from international organisations. Despite the condemnation of public figures. Despite the revulsion of decent men and women everywhere, rape is still the chosen manner of intimidation and control of a man over a woman or girl. Male rape, under reported but fortunately seemingly less prevalent, is equally as vile.

The perpetrator of child rape takes an already heinous crime to a whole different level. In Texas child rapists are always prosecuted – assuming the rapist is known – and statistics show that mostly to be the case. It is a matter of when. Waiting becomes part of the trauma. Waiting for pregnancy and STD results; waiting for rape kit tests to be processed can take years; waiting to relive the event through the retelling for the courts is a sword of Damocles hovering over the victim’s life.

Rape, as a subject is distasteful but as a conversation important: mothers worldwide stress the right to say ‘no’ when talking to daughters about sex. Boys are taught to respect the word ‘no’. But how does a child say no, scream, kick or run away when they can’t believe what is happening to them, particularly if it is a trusted person? How does a child stand up to threats? And a child, boy or girl, is anyone below the age of consent.

A small town north of Houston has been recently sullied by the rape of a girl, eleven years of age, by 17 young men and boys, with the number growing to possibly 28. It is a sordid tale of a child, loved within her family though maybe a little adrift but a child nonetheless, whose life has been marked by wanton and repeated cruelty all in the name of gratification.

Nearer to home the rape of a friend’s daughter, intelligent and beautiful and still two years from the age of consent, has brought the issue into sharp focus and closer than ever thought possible. Such is the cocoon we wrap ourselves in, hoping nudges at the edge of our children’s lives will be gentle tugs, and never cruel.

The wickedness of rape takes away a fundamental hope and right of victims all over the world: true and caring love. How dare any youth or man of any age take that away? How dare any woman manipulate a child into rape? Because no child ever raped will ever be a kid again. Because no woman or man raped will every wholly expunge the violation.

Rape in the abstract is hard to comprehend. Rape for real is in every, and under any, circumstance unfathomable. There is no such thing as extenuating circumstances in rape, no matter how lawyers may portray a victim. All perpetrators of the crime must be brought to trial, whether in The Hague or in Houston, as should those who falsely accuse anyone of such a malevolent crime.

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