Men can stop rape

Woman folding her hands c. iStock
Challenge the culture of violence against women

Men can stop rape is the name of an American organisation that addresses the male role in violence against women.  While the name’s provocative, I appreciate the responsibility it places on men.

The blame game

A horrifyingly common feature of the depiction of gender based violence, particularly sexual violence, is that the woman bears much, if not all, of the blame.  Often it’s implied, but at times it can be overt and unflinching.  Most of us know of rape trials where the woman’s behaviour, clothing and past sexual experiences have been exhibited as evidence convicting her of enticing the violence.  There are two pervasive myths at work here.  The first being that men cannot control, or be expected to control, their sexual desire.  The second is that sexual violence is rooted in sexual desire. 

In some of the main refugee nationalities there is no recognition of mutual consent, or more importantly, its absence in intercourse.  A consequence of this is that a woman who discloses to the local authorities that she has been raped may face punishment for adultery or pre-marital sex.  The level of shame experienced by survivors of rape, whatever the circumstances, is well documented.  How much greater must this shame be if in the eyes of the authorities the law - the police, the wider community, and at times even her own family, she is deemed guilty of a crime that carries severe punishment? 

The actions and behaviour of a man or men seems to invade and infect the woman’s persona. A women’s moral character is corrupted by his actions.  And so, she bears the duel burden of being both violated by the attack and brutal injustice.

Taking responsibility

Responsibility for men being violent to women must always rest with the men involved.  But there is a greater responsibility to recognise.  A good man is not just one who does not rape, but one who challenges the culture of violence against women in all its guises, not matter how subtle or how deeply ingrained. 

Men can stop rape.

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