The Oscar Pistorius Effect

Last week Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for the 2013 shooting death of his then-girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp.

However, he will most likely only be serving 10 months of this sentence in prison, while the rest of the time will be under house arrest.

Am I the only one that think’s Oscar Pistorius’ punishment is absolutely ridiculous in it’s leniency and not at all representative of the crime he committed?

Columnist Allison Pearson in her article “Another black day for Reeva Steenkamp and all women” hit the nail on the head when she said that ‘Oscar will do the sort of stint in prison you give to a petty thief, not someone who has stolen a young woman’s life from her.”

“So now at least we know. We know what a woman’s life is worth….for this casual monstrosity, Oscar Pistorius was handed a five-year term, of which he will serve only one sixth in jail. After that, he will be under house arrest and will be free to see family and friends, to feel the sun on his face, to make love to another blonde.”

“For Oscar the bereft, Oscar the remorseful, Oscar who was so distressed about losing his soul-mate that he had trouble getting his facts straight, is said to have started a relationship with another model. Well, fancy that.”

Pistorius was “jealous and insecure”. In a text message, Reeva had told her boyfriend: “I am scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me.”

Can you imagine if Reeva was the one that was jealous and insecure? It would be a different story. It seems like if you’re a woman and you’re jealous and insecure you’re deemed by your partner as ‘crazy’.  If you’re woman who is in a relationship with a jealous and insecure man… well there’s a greater likelihood of abuse or murder. (Yes I realise that’s a gross assumption… but I’m all kinds of angry at the moment)

It can be argued that in many ways Pistorius’ overt displays of emotional distress in court saved him from people seeing what he truly was – a perpetrator of sexual violence. If the roles were reversed, this would have been what doomed Reeva to a harsher sentence in jail.

As Daily Life columnist Dan Hodges points out, “She was a woman. And he is a man. So she is dead. And this time next year, Oscar Pistorius will be free.”

This case is not just an example of the completely warped sentencing for abusers but is also a reflection of the issues surrounding domestic violence and perceptions of such violence.

In the same 20-month window since Reeva Steenkamp was killed, an estimated 2361 women in South Africa (where Steenkamp lived) have been killed by their partners. That’s about 27 women every week. Or almost 4 women a day.

While responsibility lies with the perpetrator, at least some of these deaths could be prevented if more of us spoke up when we suspect domestic violence.

But why don’t we?

In some homes and communities domestic violence is normalised and it may be considered futile to intervene. People often take the it’s ‘none of my business’ approach for fear of revenge, uncertainty or a lack of confidence in the police system – supported by the utter incompetence of many courts to give justice to victims.

The more we talk about domestic violence, the more we educate everyone on the circumstances of abuse, the more we combat the ignorance and injustice that plagues conversations surround abuse and assault.

Let’s not turn a blind eye. Let’s make sure Reeva Steenkamp and all the victims of domestic violence do not die or suffer for nothing. Let’s change the conversation.

“As we mourn for Reeva Steenkamp, and all those others who have died at the hands of partners, it’s vital that we see the bigger picture. Because Reeva Steenkamp may have died alone. But her death does not stand in isolation.”

What do you think of Pistorius’ sentence?

 

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Important Invention of the Week: Callisto

Callisto is a the third-party sexual assault reporting system that was designed to be used for universities and colleges.

But what makes it so great? It was created with the input of rape survivors and student activists. It was developed after more than a year of collecting feedback from sexual assault survivors.

Callisto allows a victim to file an incident report online, to “receive a clear explanation of their reporting options, and then either directly submit the report to their chosen authority or save it as a time-stamped record.”

The system was designed by nonprofit Sexual Health Innovations who have set up a Crowdrise fundraising page to get the Callisto up and running. The project has currently made over $20,000. However, organisers say they need to raise as much as $200,000  to staff and run it adequately.

The Callisto system is designed to maintain privacy and to prevent false reports by allowing victims to choose to have their perpetrator reported to authorities immediately if they had been reported by another user.

The victim would also receive a notification in the event that an additional report is made. But no other individuals or administrators would have access to the database to see whether any single person is listed as either an assailant or victim. 

“We want to be clear: This is by survivors, for survivors and us understanding and having empathy for the trauma that survivors go through after a sexual assault and just how scary the reporting process is,” said Founder and Executive Director of Sexual Health Innovations Jessica Ladd.

“We want to make it very clear to survivors they control who it’s reported to and when,” Ladd said.

I think this is a really awesome move towards in encouraging survivors to report if they’re originally afraid or hesitant of reporting their sexual assault.

Learn more about Callisto here: http://projectcallisto.org/#about

What do you guys think about this system? Will it help?

Angry Rant Sunday: Reddit’s Disgusting New Pro-Rape Message Board

 

It’s time for angry rant Sunday.

I’d like to thank the author of a Reddit ‘pro-rape’ message board entitled “The Philosophy of Rape” for turning a lovely Sunday into a pile of poop.

This message board was set up two weeks ago and the creator has posted a disgusting welcome post which essentially explains that rape has a “very important function in mitigating female behaviour and keeping it in check.”

But oh no, it doesn’t just stop there.

Messages go on to compare women to children with “absolutely no boundaries and no discipline” to targeting “selfie taking, filthy, unmitigated, sluts” before suggesting it is “for the good of society these women need to be raped.”

And what’s easily the most horrifying sentence in the history of ever, “It’s not only morally justifiable to rape such a woman, it’s brave.”

Trust me, it gets worse.

The board even claims to be the place that will teach you how to do it safely. That’s right, there’s such a thing as ‘safe rape’….‘Rape boldly, rape bravely, But when you do it, rape safely!’ and ‘Study reveals female rape victims enjoyed the experience.’

WHAT EVEN IS THAT? THAT IS NOT A THING.

I’m just… I’m baffled.

Fortunately, the majority of those who have joined the message board did  with the best intentions, to shut the board down. One member even claimed they reported the board to the FBI.

Thank heavens there are still sensible people in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this message board is really an example of rape culture at it’s finest.

What on earth possesses someone to think that RAPING SOMEONE is BENEFICIAL to society. It makes me so mad that there are people out there like this that think this is perfectly okay, and have reasoned in their heads that this is a good thing to do.

It just sickens me!

What do you think of this horrifying message board?

 

It’s Not Just Women: The ongoing struggle of male sexual assault victims.

Most of the discussion around victim blaming is heavily focused on women. I myself am guilty of focusing 90% of my attention towards women with regards to sexual assault and rape culture.  However, it is important to understand that men are also victims of sexual assault and harassment and are even less willing to report their assaults because of their fear of humiliation and shame.

Did you know that:

  • 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual victimization in their lives.
  • 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.

More than half of military sexual assault victims in the United States are men. According to the Pentagon, thirty-eight military men are sexually assaulted every single day and very few survivors speak out or report their assault.

Why? For fear they’d lose their job, be persecuted against by their peers or simply no-one would believe them.

In a recent GQ article, one survivor admitted to feeling responsibility for his attack, claiming he believed he was responsible because he could have stopped it.

“I still don’t believe I didn’t bring this on. I keep telling myself, If only I hadn’t had a few beers that night. If only I hadn’t invited him back to my room. I tried to resist. He was just so f******g strong,” Jones said. 

It’s these kind of internal thoughts that survivors suffer with after their attack that are repeatedly perpetuated not only by the stigma surrounding the reporting of the assault and how little the military actually do for survivors of assault, but also the consequences on career and personal life that are just too much of a toll on the victim.

Recent studies show that military men are assaulted more than women with nearly 14,000 cases of male sexual assault in 2012 alone. And what makes this situation even more horrifying is that prior to the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” by U.S. President Obama in 2011, male-on-male-rape victims could actually be discharged for having engaged in homosexual conduct. While these actions are no longer undertaken, the damage has already been done and the numbers show that men are still afraid to report being sexually assaulted.

As the GQ article explains: “An overpowering shame prevents many enlisted men from reporting an assault—a sense that they must somehow be complicit in what has happened to them. Straight men often question their own sexual orientation, while gay men may struggle to find intimacy in relationships because they don’t trust other men (or their own judgment). Telling the secret ruptures families and friendships. So does not telling.”

It’s also a case of the military shoving these issues aside and simply not willing to deal with them. In the article one soldier admits that upon his examination from a doctor after he mentioned his sexual assault, the doctor said to him, “Son, men don’t get raped.”

It’s this blatant ignorance of the issue regarding male sexual assault and sexual assault as a whole in the military that perpetuates this notion of silence where the victim is too afraid to speak out, giving power to the perpetrator and shedding all responsibility from the rapist.

Under no stretch of the imagination is this okay. The military needs to be more proactive in their stance against rape and actively enforce harsh penalties for the perpetrator, NOT the victim.

However, the responsibility does not solely lie in the hands of the military system. People need to be educated about the seriousness of male rape and how prevalent in our society it really is.

We need to teach consent and reiterate that in no way does another person have a right to violate a person’s body or mind without their consent.

For more information visit: http://www.gq.com/long-form/male-military-rape

What do you think about this issue?

Do you think enough is being done to educated people about male sexual assault?

Victim-blaming: the betrayal of trust and erosion of justice

Victim-blaming: the betrayal of trust and erosion of justice.

The Problem With Stranger Danger

Did you know that 84 percent of rapes are executed by someone the victim knows?

84 percent.. That means the majority of those who are raped have been done so by a friend, partner, colleague…someone they trust and love.

With only 16 percent of rapes being committed by strangers why do mostly hear about stranger rape?

Is it because we’ve become too desensitised to rape committed by a partner? Or is it the shock factor of ‘stranger rape’ that is more frightening?

Unfortunately, stranger rape in today’s society is far more likely to be seen as the primary type of sexual violence attributed to the perception of rape and sexual assault. With the responsibility partly on our media’s shoulders for the way they report and represent such crimes. The “rapist” narrative perpetuates misconceptions that all sexual assault involves extreme physical force and is mostly committed by strangers unknown to the victim.

Both myths are untrue. And the statistics prove it.

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
  • 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.

Perpetrators are more likely to target people they know because they know they’re less likely to be reported. And often this is the case. By deliberately refusing to acknowledge or be educated on the realities of rape, by ignoring rape survivors testimonies or belittling their experiences, we’re excusing the act of rape and letting bad people get away with horrific crimes.

If we continue to perpetuate these myths, individuals fail to correctly interpret incidents they observe, with research indicating many young people do not recognise what sexual assault and harassment looks like. And if they don’t recognise what sexual assault really is, how can they stop it if they see it or encounter it?

I recently read a  thought-provoking essay written by Tom Meagher, whose wife was the victim of an utterly horrifying rape and murder in Melbourne, Australia that made headlines in late 2012.

Tom has written a brilliant and brutally honest essay about ‘The Monster Myth’ in rape cases, reminding people that his wife’s rape was a rarity and that most rapists are known and trusted by the victim. I definitely recommend giving it a read, it’s really quite interesting and presents a bleak view of rape culture and consequences for perpetuating such myths.

What are your thoughts on the ‘Monster Myth’? Why do you think we’re so quick to report stranger rape, but less likely to believe someone we know and trust is capable of such a crime?

Read Tom’s essay here: http://whiteribbonblog.com/2014/04/17/the-danger-of-the-monster-myth/