Friday, July 12, 2013

The Sukma Rape & what it tells us

 On Sunday, the news spread like fire throughout the social media world and naturally made the front page of all major dailies on Monday morning - A 19-year-old official with the Federal Territory handball players team had been allegedly raped by three players at the Sukma Games Village in Universiti Putra Malaysia last week.

The issues that arose from this incident was - lax security at the games village, the fact that alcohol was smuggled in and that which has got everyone frothing at the mouth - the image of sports and the Sukma games has been tarnished.

These are all legitimate issues of course. But the bigger issue here is that what happened at the 
games village could have happened anywhere, because rape is a crime of opportunity, when the opportunity arises, the predators will strike.

Of course the organisers have to look at beefing up security and supervision at future games to ensure that something like this never happens again. But the issue here is that, those young men obviously have it in them to prey on a defenceless woman.

They might have done it before, they could do it again, these are the kind of men we have in society. These are the kind of boys raised to manhood by their parents, who become sportsman, lawyers, doctors, corporate personalities, white collar, blue collar - they have it in them to rape, and our daughters will never be safe, for when opportunity presents itself.....they will strike.

So what do we do? Keep telling our girls to be safe? But how safe can one be? To constantly have to look over your shoulder, what kind of life is that? Should there not be more quality to our existence. Should we not have the freedom to mix freely in society, have the freedom to wear what we want, to go where we want, just because we want to......? Why must we have to think ten steps ahead to make mental calculations with regards to our safety.

In commenting about the incident at the Sukma Games Village, some might blame it on alcohol, the fact that the victim was the only female in the group, and some might even say that she was not wise to go drinking with a bunch of guys.

In my opinion alcohol is just an excuse, if alcohol motivates a person to commit a crime, maybe we should ban it no?

With regards to the fact that the victim was the only female in the group, should we not be able to mix freely and equally. The victim and the alleged rapists are obviously not strangers to each other. They must have been on friendly terms to be able to socialise together.

Does this mean that we must all be wary of our men friends and colleagues? Because when the opportunity presents itself, they might pounce on us?

The Sukma incident to me speaks of a deeper rot in society, not just ours, but globally, across cultures and continents. No doubt in some societies it is worse than ours, but the fact that it exists is bad enough.

When young men behave badly, it is blamed on raging hormones. Do these hormones stop raging when they get older? I doubt it, any man who has it in him to violate a woman, will keep doing it. Even those who have been jailed for it, come out again and repeat the same crimes again and again.

Punishing rape

Deterrent jail sentences and whipping has not helped to curb sexual crimes against women. And lets not talk about the ordeal the victim has to go through from lodging a police report, to the medical examination right up to the lengthy trial process.

We need to look at the root of the 'R' word. Rape exist because of the notion of male superiority. Note the fact that I used the word 'notion'.

Across cultures, women are seen as the fairer sex, the weaker sex. Boys grow up seeing this, knowing this. While girls grow up knowing that they have to be careful. From a very young age this is drummed into us.

Boys as such, know from a very young age how limited girls are compared to them. They know they will always have more freedom than us. Naturally there are many commendable men out there who knowing this, always keep a watchful eye out for the women they know.

On the other side of the coin, there are men who are constantly out to prey on any unsuspecting woman. These are sexual predators, always sniffing out opportunities wherever it may exist.

Then there are the other types who might not necessarily prey on women, but view us as lesser creatures. These types are everywhere, the ones who leer, honk, whistle and catcall.

What makes these men show such blatant disrespect? The knowledge that they can, they are after all the stronger sex, the natural predators. You don't like it? What can you they think.

So you see boys grow up knowing that they have this edge. It is not uncommon to see a bunch of school boys whistling or catcalling women much older than them. You think that school kids would show some respect to an adult right? Ah but you see they are male, and the woman though much older is a mere female.

Those alleged Sukma rapists, they come from the same mould as boys in school uniforms who leer at and catcall adult women. When this kind of behaviour is not checked, this is what happens, somewhere along the line, some unsuspecting woman becomes a victim.

A change in mindset

Educate them. Parents you have a very crucial role to play here. Don't teach your sons that girls are different than them because girls can have babies, that they have different genitalia, that they are softer, weaker, need to be protected etc.

Boys need to know from a young age that though a girl might look physically different and be interested in different things, they are essentially the same. Looks different but is the same. Teach your sons that physical difference is just that. A mere outer appearance.

Educate them that girls will grow up to do the same things that they do, aspire to the same ideals etc. That both are equal.

Sexual curiosity starts from a young age - nip it in the bud. By that I don't mean you should tell your children that they are bad for being curious. The message should be, oh looks different but is the same. Might do things differently, but is the same, same, same.

In my time civic consciousness was taught through subjects like "Moral" - Be kind, courteous, compassionate. Why not teach the boys how they should treat girls. By that I don't mean opening doors. Teach them to treat women as their equals, not sexual objects. Tell them that sexual depravity has no place in society.

Girls should be taught too. Teach them how men should treat them. What is acceptable and what is not. Teach them to stand up for themselves. Tell them to be vocal and demand that they be treated with respect.

At home most girls are taught to be careful and not to speak out against sexual harassment because at the end of the day these males are stronger and might have it in them to take revenge. Keeping quiet has not made the situation any better.

In fact reticence is seen as timidity, these men are emboldened, their predatory ways never cease. They think it is their biological right.

Dear parents, teach your daughters to have courage and faith. Tell them that the world is their oyster, because it truly is. Do not limit your daughters, let them soar.

And to those who have sons, yours is a huge responsibility. The more sons you have, the bigger your responsibility. Teach them from their crib that women are their equal in ever way. Drum it into them that the notion of male superiority is only that, a notion.

Teach them that men who prey on women are worse than murderers, tell them that to do such, is a crime against humanity.

To the educators, whether in moral studies or religious studies, or a separate subject, educate both sexes on the ideal relationship dynamics that should exist between them.

I am praying for a truly equal 22nd century. Where "Sexual Predators" and "Rapists" become extinct like the dinosaurs. They once stomped this earth as monsters, but are no more and never will be.

A change in climate brought about the extinction of dinosaurs, let a change in mindset and the status quo bring about the extinction of the sexual predator.


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