Sunday, September 30, 2007

Why is violence her fault?

We often get asked why women stay in violent relationships, as if a woman's decision to stay with the person she loves somehow makes her responsible for all of the violence she has endured. David Cox at the Guardian poses the same question about rape:

Rape isn't the only crime that's unresponsive to law enforcement. We don't imagine that prosecuting drug dealers will solve the drugs problem. We urge their potential victims to "just say no". We advise that those receiving emails from Nigeria that promise large sums of money in return for smaller upfront payments should exercise caution.

When our houses are burgled, we're hardly more likely than rape victims to see the intruder end up behind bars. So what do we do? We fit locks to our doors and windows. We keep our valuables out of sight.

To suggest any comparable behaviour in the field of rape is considered outrageous. Yet, why shouldn't women be encouraged to think twice before visiting footballers' hotel rooms late at night? Why shouldn't they be advised that to get themselves into a drunken stupor in the company of a frisky male could carry risks? Whatever the polite classes may feel, a large proportion of the population continues to see sense in such admonitions.
With whom do you think the responsibility should lie? Is it her fault if she "puts herself" in a potentially unsafe situation? And what if a woman stays with her abusive partner? Does she then deserve the violence she faces?

1 comment:

Amber said...

I thought we were past this conversation. I mean, who really compares rape victims to people who buy drugs? If I hadn't read the article I would think it was a hoax.

Here are my 2 cents: I don't care if a woman walks naked through the streets of New York at 3am wearing a sign that says "I Sleep Around," if someone forces her to perform sexual acts to which she does not consent then she was raped and it wasn't her fault. I don't care if she has had sex with every person you know, or has had consensual sex with you many times before, every woman has the right to decide for herself when, how, with whom, and under what circumstances she will engage in sexual activity. There is no such thing as "implied consent." If she doesn't say yes, then the answer is no, and if she is forced to do it anyway then it isn't her fault and the person who forced her should be punished.