Sexual violence is one of the malicious and heinous acts which have critical consequences in the society. It is a deliberate action against an unwilling person either adult or minor of different genders. Rape is a broad subject which has no single explanation as many researchers have tried to explain it differently in the past. The studies about documented cases of rape and its effects on the victims have recently been researched in the world. Several theories have been formulated trying to explain the causes of rape and their impacts. These theories aim at sensitizing people in the society on how to prevent and curb the vice.
Rape awareness has been dominant in the communities due to prevailing rape cultures that have adverse effects on the society. This led to the rise of social movements, activism, and feminism that champion the rights of rape victims and oppose its implications in the community. Victims of sexual violence have always been neglected in the society. They are abused, disrespected and not believed despite undergoing sexual harassment. The movements have joined efforts to teach people on ways to end stigmatization of rape victims and treating them with dignity. This will assist them to start their new life peacefully.
Sexual violence has been documented in history books, religious texts, and mythology in the past. Rape is the common action during sexual harassment and has attracted a huge number of opinions and myths over several centuries. In Greek mythology in ancient Rome, rape of women has been a common theme. The Christian Empire in the past suggested that rapists are secretly encouraged by their victims because of not disclosing sexual acts when they arise. The Christian Empire further brought religious values and sexual integrity issues into the concept of rape. This significantly changed the attitude towards rape in various communities.
Historically, the rapists have been committing sexual acts as a weapon of war and to gain power and authority over their victims. Rape is believed to be more about power over the victims than sex. Men usually manipulate women sexually to remain in control and command them. However, rape in modern society has been more violent and is seen as a serious crime against humanity. The authorities have termed it as an invasive crime which violates the victims autonomy.
According to FBI reports, rape is defined as a penetration without consent. It is considered raping when sexual intercourse occurs without the full agreement of both parties. The consent is determined in several ways such as agreement of parties, the age of consent and capacity to agree to do sexual acts. In the United States, the particular states have set the minimum age required for one to engage in sexual activities. In most states, a person over 18 years is allowed to legally agree to have sex. Having sex with a minor below required age is a crime which attracts jail sentence and fine.
Before engaging in sexual activities, a person ability to consent must be considered. Common cases of mental disabilities, unconsciousness or influences of alcohol and drugs affect someones judgments, thus diminishing his/her capacity to consent. Both parties should be in their right state of mind when agreeing to have sex failure of which leads to rape cases. Cases of drunken women being gang raped have been reported in the past because of being unable to defend themselves. Alcohol and drug abuse constitutes largely to cases of rape in the society and largely goes unreported because of fear of victimization.
Agreement between both parties is another critical factor. The agreement is a determinant factor when analyzing rape cases. In case there was no agreement, the sexual act constitutes rape, but if they agreed to have sex, that does not result in rape. However, several cases of rape have been blamed on the victims actions. Rape victims are accused of aiding rape through improper dressing modes, lack of fight backs when being abused and exposing themselves when severely drunk. This complicates rape cases in courts when writing a fair judgment.
The culture of rape has hugely contributed to rising of sexual violence in the society. The society perceives women as sexual objects while men are seen to be powerful over women. Sexual violence can be stopped by first addressing the issue of patriarchy in the society. Every individual should discuss the rape topic specifically on its impacts to the community in efforts to solve it. Lessons about rape need to be taught at homes, schools, and institution of higher learning. This will ease the burden the victims bear instead the talks will be based upon the perpetrators of rape in the community.
Rape culture encourages victim blaming attitudes which lead to failure to report rape cases. People develop excuses after committing rape through blaming it on the victims, thus making it difficult to prosecute them. Approximately 70% of rape cases in the world go unreported to the responsible authorities. Rape victims are scared to report them because they fear societal stigma and shame. They also fear re-victimization which they likely to experience in the criminal justice system. The victims fear losing family members and friends if they report rape cases. This shows how rape culture is prevalent today because rape is still a topic which people fear to talk about in public.
Myths about rape aids rape culture because of false claims of how victims of rape are to be blamed for sexual harassment against them. The myths encourage feelings of guiltiness, dirtiness, and shame to people who have been raped. The common rape myth is that rape claims are false and rape rarely happens in the society. Others argue that women are responsible for being raped because of their behaviors, mode of dressing and looks. Moreover, other myths say that men should not be blamed for committing rape and no action will be done to reverse their actions.
These rape myths seem to encourage men to proceed with rape culture through supporting masculine privilege. People should discuss these myths in details and criticize and debunk them in the society because they are lies. The government, religious bodies, and human right activists should join hands to critically address these issues within the community. Men and women need to be taught through seminars and meetings on how to deal with rape culture when it arises. Proper communication channels should be adopted which will assist the victims to report rape cases without being victimized.
However, rape is not majorly caused by cultural factors alone. Rape is also caused by conscious decisions of a small percentage of individuals in the society who decide to commit a sexual crime. This understanding is fundamental when pointing out systematic barriers when solving rape culture in the community. Largely, cultural factors such as myths about rape and rape culture usually contribute to the way perpetrators of rape treat their victims. It glorifies their actions because of support from cultural beliefs and also discourages the victims from reporting the issue. However, violence also contributes largely to rape in the society because of the desire of men to exercise power over women. They use sexual harassment to diminish women in the society which is a criminal activity. This calls for empowerment especially to women because they have autonomy and capability to stop and condemn rape culture in their communities.
Several theories have been developed which encourages the myth that men are not responsible for their actions. The theories are misleading people because choosing to rape someone is a personal decision which is not forced by someone or situation. Some theories argue that rape occurs due to emotions, sexual pleasure and attitude towards the victims. This, however, is not true because it is difficult to determine the driving factor of rapists. These false theories need to be ignored because it misleads people thus not providing fair justice to raped victims in the society.
Rape causes psychological and physical trauma to rape victims. Physical force used by rapists causes injuries to the victims and in some cases leads to death. Cases of infections, bleeding, pregnancy and HIV/AIDS are some of the physical effects on the victims. Victims suffer from psychological problems by developing depression, anger, lack of empathy and lack of motivation to seek care. Victim blaming and stigmatization makes them afraid to report rape cases and thus affecting them mentally. Some rape victims decide to commit suicide instead of living with stress due to shame and denial from their close friends and family.
Policies and mechanisms of handling rape cases should be developed by national and local authorities. All the rape cases cannot be prevented, but a lot of rapes need to be addressed through improving how the society handles the rape cases. However, there is a spread of Rape Crisis Centers which has supported rape victims through giving required resources. Cooperation of people in the society to change rape culture is required. Communal discussions are necessary to create a better society which is objective and victim-supporting.
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