Saturday, May 25, 2024

Rape – From a Male Perspective

Immigration News

Khaama Press
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Rape from men point of view

Repugnant

Act

Punishable to the

Eternity

This paper aims to frame rape as a vicious cycle under formulation until it bites its bait and how rape remains any Excellent Society’s submerged subculture, where the good in the society subconsciously nurtures women as victims all their lives before they are actually victimized. To do so, this paper will look at action, reaction, mentalities, attitudes and actors that have not yet been fully identified and recognized in the rape encyclopedia. Since I come from Afghanistan, the focus of this paper will be the dominant culture in Afghanistan. However, it should NOT mean that the theories, notions, examples and analysis of this paper will be extraneous to other cultures and, hence, can be ignored. I hope that his paper will get its readers to generate a dialog about what I see as the unexplored rape territory and do not aim to get the stamp of approval for my ideas necessarily.

Rape as a Vicious Cycle:

Families are the first institution that subconsciously turns girls to potential rape victims if they raise them under either too many strict rules and make them timid and unstable individuals or give them unsupervised freedom at a very early age, which makes them go astray. Some strict families only allow their daughters to play with dolls and a few other toys, but never ensure that they enjoy enough playtime with other girls of their age and outside the realm of their homes. To such families, the outside world is always unsafe and mistrusted, so their daughters remain “home-grown products” all their lives. The only permissible places outside are their schools, universities, workplaces only if they are lucky enough.

Such families even determine the kind of toys that their daughters play. They buy the neutral and powerless toys such as dolls, music instruments and a few other things for their daughters and even instruct them that they should not play with toy- guns, tanks and so on and so forth as they are “boy-toys”, not “girl-toys”. Often when a brother and a sister get into a fight because the sister finds the toys of the brother more appealing, the parents (even mothers) corner their daughter and tell her that she should confine herself to “her own toys” as it is inappropriate or bad to play with boy-toys. Inappropriate and bad are two words that she is dictated at that age, but she never understands their meanings. Yet, she lives under the fear of these two words all her life. She even kills her hopes and wishes for the sake of their unwritten and unspoken inappropriateness and badness but never discerns what is so inappropriate and bad about so many things and dies under the burden of the taboo land unless she rebels. For the sake of this paper, I will call the girls who are raised by strict parents under the said context Sabza.

On the other hand, there are some families who overlook their responsibilities giving too much liberty to their daughters. Such families do not see their nonchalant attitude towards raising kids as freedom but as the course of nature that any kid takes to grow up. At times, such parents allow them and even ask them to play outside or with “the neighbors’ daughters” so that they don’t make noise or their homes messy. When such girls go out, they are at the mercy of the neighbors and the society, at large. They only have to report back when it is lunchtime and before it is too dark. If they report any incidence or rape or sexual abuse in the toddler-language, such parents trivialize their claims stating that they are too young to be subject to such treatments (Smith, 2004). This reminds me of the book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” in which the author argues that if people enjoy liberty and freedom without knowledge or appreciation of liberty or freedom, they will either abuse that freedom or let the opportunity slip away without taking advantage of it. For the sake of this paper, I will call the girls who are raised by lenient parents under the said context Tanya.

Skirt or pinafore, which is part of the school uniform for girls, not only sexually objectifies girls but also limits their movements as the parents and teachers warn them that both the skirt and pinafore can fly any time if they freely move and no one should see the clothes and their body parts under them. Why do the girls have to be different than boys at that very young age and what is the justification for dressing girls in a way that limits their movements, sitting positions and attracts pedophiles? Similarly, when a class activity or game is organized, mostly girls and boys perform them separately. This segregation of sexes sends eerie and vague messages to both boys and girls about their sexes and subconsciously nurtures a culture of inequality as the activities that boys perform are more fun and frolic and the girls’ activities are more sober. This is where the society practically assigns roles to boys and girls of today and men and women of tomorrow.

Due to her strict upbringing, Sabza never gets to talk to boys unless she has explicit approval of her parents. Sabza’s parents always tell her that girls who talk to boys unnecessarily are “bad” girls and the ones who ask for trouble. Therefore, Sabza always feels uncomfortable as soon as she is around boys and wants to leave the place immediately. Such conduct makes the boys uncomfortable too and they hate her for that. Sabza is curious about what goes on in boys’ life, but is too scared to even ask. The unspoken hatred from boys gradually turns to taunts and name-calling and makes her even more uncomfortable to be around boys. When Sabza makes a statement in the class, she gets ridiculed for even intelligent remarks. The boys initiate this negative culture and slowly other girls like Tanya, who have a better rapport among boys, jump in the bandwagon, too. The continuation of moral bashing by her parents and the hatred from boys undermines Sabza’s confidence level a great deal. Sabza mostly seeks refuge in tears when she gets bullied for being timid and shy. She has already become a social outcast among boys and finds solace among very few of her girl friends who sympathize with her. This is the stage of life where she only respects her parents’ strictness and only understands that dealing with boys at any levels is bad and taboo.

On the other hand, Tanya enjoys unrestricted and unnecessary freedom. She can literally do what she wants as that is how she has grown up. She is the complete opposite of Sabza and knows no restriction. At times, she even invades the private space of boys with little attention to what its aftermath might be. Because her parents have always underplayed sexual advances by boys and men in her world, she does not find the occasional (verbal and physical) sexual abuse unusual, nor does she protest against it. She sees the protest against sexual abuse or rape a more dishonorable act than being subjected to it. She loses the respect among girls and boys of her age. Even the boys who use her as sexual object do not respect her. Tanya only finds solace among the bad company of boys and girls who are like herself. Because the circle of her female friends is few, she tries to recruit other girls to lead a life like her so that she is not the odd one out. She abhors the likes of Sabza as they, at least, are respected. At first, Tanya befriends with Sabza and tries to influence her to embrace her lifestyle. Some Sabza’s do get influenced and become Tanya, but some don’t. When the latter happens, Tanya leaves no stone unturned in giving them their life’s hardest time and defaming them. In a way, Tanya tries to bring Sabza down to her notoriety level.

As Sabza’s body grows up more biologically, her parents become even stricter with her. They ask her to abide by another rulebook, which makes her grow even more timid. Some of the new rules are: walking to school and back like a horse that carries a cart and her eyes can only see the road ahead, not talking or responding to anything that she hears on the way as girls who look around and respond to things they are asked or hear is bad.

During all these rule settings, one thing that is permanently carved in Sabza’s mind is that she should never question any authority figure be it her parents, uncles, older brothers and sisters, teachers, school administrators, local religious leaders and so on and so forth as they are always right. Moreover, any punishment coming from these authorities is for her good and no matter how harsh the punishment is, it is because of the mistake she has made. Such mentality can easily be misused to take advantage of her. Her timidity can make her a very soft rape target. A teacher can blackmail to fail her in a test unless she sleeps with him, an older male cousin, her father’s friend or a local religious leader can volunteer to help her with her school subjects and rape her and then ask her not to report the incident to her parents as she will be in great trouble. This can happen repeatedly but she can neither defend herself nor ask someone else’s help to get out of the trap because she will be the one to blame as she shouldn’t have put herself in that situation to begin one. In one unreported instance in Afghanistan, a schoolgirl committed suicide after her teacher forced her to sleep with him to pass a test. After she realized what would happen if her parents had found out that she had lost her virginity, she decided to end her life.

Sabza is also susceptible to any boy or man that manages to penetrate any of the four tall and strong walls that Sabza has built around herself with love and care even if it is fake. It is very rare that such a thing should happen, but the only justification for such turn of event isbelongingness and safety. Sabza is only following her family’s rules but she is very lonely inside and wants to belong to someone and feel safe with. After all, she is a human being and her needs are no different than any other human being’s. A shrewd boy or man can win her heart and make her feel safe around him. It does not matter if that man is twice her age or has one million other problems because he is THE Superman/Spiderman who has come to her rescue. After this Superman/Spiderman enters her life, he becomes another authority figure or Sabza turns her to an authority figure by basically agreeing to whatever he demands of her. Her demands stretch from simple things to sexual favors, which Sabza cannot afford to satisfy as she has to remain virgin to get married. Other than that, she may have to perform any sexual activity in the book to keep her so-called man happy. Her sexual exploitation continues until the boy/man finally manages to deprive her of her virginity, her biggest self-esteem, uses her body for further sexual pleasure until he gets tired of her and throws her away. In all this time, the poor Sabza is under the impression that this boy or man will protect her forever.

Tanya, on the other hand, turns to a sexual object among the boys that she knows and is constantly used. Because having sex before marriage is a taboo in the societies that my paper focuses on, boys that know her want to exploit her sexually. Because she has experienced so many instances of sexual abuse without any repercussions, her refusal to have sex to the boys in her society is meaningless. Some boys rape her and some will trap her one way or another to have sex with her. Their justification is, “if she were a good girl, she wouldn’t have sex before marriage”. All in all, Tanya has the status of a semi-prostitute in her society. She enjoys some part of it as she can get things done with the rapport that she has, but fails to find a footing amongst the “respected” in the society.

If fate has been kind enough to her and she hasn’t been sexually exploited, some families want to marry Sabza off to their sons. Her quietness and shyness has at least one advantage. If the suitors are rich and influential and Sabza’s family approves of them, her fate is decided with no say from her in the decision-making process. If the suitors are kind, they will allow her to finish school. Otherwise, she will have to ditch school and get married, which in a way qualifies as sexual enslavement of her. To me, sexual enslavement is when you get married with little to no knowledge of marriage and do not know your partner but have to sleep with him or her. The boy whose family is asking for Sabza’s hand in marriage could be twice her age, but a man’s age is irrelevant. It is the age of the woman that matters. In my country, the mentality is that a woman should be younger than the man she is marrying as after childbearing, every woman gains weight and looks older.

Once Sabza is married, she plays the role of a janitor, caretaker, cook, sex-slave and incubator. Every morning Sabza will wake up before everyone else to clean the house, fix breakfast and cook lunch and dinner, care for her old father- and mother-in-law, put up with her husband’s emotional sewage when he comes at night after a hard and bad day, satisfy her husband’s sexual desires in case she is not in her menstruation period and raise the fetus for nine months in her belly apart from her other chores and then produce kids, preferably sons, after nine months. This cycle continues until her in-laws die and her kids grow up and look after her because she doesn’t have the time to do anything else.

If Sabza remains single, she will be able to finish school. She may go to university depending on her parents’ decision. Otherwise, she will remain in the four fences of her house and wait for her fate, which in this case means an acceptable suitor. If Sabza is lucky, she can go to the university under strict rules as now she is grown up and people will “badmouth” her if she does anything wrong. Because Sabza has always been ridiculed and bullied at school, she is too scared to share her ideas at the university no matter how intelligent and great her ideas are. She has to suppress her thoughts, ideas and perceptions and study like a machine for quizzes, tests and papers. Universities in my part of the world have rapscallion teachers and staff. If one of those individuals can take advantage of Sabza’s timidity, they will do so and ruin her life. Sabza may go through the scenario described in paragraph 8. X University, which is the main and renowned university of Afghanistan, has several teachers who first frame female students, then, fail them and ask for sexual favor to pass them. Because sometimes failing results in getting ousted from the university or not getting degree due to strong competition and bad rules in addition to bringing disrepute to the failing students and their families, some female students only see giving in to their teachers’ desires as the only option. I am not the only one who knows about the sexual harassment of students and even female staff at the X University. There are at least three organizations that have conducted studies on sexual harassment reports, but the President himself does not allow the release of such reports as he fears no one will send their women to universities or workplaces anymore.

If Tanya gets to the university and only has to sexually satisfy their teachers to pass, she will take that option with both hands. Why? So far, Tanya has been sexually exploited for other boys and men’s satisfaction. She has the chance to use sex for her own cause and as a power tool, so she will. After awhile, some teachers may assign her as their middle-woman to find and frame other female students for them. Once a male X University student told me that a law professor would usually pick the students that he wanted to sleep with. He had a middle-woman who was also a student. The middle-woman’s job was to talk to the very student and let her know of her two options: fail the course or sleep with the teacher. The rest depends on the student’s upbringing, fate and choice.

Conclusion

If girls like Sabza and Tanya make it to the work force, they will always find people who will want to take advantage of them. It is also girls like Sabza and Tanya who run away from their homes, too. While Sabza may run away because she cannot put up with the suffocation at home, school, university and workplace, Tanya may run away because she is fed up of getting sexually exploited everywhere and not enjoying the respect a woman in her society does. If they are lucky, they may end up running away with guys who may marry them. Or, they may end-up in jails or shelters or safe houses run by NGO’s. Otherwise, the only place that can give them refuge is brothels where they will be on-sale every night and end up giving birth to other Sabza’s and Tanya’s.

Where does it all start? For Tanya, it starts right when her parents ask her to play outside the house and do not watch over her while, for Sabza, it starts right when her parents strict her to nothing because everything is “bad” and “inappropriate”. Tanya enjoys unnecessary freedom while Sabza is deprived of the necessary freedom. Yet, they both are denied of the proper guidance and advice throughout their life. Sex education and sexual harassment knowledge is missing in Afghanistan. It is a taboo to talk about it and mothers in Afghanistan, in general, do not do a good job. While chastity is a great value, Afghan parents have to protect and guide their daughters when they have made a mistake or have been victimized. Being too strict without explanation silences kids and builds a wall of mistrust and fear between kids and parents while giving unsupervised freedom to kids deprives them of learning how to be responsible and disciplined in life. Too much freedom or no freedom both cause Tanya’s and Sabza’s to grow and remain potential victims at all times.

Isolation from a group only results in unnecessary fears and myths about a group. The biggest example is the Muslim world and how there are fears and myths about it because some people do not want to know about them and are happy to live in their bubble. Similarly, telling one’s daughter that boys are bad, so they have to stay away from them create myths and fears for them while proper dialog between boys and girls help them understand one another better. Parents like Sabza’s need to stop treating their daughters as rape victims and boys as wild and sexual predators while Tanya’s parents need to be aware of the kind of interaction that goes on between Tanya and boys. It is not necessary that every Sabza and Tanya go through every stage or even a single stage of the rape cycle described in this paper. However, there are Sabza’s and Tanya’s in Afghanistan that go through such vicious cycle and need help from their parents, society and government, in general, to put an end to their plight. It is primarily the responsibility of both the government and the civil society to address and surface these taboo issues to protect and safeguard the lives of innocent Sabza’s and Tanya’s. Sex-related crimes in Afghanistan are comprised of prostitution, rape and even consensual sex. However, Afghanistan has yet to adopt a comprehensive sexual harassment policy to protect women like Sabza and Tanya from the evils of the outside world, especially at the academic institutions and workplaces.

Nasrat Esmaty has a Master of Arts Degree in Poverty and Development from the Institute of Development Studies in the UK and an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences at San Joaquin Delta College. He has done gender courses as part of his undergraduate and post graduate degree and has worked for gender rights in several organizations. He can be reached at nasrat.esmaty@gmail.com.

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