A young woman was brutally gang-raped at the University of Virginia. What happened next is even alarming.
Over a month ago, Rolling Stone published a terrifying investigation of the rape of a student at the University of Virginia, in the US. The rape itself was shocking; the university’s response, unforgivable.
Jackie was 19 and in her first year at UVA when she went on a date with a frat brother named Drew. He took her to a party at his frat house. He took her upstairs soon after they arrived,where he and seven other men took turns raping her for the next three hours. They pushed her into a glass coffee table.They punched her in the face. When one man hesitated to join the rape, the others encouraged him to defile Jackie with a beer bottle. He did.
That Jackie was raped by eight men is a shocking crime. To feel so entitled to someone else’s body that you abuse it, take it for your own and violate it seems totally unbelievable. It should be unbelievable.
And yet, sadly, it is not. Rolling Stone reports that as many as one in five women will be raped during their time at UVA. One in five.
But what happened next is more shocking, and in some ways, the greater crime. All but one of Jackie’s friends encouraged her to keep quiet. Speaking up about a beloved frat house would “ruin her reputation” and become “a shitshow.” So she stayed quiet, not knowing how to proceed.
But when she called her mother, begging for help after purchasing a rope with which she intended to hang herself, she urged her to speak to the dean. The dean presented three options. Jackie could file a criminal complaint with police, or she could keep the matter within the school, and either be judged by a jury of her peers and teachers, or have an “informal resolution” with her attackers, where she would explain to them how the crime made her feel. That the two options that weren’t “going to the police” were given equal weight to reporting the crime presented as choices just as viable and helpful to Jackie and the community at large as pressing criminal charges – is totally unjust. Because though it may have been presented as a way
for Jackie to feel empowered in her decision,what “keeping the matter within the school” really does is protect her rapists.
I am constantly astounded when I hear that some people think that female inequality is a third-world problem. In first-world countries like Australia and the US, where Jackie’s gang-rape took place, men and women are equal. There are no more barriers. Women in first-world countries, the message seems to be, should think of themselves lucky to have laws in place to protect them from discrimination and rape and domestic violence.
It’s the women in third-world countries, the ones who aren't even allowed to drive, who need feminism. The real oppression doesn't happen here.
There are, indeed, laws that tell us that rape is criminal, that rapists will be punished. But there is also a sense, in some corners of society,that rape is something that can be dealt with, can be swept away. That’s not right. It’s not even close to right. And so for anyone who thinks that this has nothing to do with us, I’d encourage you to read Jackie’s story. She lives it every single day – the least we can do is try to understand.
Tags; Jackie,Drew, UVA,rolling stone, cosmopolitan,US, Australia,LAUREN SMELCHER SAMS
photo credit; shuttter shock.
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