WOW | Ed Page

Sexual Violence

What happens when you read about a women being violated, raped and killed. What happens when you learn that she was a young child – an infant or in her teens. Most probably you read or listen to the report in shock, anger and empathy. And then you either turn the page or switch channels. The story becomes a burnt memory pushed somewhere in the recesses of your mind.

Sexual violence is getting reported today. There was a time when it was rarely spoken about, forget reported. People would rather not talk about it than confront it, even in educated families.

My first story as a rookie journalist in my late teens was about a young girl aged about 6 or 7 who was raped by her grandfather in the heart of Kathmandu. The term incest had not been used in a report before. I knew already then that sexual violence was a taboo topic, rarely discussed and ever rarer reported.

A lot has changed today when we not only talk about and condemn sexual violence but also bring to light a woman’s right to her body whether we are deliberating about marital rape, molestation, sexual harassment at the workplace, abortion, women’s projection in the media, or teaching our kids about good touch – bad touch.

But when it comes to rape or sexual violence, we must understand that we need to also sensitize the authorities to respond adequately to allegations. Many women struggle with self doubt with questions of who will believe me, what if others find out, will they believe me if I have been drinking or seeing this guy or worse if he is family. The language of sexual assault also isn’t easy with words like vagina, anus, semen, penis being used out aloud.

The truth is that women have been sexualized over years and years of culture. We have lived in high tolerance of sexual violence and innuendos. Women have been conditioned to believe that they are helpless, that they do not have choice, that it is their duty to comply and that should they stand up for their rights, they are not real women.

Eve teasing, molestation, rape, violence are all real. And if you choose to be silent when it occurs, you are only allowing and subjecting more young girls and women to vulnerability.

No person – man or woman – deserves to be objectified or touched without consent.