In this continuing series, guest blogger Toria helps us consider rape culture and how to better “do justice” for women. Warning: May contain explicit images, language, and/or triggers.
For decades, the women in war-ravaged regions of the world have been a target for soldiers with a predilection for sexual violence. These rapes are most often done for fun, but it is also a way of controlling the women of these countries, never letting them “forget their place.”
In many cases, these women suffer injuries following the assaults. One common type, called a fistula, damages their reproductive organs as well as parts of the digestive system, and without going into much detail, it essentially makes it impossible to control what comes out of the body. As if suffering these injuries weren’t bad enough, these women are often shunned by their families and sent away so that they can no longer bring shame to their household by being “dirty.” Thankfully there are facilities that can help to repair the physical damage,but those can be hundreds of miles away from any given town or village, meaning that these women might be dealing with this condition, possibly along with a host of many others (including HIV/AIDS and STIs) for months, if not years.
Even for the women who aren’t physically injured after being assaulted, it isn’t uncommon for their husbands or fathers to send them away because they are “ruined.” There have even been cases of these women being killed as a way to redeem the family’s honor in some parts of the world. This is victim-blaming at its worst.
The interesting thing is that according to studies by the United Nations and women’s advocates groups, there are many wars and conflicts—like the one between Israel and Palestine, for instance—where rape plays almost no part. The peoples involved either choose to use rape as a method of control, or they choose to use other forms of violence. No violence is okay, and we all know that, but it makes a huge difference to remove sexual violence from a war zone. Organizations who choose to use sexual violence in times of war have been known to even attempt assassinations on doctors who help to heal women of injuries and illnesses caused by assaults and rape, which means putting more people in harm’s way than were already there.