Trivialising rape is another form of rapePosted: October 24, 2008
An excerpt from Christopher K. Knight:
News from the Sarawak rainforest: A Penan girl was gang raped while she was on her way to school; Penan girls gave birth to children fathered by their rapists; Penan girls drugged and raped; Penan girls treated like sex slaves; Penan girls fled into nearby woods when timber workers arrived in their village.
Some people may want to ask, “How long has this been going on?” Some other people instead want to clarify, “Is the story true?”
I only want to ask: Why don’t we question the suspect what he was doing with her in the bushes?
A few other people may want to ask complex and daunting questions: Where is the proof? Why we never heard of this before? Why the girl did not report it to us? Do we not suspect someone have put words in her mouth? Is this another attempt to shame Sarawak government and its leaders? Where is she now? If the story is true, why she is not coming forward to show us her vagina so we can smell out the man who has wronged her?
This is probably the reason why making report of rape is another form of rape. Given the traumas, she probably would not venture to retell the story of shame to just about anyone, not even to the police, other than her few confidants.
I doubt she will ever tell the story to anyone again. I can forgive her, especially now that the whole gang of people in Sarawak Government is acting like they, too, want to have a piece of her. We know her odds, don’t we, when the Sarawak leaders join the choir to dismiss the rape allegation. Iban Jabu anak Numpang, Kayan Lihan Jok, Kenyah Jacob Dungau Sagan… they are the defenders of the Penans. But they refused to believe her. All of them, they called her liar.
She is made wiser now, isn’t she? Next time she is raped or her daughter is raped the best thing to do is shut up. Do you think we can blame her entirely for her silence?
“Denying the rape ever taken place is a rapist’s job. Protecting self-image against the shame is a girl’s job. An honourable man admits his mistake and quickly remedies the mistake. When Sarawak leaders defended Sarawak’s good name and Sarawak’s pride, they unknowingly defended the rapists; they unknowingly told the Penan girls to come up with a complete DNA report next time she cries rape. They unknowingly were intimidating the victims instead of interrogating the suspects. Truth is compromised.” – James anak Bond in Sarawak Talk
This is NOT about men against women. It’s about our rights as human beings. Why is it when things like this happen, the victim is further victimised? Why are there no laws to protect these victims? Why do we behave so nonchalantly even when we hear of such news?
Do we not care simply because the Penans are located so far away?
Do we not care simply because we don’t know them?
Do we not care simply because we are not related to them?
How mistaken is the person who thinks like this. Our lives are all linked to one another. We cannot detach ourselves from what is happening to the Penans, and to other communities, even if we willed it. They are not only linked to us because we are all Malaysians. We are linked because we are humans.
How can we look on as their rights are being stripped? How can we look on as their lives are being ruined? How can we look on as they slowly lose their spirit and trust in us?
As little by little of their lives are being stripped away by rape and abuse, a little of us disappear as well. Because in our silence and unwillingness to step up to protect those who cannot protect themselves, we create in our minds a little memory that we never want to remember. We don’t want to remember that we didn’t do anything when we could. We don’t want to remember that we stayed silent when it mattered the most.
And as this happens more and more, sooner or later we become walking machines and robots that no longer feel, because it becomes too painful.
I don’t want to ask the perpetrators how they sleep at night.
I ask instead, how do WE sleep at night, knowing that these crimes are happening on our home soil, and yet we are doing nothing to stop them?