Rape and sexual assault ... should be understood not just as a form of forced sex, they should also be understood as as a form of injury to the brain and body, and even as a variant of castration.
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Rape and sexual assault … should be understood not just as a form of forced sex, they should also be understood as as a form of injury to the brain and body, and even as a variant of castration.

-Naomi Wolf

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And there’s one other matter I must raise. The epidemic of domestic sexual violence that lacerates the soul of South Africa is mirrored in the pattern of grotesque raping in areas of outright conflict from Darfur to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in areas of contested electoral turbulence from Kenya to Zimbabwe. Inevitably, a certain percentage of the rapes transmits the AIDS virus. We don’t know how high that percentage is. We know only that women are subjected to the most dreadful double jeopardy.The point must also be made that there’s no such thing as the enjoyment of good health for women who live in constant fear of rape. Countless strong women survive the sexual assaults that occur in the millions every year, but every rape leaves a scar; no one ever fully heals.This business of discrimination against and oppression of women is the world’s most poisonous curse. Nowhere is it felt with greater catastrophic force than in the AIDS pandemic. This audience knows the statistics full well: you’ve chronicled them, you’ve measured them, the epidemiologists amongst you have disaggregated them. What has to happen, with one unified voice, is that the scientific community tells the political community that it must understand one incontrovertible fact of health: bringing an end to sexual violence is a vital component in bringing an end to AIDS.The brave groups of women who dare to speak up on the ground, in country after country, should not have to wage this fight in despairing and lonely isolation. They should hear the voices of scientific thunder. You understand the connections between violence against women and vulnerability to the virus. No one can challenge your understanding. Use it, I beg you, use it.

-Stephen Lewis

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SummaryThere is a small group of cases, initially treated as rape where there is no evidence of an assault: primarily where a third party makes the report and the victim subsequently denies; or where the victim suspects being assaulted while asleep, unconscious or affected by alcohol/drugs but the medical/forensic examination suggests no sex has taken place. How the police should designate such cases is problematic.- Eight per cent of reported cases in the sample were designated false by the police.- A higher proportion of cases designated false involved to 25-year-olds.- A greater degree of acquaintance between victim and perpetrator decreased the likelihood of cases being designated false.- Cases were most commonly designated false on the grounds of: the complainantadmitting it; retractions; evidential issues; and non co-operation by the complainant.- In a number of cases the police also cited mental health problems, previous allegations, use of alcohol/drugs and lack of CCTV evidence.- The pro formas and the interviews with police officers suggested inconsistencies in the complainant’s account could be interpreted as ‘lying’.- The authors’ analysis suggests that the designation of false allegations in a number of cases was uncertain according to Home Office counting rules, and if these were excluded, would reduce the proportion of false complaints to three per cent of reported cases.- This is considerably lower than the estimates of police officers interviewed."A gap or a chasm?: attrition in reported rape cases.

-Liz Kelly

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In 2011, actor Johnny Depp told the November issue of Vanity Fair that he felt participating in a photoshoot was akin to rape."Well, you just feel like you're being raped somehow. Raped . . . It feels like a kind of weird - just weird, man. But whenever you have a photo shoot or something like that, it's like - you just feel dumb. It's just so stupid," he said.Likening instances of being flustered or uneasy to the often life-shattering experience of rape has become a far too common comparison in modern lexicon.The phrase "Facebook rape" is perhaps the most widely used, which implies one person has posted on another person's Facebook account - usually something intended to embarrass the person.But the casual, flippant use of the term "rape" in instances that do not involve sexual violence is highly problematic in that it trivialises one of the most despicable invasions of a human being.Desensitising the masses to the term "rape" is just another way the conversation surrounding sexual assault is derailed or diluted in society.Rape is, and should be considered universally, as a serious societal sickness that occurs within the "toxic silence" that surrounds sexual assault as Tara Moss put so elegantly in her recent Q&A appearance.Further to that, the use of the term can be a trigger for rape survivors in that it may jolt terrifying memories of their own experience.According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, up to 57 per cent of rape survivors suffer post-traumatic stress disorder in their lifetime, with "triggers" including inflammatory words like rape causing deeply traumatic recollections.Beware desensitising the term "rape", Newcastle Herald, June 6, 2014

-Emma Elsworth

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The accounts of rape, wife beating, forced childbearing, medical butchering, sex-motivated murder, forced prostitution, physical mutilation, sadistic psychological abuse, and other commonplaces of female experience that are excavated from the past or given by contemporary survivors should leave the heart seared, the mind in anguish, the conscience in upheaval. But they do not. No matter how often these stories are told, with whatever clarity or eloquence, bitterness or sorrow, they might as well have been whispered in wind or written in sand: they disappear, as if they were nothing. The tellers and the stories are ignored or ridiculed, threatened back into silence or destroyed, and the experience of female suffering is buried in cultural invisibility and contempt… the very reality of abuse sustained by women, despite its overwhelming pervasiveness and constancy, is negated. It is negated in the transactions of everyday life, and it is negated in the history books, left out, and it is negated by those who claim to care about suffering but are blind to this suffering.The problem, simply stated, is that one must believe in the existence of the person in order to recognize the authenticity of her suffering. Neither men nor women believe in the existence of women as significant beings. It is impossible to remember as real the suffering of someone who by definition has no legitimate claim to dignity or freedom, someone who is in fact viewed as some thing, an object or an absence. And if a woman, an individual woman multiplied by billions, does not believe in her own discrete existence and therefore cannot credit the authenticity of her own suffering, she is erased, canceled out, and the meaning of her life, whatever it is, whatever it might have been, is lost. This loss cannot be calculated or comprehended. It is vast and awful, and nothing will ever make up for it.

-Andrea Dworkin

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