According to a report commissioned by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in 2002, 42% of women have experienced some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime.
Despite this epidemic level of violence only 7.8% of women reported these experiences to Gardaí. This is even more horrifying when we consider that only 7% of reported rapes end in a conviction. Thisarises in the context of what has been deemed “rape culture”, a culture that trivialises rape and seeks to make survivors of sexual abuse responsible for the crimes perpetrated against them by questioning their mode of dressing, past sexual history, alcohol/drug consumption etc.
Rape, which is used systematically as a weapon of war, is not a result of sexual attraction/impulses. Rather it is the ultimate expression of power, supremacy and domination over a human being. This is seen both in the abuse systematically covered up by the Catholic Church hierarchy implemented by many priests in positions of power, and seen in the Jimmy Saville case whereby Saville, a friend of Thatcher and protected by the BBC institution abused vulnerable and marginalised children and young people for decades.
“Slutwalks” – protests against rape – are an incredible phenomena that have swept the world in recent years, illustrating that young women, and many young men are unwilling to accept a culture of victim blaming. This was taken to a whole new level after the explosion of the issue in Indian society in the light of the horrific gang rape and resultant death of a 23 year old female student in Delhi. There is a growing challenge to this vile and noxious rape culture.
But where does rape culture stem from? It can’t be hermetically sealed from the ideology of capitalism; that of individual responsibility where atomised families with male leadership and female subservience reinforce gender norms and sexual oppression.
By Aine Nic Liam & Laura Fitzgerald