Stop victim blaming; it only perpetuates rape culture

Photograph: Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas/Pexels

The All Women’s Action Society (Awam) is appalled by the statement made by Mohd Norazizi, a Malay-language lecturer at MRSM, Baling during a video discussing rape where he blames survivors of rape, going so far as to paint them as errant children.

While Norazizi has since deleted the video and issued an apology, the fact that he, in his capacity as teacher, influencer and opinion-maker felt comfortable victim blaming is indicative of the rape culture we live in.

What is rape culture?

Rape culture was first coined in the 1970s and refers to the normalisation of rape owing to social values and gender norms. Victim blaming which focuses on the survivor’s clothes, location, looks or makeup stems from the invisible social narratives that (1) only men have sexual desire, (2) men are unable to control their urges and (3) they are provoked to rape. When we unpack these hidden biases, we know these narratives are not based on fact because:

Men are also survivors of rape. This year, a security guard was charged with 23 counts of sex-related offences, including seven counts of physical sexual assault and six counts of using a 9 year-old boy in making child pornography. Another case in Kedah saw a boy being sodomised in a toilet in May

  • In 2019, an 85-year-old woman was raped in Malaysia
  • In 2018, a baby died after being raped, sodomised and abused
  • Perpetrators of rape within the last year include young children, gardeners, and family members. A few days ago, a man was arrested for raping his daughter and stepdaughter
  • Most perpetrator of rape are known to the survivors. In November 2019, police released statistics showing that in cases of child incest, the biggest category of perpetrators is the father (including stepfathers)
  • Women who are covered head to toe are also raped. In March, a 17-year-old received several rape threats online despite dressing conservatively simply for resembling a Korean celebrity

Firstly, rape is not about chastity. Rape is not about sex. Rape is certainly not about dress. Rape is the gross act of demeaning or commodifying a person by way of forced sexual intercourse without the other person’s explicit and enthusiastic consent. By perpetuating social ideas on victim blaming, effectively, we are indirectly enabling rape.

Rape culture is the main reason survivors do not feel safe when reporting rape or getting support from family or friends. It prevents individuals from experiencing healthy romantic and sexual relationships and maintaining a healthy psyche.

Survivors of rape have enough to deal with. The physical and psychological effects can translate into disgust of their physical body, self-harm, self-sabotage, self-hate, self-blame, and sometimes even deteriorating social and familial relationships. This does not include the effect on their personal and professional lives. Many often deal with the fear of intimacy, of contracting sexually transmitted infections, and getting pregnant.

It is time that we stop normalising rape culture and rape apologists – people who tend to trivialise the severity of rape by blaming it on the survivor or by disputing the need for consent – by rejecting victim blaming as a response to rape and holding perpetrators of rape accountable for their actions.

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