Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

University Rape 101

"It's the last thing that colleges and universities want to do is publish the fact that this happens. They don't want to be known as the 'rape school'."
"Every time we did an interview, we couldn't believe we were essentially hearing the same story over and over. Not only the assault and that people were targeted by predators, but also so often the way that the university or college responded."
"In the Q&As following the film [The Invisible War], students would start by talking about rape in the military but then would move very quickly to talking about rape on college campuses. We were kind of taken aback by this. We knew it was a problem, but we didn't know it was bubbling up like that. And then we started getting emails and letters from people saying, 'I was assaulted. Can you please make a film'."
"Sadly, it wasn't difficult to find survivors. The next step of deciding to come forward for many people was very difficult because the last time they came forward, they had been shut down."
"You have to look at the statistics. Only 2% to 8% of reported sexual assaults are false. So in most cases, when people come forward, they're telling the truth. The best way to respond to people when they're reporting a sexual assault is to believe them, because if you don't believe them, you're silencing them."
"I'm still shocked that this film had to be made in 2015. That it wasn't made one, two, three, four decades ago. When you talk to these survivors, sometimes they're 18, 19, they're just barely adults. And they have the courage to take on their institutions, to join with others and to create this national debate. But it shouldn't just be on students. To create a safe environment at colleges, that should be on everyone."
Kirby Dick, director, The Hunting Ground
The Myth of Preventing Rape
The public, reading about the mass rapes in Darfur, is horrified. But that's Sudan for you, where a murderously repressive Muslim government steeped in the culture of misogyny of the Koran sends out the Janjaweed to kill and rape. And what can you expect of an oppressive kingdom like that of Saudi Arabia where their brand of Islam mitigates against the very thought that women could ever venture out into public without being covered head-to-toe in stifling, black tents. Oh of course, count in Afghanistan and Pakistan while we're at it.

All right, Somalia too. And let's not forget India where women are stalked and preyed upon, not only women but girls particularly if they're low-caste; raped, tortured, murdered with impunity. Rape, actually, is used as a weapon of war as we've been advised time and again in explanations around mass rape taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo; not only by the insurgents of course, but by the DRC military. But then, look at how German women suffered when the Russian army moved in to Berlin after WWII.

In the West, it's different, right? In Western democracies dedicated to life and liberty and the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, predation of women won't occur because of the universal respect in which women are held in those societies who celebrate motherhood and apple pie. In our feverish imaginations, at any rate. Duke University in the U.S. stands out as a case in point. Where, when female students approach administrative services their complaints are overlooked, discarded, and the women silenced.

What Is Rape Culture?

Effectively institutionalizing rape, since there is no penalty for it, only the blind eye of indifference. When Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering put together their documentary The Invisible War, about the prevalence of rape in the American military, they never dreamed that what happens in the military happens also to a very similar degree in the colleges and universities of their country. And what occurs in the United States happens as well in Canada.

And doubtless in equal measure in all Western societies; little spoken of, our own wretched secret, spoken of in hushed tones of outrage on the one hand, shoulder-shrugging on the other. Where are all the mothers teaching their sons the basics of a societal convention where respect for others is not only customary but mandatory in a civil society? Are they the ones raising sons who witness their fathers actively abusing their mothers?

In their latest documentary on university/college rape culture, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering zero in on the anguish of young women and campus assaults. Of those young women approaching school authorities with trust, or campus police, and instead of being supported and the rapists apprehended and charged, the women are blamed, neglected and their stories shunted aside. Of course if there are no penalties the rapes simply continue; good fun!

The director/producer team posit there is a financial disincentive to the universities to pursuing the issue.

They interviewed 70 women on camera for their documentary, half the number they spoke with after the women had experienced sexual assault on various campuses. They spoke as well with university administrators, police officers, professional athletes and one man who had been a rapist, the only one of many they had approached for an interview. The result was a damning picture of entitlement, resignation and appalling disinterest.

What they discovered in their interviews and through the collection of an astonishing amount of evidence was the wholesale discrediting of the women coming forward to college administrators with their complaints. In the documentary, two principals, Andea Pino and Annie Clark are highlighted, two women who lodged a Title IX complaint against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013 for the manner in which they responded to sexual assault cases on campus.

"Our first shoot was with them. They had just filed their complaint, and were just starting to talk about it as a national problem. We thought, this is amazing, let's follow this. We thought they might file two or three more complaints; we didn't think they'd end up in the White House. I think it's one of the things that makes the film kind of exciting, to see these students banding together and taking on their institutions, it's quite something", explained Kirby Dick.

The two women have made a full-time campaign of their focus, time and energy to touring the country in support of campus-incidence sexual assault victims. They aim their attention at aiding students at other schools, using their own experience to help them file complaints against their colleges and universities. When the year 2014 concluded, they had been responsible for enabling and encouraging the lodging of no fewer than 96 Title IX complaints.

If nothing of substance happens to remediate the situation, says Mr. Dick, over ten thousand rapes will take place on American university campuses in 2015.

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