By Javier Zúñiga, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Javier Zúñiga is a special adviser for Amnesty International. The views expressed are his own.
When Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto came to power a year ago, he was the new face of the old Partido Revolucionario Institucional, the political machinery that dominated the country for more than 70 years. With his carefully built image of a dynamic young professional, Peña Nieto started his term in office by launching multiple reform initiatives, covering numerous aspects of daily life in the country. He claims that his policies will put Mexico on a promising train to modernity and prosperity. But a year on, what has he really achieved?
One of Peña Nieto’s early commitments was to end the cycle of human rights violations and violence that so characterised former President Felipe Calderon’s administration. Sadly, he has not delivered on that promise: On…
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There is something wrong in a society where rape is a common occurrence. In American culture, rape, is a common occurrence, something that “just happens” and at the core of it all is our sympathy towards rapists. Yes, American culture sympathizes with rapists, and our criminal justice system is a reflection of it. It all begins when a rape is reported. Rape occurs often and it is underreported, so the statistics we have are a fraction of the total number. 54% of rapes are not reported to the police. Then the next step taken is questioning the victim’s accusations. Here is where the sympathy starts. Questioning the victim’s accusations demonstrates how sympathetic we feel towards the “alleged rapist”. We automatically question the victim’s credibility because we assume that the victim is a liar; that there is an ulterior motive for making such accusations. The American criminal justice system is a reflection of American culture’s sympathy for rapists because 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail and out of every 100 cases 5 will lead to a felony conviction.
We have all heard the stories of men who were unjustly accused of rape. The problem with focusing on false accusations, which rarely happen, is that it takes the focus away from the victim and the rape. It also happens to be the first line of defense for the sympathizers. False accusations happen so rarely that they should not be the focus of the investigation and it shouldn’t sway investigative procedure. False accusations happen 2% of the time. Rape actually happens all the time and only a few cases reported. Rape is very common, but for some reason false accusations are what take center stage in rape cases. Not the victim Not the act. Not the violence. Not the trauma. Our media even over reports false allegations. When the discussion is about rape, rape should be in everyone’s mind rather than on the small chance that it might be a false accusation. It is as if the voices of a very small percentage of men are more important than the voices of the victims (whose cases outnumber false accusations). Men tend to pretend that false allegations are the issue and not the fact that men rape. (Yes, I am using men as a reference. Generally, men are the rapists). Putting an end to false accusations will do nothing to diminish the prevalence of rape. Ending rape and providing proper aid to victims of rape should be the main concern. Rape sympathizers will argue that both problems are equally tragic and should be resolved. I agree that innocent people should never pay for crimes they didn’t commit, but in my opinion, addressing rape should be the priority. Ending rape will end such accusations. Most importantly, there will be no more victims.
American culture needs to stop sympathizing with rapists and learn that rape is unacceptable. Rapists do not need defending or pity. We do not have to feel bad for whatever negative life impacts rapists will encounter after a conviction. The rapist never gave a fuck about the victim. He never thought about the negative impact his actions would have on the victim. He did’t care that he would harm a person for life, both physically and emotionally. Shit, he didn’t even care give a fuck about himself when he decided to rape. He was aware that rape is morally wrong and illegal. He knew that if he raped he could face jail time, but decided to do it anyways. He knew the harm and violence implicated in the act. Some rapists even brag about what they did and feel no remorse. So they do not need any sympathy. They decided to commit a horrible crime and now they must be subjected to the consequences of their actions. To learn to truly view rape as unacceptable, we must first, help survivors regain their lives by providing them with proper treatment for a full recovery. We must rewrite definitions of rape as away to ensure that all survivors have justice served. We have begun to take steps in updating our definitions of rape to include other forms of rape and not only “penile to vaginal forcible penetration”, but we still have a long way to go. America as a whole is still not on the same page when it comes to defining rape.
Just like we do with drugs. We must use our criminal justice system as a way of deterring rape from happening or being repeated, by punishing rapists to the full extent of the law. Let’s prevent rapists from continuing their activities and others from attempting to commit rape by severely punishing convicted rapists. Rapists should not get to walk away without rightfully paying for their crime. Rapists should not be allowed to have the same rights as fathers. They do not deserve those or any right to be outside of a prison precisely because they’re rapists, but 31 states grant them visitation and custody rights. It’s terrifying to learn that this is happening now. It’s terrifying to learn that rapists will live their lives without conviction 97% of the time and that if they impregnate their victims most states in America will grant them visitation and custody rights. It’s terrifying to learn that our culture still thinks that false accusations are a problem greater than rape. But what’s more terrifying is learning that survivors do not get the same sympathy that rapists receive. They do not receive the help necessary to overcome such a traumatic experience. Instead, to add insult to injury victims are mostly questioned, discredited and in most cases they often have to encounter their rapists over and over again. Most men don’t rape. They know that it is wrong and gross, and they do not find it in themselves to rape. I’m sure rape is not a lingering thought in their brains. Rapists are not normal men. They do not need to be pitied by our society. They do not need sympathy. What they need is fair punishment for their crimes against humanity.
The following includes descriptions, photos, and video that may serve as a trigger for victims of sexual violence.
Please be advised.
Someone asked me today, “What is ‘rape culture’ anyway? I’m tired of hearing about it.”
Yeah, I hear ya. I’m tired of talking about it. But I’m going to keep talking about it because people like you keep asking that question.
Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, no one says, “Stop.”
Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, they can’t get anyone to come forward.
Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and adults are informed of it, but no consequences are doled out because the boys “said nothing happened.”
Rape culture is when a group…
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