Rape culture isn’t a myth, it’s real and dangerous

By Nur Fatihah Irdina

Rape culture isn’t a myth, nor is it safe. It’s real, and it’s dangerous. Together, we must work to abolish rape culture once and for all.” That’s the position taken at the recent talk regarding the issue.

By definition, rape culture is a culture where social attitudes and institutional systems treat sexual assault as normal, trivial, or even expected, thereby enabling sexual assaults to be committed with more frequency and without consequence. 

Rape culture was the topic of discussion in a talk organised by the women wing of The Good Society IIUM known as Empowher on Saturday (20 November).

The talk featured Effa Azuin, an experienced lawyer on legal issues pertaining to women and children.

It was moderated by Desiree Wilone Christian, a former intern at KRYSS Network that advocates for online gender-based violence. 

The statistical number of rape victims has increased over the past few years. Most significantly during the pandemic, the lockdown has led to decline in crime rate but it also gave rise to abuses. 

However, recent turmoil in Malaysia has also changed the outlook on the issue. Earlier this year, the issue of rape joke made in a school institution that went viral through the report of Ain Husniza, a 17-year-old high school student alleging she has been harassed with sexual innuendos made by her school teacher.

For every rape victim, the victims are left at stake in search for help. As Azuin mentioned in the talk, the rape culture is deemed taboo by the eye of the public despite the upsurge of the issue itself on social media and news media outlet, which brings us back to the question of how far can the law defend the victim.

“The reason why is rape complaints is often overlooked is because it involves stages and processes. It begins with consent that is presented by the victims’ evidence as can be observed from any physical injuries, vaginal tears, and seminal fluid test,” Azuin said.

Even with full protection, Azuin remarked that victims are vulnerable to long-term effect. 

“Vulnerable groups are targeted young adults who do not know that they are victimised. Sometimes they feel scared and pitiful towards the perpetrators leading them to resort to withdrawing the complaints.

Giving justice also means considering the victim’s mental capacity in enduring the prolonged testimony and trials.” said Azuin.

“Self-defence kits such as pepper sprays, small knives and alarms are encouraged for self-protection. However, certain items such as the small knives are illegal in cases where the perpetrators are attacked by the victims in the name of self-defence. This is another facet of law,” Azuin added.

But Azuin argued that on discussing rape culture, what needs to be done is to educate and should be addressed at a grass-root level as the future generation s betting on the impact of this issue. 

“Young adults need to distinguish the line between consent and entitlement. They are unaware of their position as individuals around family and friends which is why marital rape, cousins raping their own family members do happen.”

“The development on educating Malaysians about rape culture is extricably tied to making ourselves as independently educated as we can.”***

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