The sun does not always shine in through the curtains, waking the sleeping gently with the beauty of the world. Sometimes she wakes up remembering the world around her, remembering her luck and lamenting the cloudy skies elsewhere. This morning my heart beats a little harder for two women half a world away, since their own hearts have ceased to pulse.
This topic isn’t exactly dinner conversation, and perhaps that is the problem. The sexual violation of women is one that we do not condone, and vehemently oppose. Only a relative few of those who find it wrong will speak out against it, and those are rewarded with the social stigma of being some kind of feminist crusader.
Rape is something we are not comfortable bringing to the table, and on some level, that allows it to continue. The two women are Indian. One, a 23-year-old Indian student who died from organ failure after being gang raped by six men with an iron rod on a moving bus in Delhi. She had an infection in her lungs and abdomen, liver damage and a brain injury from the assault. The other, a 17-year-old girl who committed suicide following pressure from Indian authorities to drop charges in her own rape case. The police in this case allegedly tried to get the victim to accept a cash settlement or marry one of her attackers.
There is no middle ground here, yet that seems to be where many people lay. We are silent, although here in the U.S., someone is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes. 97 percent of these rapists will never spend a day in jail.
As a teenager, I had a yellow piece of construction paper tacked on my bedroom wall with a quote by poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox reading:
“To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”
It makes worse than that. It makes cowards, and creates victims. Silence is powerful. It has its time and place. There is also a time to speak out, and speak truth. As long as we treat rape as taboo and shameful to talk about, it will continue to plague the women, men and children of our world. Sexual assault is never okay, and it is always okay to tell someone about it.