Violence against women is an age-old phenomemon. Sohaila Abudali was gang raped and nearly killed years ago when she was 17 and living in Bombay. She was hiking on a mountain with a male friend. Both were taken by a group of four armed men, her friend beaten and she raped for hours. After writing an article about her experience, her battle to survive, and her ultimate triumph as a human being and as a woman, she and her experience faded from the public eye. Only now, after the horrific gang rape of a girl in Delhi, did her article resurface to public attention.
Abudali's Op-Ed piece in the New York Times this weekend is powerful. She writes about her survival with her dignity intact despite the violent attack. She writes that rape should concern the protection of a woman's safety and should never be tied in to her virtue or to the honor of fathers, brothers, families. She writes about a system constructed to blame victims, which of course should instead protect them.
Soraya Chemaly writes a powerful piece on rape in this weekend's Huffington Post. A self-identified feminist, Chemaly writes about violence against women as accepted and commonplace. In her piece, she focuses on the cultural phenomenon of victim-blaming and acceptance of male on female violence. As Chemaly says, "[Men] aren't born to rape," and as Abudali says, "We have spent generations constructing elaborate systems of patriarchy, caste and social and sexual inequality that allow abuse to flourish."
Both send a hopeful message for the future that it is our cultural norms that set human behavior. Perhaps there is a chance we can change them.