This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

When Will International Media Scream ‘Rape In The US’?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Kritika Pramod Kulshrestha:

With the news of the Delhi gang rape of a medical student splashed across local and international news websites for a few weeks now, I wanted to tickle my curiosity a little more and so I ran a web search with the keyword ‘rape’ on Google (trust me, this was not even but and all the links that appeared on Google’s first search-results page screamed ‘India Gang Rape’. As I hit the scroll bar and checked all the links on pages two and three, I came across links to rape incidents and crimes in Scotland, Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa, India, UK, and finally to the small mention of the recent Ohio rape case on a little-known Australian website. Finally, the news links all directed to the latest news emerging in the Indian rape case. Do you think there is something missing here? In the media-frenzy and hype surrounding the political, moral, and cultural degradation in India and other countries such as Pakistan; we have forgotten that the United States (a developed nation and a super-power that considers itself invincible) shares with India the proclivity for breeding a culture of misogyny, sexism, and rape.

rapes in US

In fact, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted in 2010, nearly one in five women are estimated to have been victims of heinous rape; defined as attempted or unwanted complete sexual penetration. In 91.9 percent of the cases, the offender was someone the victim was familiar with; statistics also show that in 2010, an estimated 1.27 million American women were raped (a shocking figure), equivalent to one woman every 29 seconds. While the statistics and survey results have been debated widely, one cannot ignore the fact that gender violence and barbarity exist even in the United States. Across the US, sex trafficking and domestic violence remain a problem. In 2011 alone, India, a country whose population is many times greater than that of the United States, reported 12 times fewer rapes.

Why does Google ignore rape in the US? Why do news organizations on foreign shores remain oblivious to the brutality of the high-school footballers who raped a 16-year-old unconscious girl in distant Steubenville, Ohio? The US has a rape problem and one reason why we do not hear much about rape victims in the US is because Americans refuse to admit that there is a serious problem. While the American media has continued to highlight the sexist culture that prevails in India, they have forgotten to make very obvious references to rape cases in their own country. Why, you ask? The simple reason for this is that Americans simply choose to ignore the issue. Why even members of the Congress failed to renew the Violence against women Act which was a landmark law that was passed in 1994 and that has now expired! Not only did they fail to renew the Act, but also they put on hold, the International Violence against women Act. It’s quite possible that members of the Congress cannot take a brave stand on sexual violence.

Rape will not be a ‘big deal’ in a country where a Republican congressional candidate in Washington says that the ‘rape thing’ is not a suitable reason for a woman to have an abortion. When he makes statements such as “On the rape thing, its like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime — how does that make it better? You know what I mean?” he is trivializing a grave issue. He is not the only male politician to dismiss rape as a casual matter. Joining him, to add fuel to the controversies and to the ire of women world over, is a politician who claimed that rape is a ‘gift from God’ and another, a Wisconsin state representative Roger Rivard who said that “some girls rape easy”. How will rape victims speak up when an entire county and close-knit community of football player-idolizing folks support the football team’s leading stars who have been charged with rape?

Rape in the US is such a trivial issue, isn’t it? It is such an insignificant crime that teenagers who partied through the summer night, members of the football team, and the offenders (Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond) both heroes to the local community of football-crazy people, found it worthy of being publicized through Twitter posts, photographs, and videos. While the girl (who was drunk and could not resist) was sexually assaulted and even raped, onlookers watched, photographed, and even participated in the gruesome act. Even while the football team was entangled in the controversy, the judge handling the case recused himself stating “it’s a very small community, everybody knows everybody”. Even the team’s football coach stood by his players, saying “the players who posted the online photographs of the girl the night of the parties said they did not think they had done anything wrong”.

In a country where people can turn a blind eye to violence against women because their glory and the county’s popularity depend on their star football team, rape deserves to be ignored. In a nation that is proud of its achievements, and where people opine that after the rape, ‘the boys have to live with it for the rest of their lives’; rape should not be spoken about.

Another possible reason why rape is often ignored in the US is because it is very difficult to define it. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network or RAINN, the U.S.’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, the words ‘sexual assault’, ‘rape’, and ‘sexual abuse’ are used differently in different states and they can also mean different things. There are different laws applicable in different states, making it even more tedious to prosecute offenders. In most states of the US, the age of consent is 16 or 18. In some states, the age of consent varies according to the age difference between the participants. Different states have different parameters for defining the mental and legal capacity to consent to sexual intercourse. There are many categories and definitions that vary widely from state to state. So possibly, it is very hard for Americans to define rape. Don’t you agree?

Hopefully, the anti-rape protests and widespread awakening of human consciousness should do something to curb the rampant violence inflicted on women in America. It is time that America woke up to face the reality and stopped pointing fingers at others. It is high time the US public and lawmakers educate themselves on sexual violence and ended ‘rape illiteracy’ in the nation. It is time for the US to stop rape and even more important — recognize rape as a deeply-rooted problem.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Priyanka B

By Ritwik Trivedi

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below