Rape. It’s what nightmares are made of, a fear that we harbor at least once in our lifetime, the absolute loss of control, terror grasped at hand. The exact devastation occurred recently in Taipei, January 15, when a taxi driver was detained Sunday for sexually assaulting one of three female South Korean tourists who hired him for a day trip around northern Taiwan.
The driver working under the Jerry Taxi tour company, professedly identified as Chan (詹), slipped in a knockout drug into a probiotic drink he gave the three women before sexually attacking one of the two who passed out in his vehicle. The third woman, who was not entirely unconscious because she only had a sip of the spiked drink, was suggested to have a tour around the Shilin night market while Chan allegedly harassed the two remaining friends.
The bigger problem surfaces, not directed towards the incident itself, but more to the significance behind it. Amidst the flurry of encouragements sent from the Korean netizens consoling the tourists, a few minority comments were found pointing out things ranging from “why did the girl decide to drink the yogurt without any suspicion” to “it’s her fault for trusting the taxi driver”. This brings up a sad but inevitable truth often understated in the public. Including but not limited to rape-free alarms and anti-molestation jacket, the message is evident: people should try harder to not get raped.
Victim blaming is not entirely universal, but it still seems to be a natural psychological reaction. People today live in a culture that not only places sexually harassed victims as the scapegoat but also preaches potential targets, especially women, that it is their responsibility to take care of themselves. However, rape survivors frequently turn to a more intimate source of blame: they end up reproaching themselves for what had happened. So why, in spite of the clearly obvious fact that the perpetrator is to blame of all crimes, does victim-blaming never cease to take place in society?
In order to stop the self-blame, the person must will itself to overcome the fear of the wrongdoer. Of course, that would not be an easy task, as the victim would be ultimately powerless to face the reality. Strictly speaking, there are things in the world that people just cannot restrain from happening — and rape victims especially want to believe that running away from existence will solve the problem. It is little wonder that these subjects blame themselves, bearing in mind that people have been raised to believe that sexual assault, in essence, is bad.
Despite all, the societal misogyny, stereotypes about male and female sexual character (“it was just his natural human instinct” and “she was asking for it”), and fallacious misconceptions about rape (“if she didn’t say ‘no,’ she’s the one to fault”), all manifest contributions to victim-blaming, should be put to an end. At any rate, if a person is subject to being questioned what the victim could have done differently to avoid the crime, he or she is still somewhat engaging in the practice of victim-blaming. In fact, from a downplayed perspective, one may not always realize that they’re participating in it. The act can surely go unnoticed in the everyday life. Even something as little as considering the options of the crime scene in the victim’s point of view, trying to take the sensible approach, is actually one of the mildest yet most potent forms of victim-blaming. Without realizing, all of these can potentially lead to rape itself — and taking a step to genuinely solving them would be way more productive than worrying about what women should wear, conforming to the socially “acceptable” standards.
As one acknowledges that sexual violence can happen to anyone at any time, one does not need to speculate upon the reasons that the victim conjured to deserve the consequences, but begin to think about why the offender decided to commit such acts. Admittedly, rape is never the victim’s fault; hence, the victims should not be ashamed of what they have gone through. The society’s moral outlook sway many people’s view of perceiving things in the world, and it is time to stop the chastisement of supposedly provocative attire or late night walks and focus on what is really important. That is the only way one can seize control around life, yearn and yield the “just community” everybody wants to take part in.
– Ashley Kim (‘18)
Header credits: Isstime