Rape is a topic no sane person would enjoy discussing but we have to acknowledge that it is a problem. If we don’t talk and have intelligent discourse about it and if we don’t actively work towards changing attitudes towards it, we end up with sheer incomprehensibility like the Stanford ex-swimmer who only got six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman (and his father, who defended his actions), a woman who gets arrested for reporting her own rape and closer to home, we’re all too aware of how sexual abuse and assault is ignored, silenced and hidden away in shame.
According to the statistics collected by AWAM (All Women Action Society) and Pusat Khidmat ADUN Damansara Utama, there are 3000 rape cases reported every year by women. These are just the people who had the courage and support to be able to go seek out the relevant authorities. Unfortunately, the stigma of fear and shame is very strong, and does interfere with anyone trying to get help.
The first of its kind in Malaysia, antirogol.com, is an anti-rape website that was recently launched with the purpose of raising awareness about rape in Malaysia. Their content is meant for the reference of rape victims, rape survivors, families and activists in Malaysia.
Featured on the website is also a 24 hour care-line and as stated on their “About Us” section, “Rape is still a taboo topic for many segments of Malaysian society. As a result, the rape victims and survivors become helpless and voiceless.”
It all looks very impressive and could do a lot to help the female victims of rape in Malaysia but, as I looked through the site, something became more and more prominent.
We are outraged and angry when rape happens to women and children, but what about the victims who are men?
antirogol.com defined rape specifically as: Rape is when a man has sexual intercourse with a women against her will, without her consent. That is true for one definition of rape, but this implies that only men can rape, and only women are victims. Even statutory rape is defined as: Sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 whether or not she has given consent.
As it stands, there are no available statistics for male victims of rape in Malaysia, because, more than the women, they are unable to speak out and report what has been done to them.
I am not diminishing or demeaning any woman who has been raped, but if we are going to try raise awareness about rape, how can we ignore one half of the population?
There is the problem that some believe it is not even possible for males to be raped. However, the damage that they sustain, both physical and more importantly, psychologically and emotionally, should not be considered any less than what is felt by women.
Since antirogol.com is made for victims, it should at least have a subsection where the men can also find their own space for counselling and healing. The very few who have dared to share their stories about being raped report the same thing—that they have a very difficult time just being taken seriously, that justice is rarely served and they are alone on their journey towards healing.
It is true that according to the laws of our land (Penal Code, Section 375, page 196) rape is still narrowly defined as purely male on female. In contrast, the incest section (Section 376A, page 200) allows that either a male or female can commit incest.
However, laws take time to change. Mindsets need to change first. Since antirogol.com is taking an active initiative to address rape, they should also consider that not all the victims look the same or are just one gender. For an organisation that wants to give voice to the voiceless, here’s a group has been muted and unable to speak for the longest time.
If you are a victim of rape or know someone who is, please get in contact with the relevant authorities. There are focus groups and counsellors available to help.
Feature Image Credit: antirogol.com