About 8,006 miles separate Statesboro, Georgia from New Delhi, India, but despite the distance, I am in the trenches with the women of India who continue to protest the barbaric gang rape of the 23-year-old medical studentwhose life ended as the result of being assaulted. This attack on the woman takes me to the front lines again to shout this battle hymn to the world: violence against women must end.
India, of course, is steeped in a culture that does not truly respect women, but theirs is not the only culture that perpetuates this mindset. It’s here in America too. Look at this information for eye-opening statistics.
Last week’s New York City subway tragedy in which an argument led to the death of Ki-Suk Han after he was pushed by an assailant onto the tracks of an oncoming subway train verified violence is rampant in America. Many journalists chose to report that subway motormen were at fault for not being required to enter stations at lower speeds.
One might think this is the answer. But, as I considered the circumstances, I thought about how many bystanders were on the train platform who did nothing to come to the aid of the victim.
On the night of my sexual assault 22 years ago in a hotel in downtown Atlanta, nearby room guests heard my screams. Police reports verify one man came out of his hotel room as a result of my cries for help.
from the Police report…
“I heard a woman’s voice yelling with an unmistakable “No, No.” I exited my hotel room to look down the hallway and upon seeing nothing but a person’s arched back entering a door, I returned to my room. Yet I still felt uneasy.”
This bystander could have intervened on my behalf!
The man in the subway died needlessly because sadly, people just stood around–an idle curse of humankind.
Rather than be “standers by,” we need to be stander bearers who have courage to get involved when society urges us to look the other way.
Thisvideo is one you don’t want to miss. It was presented to a group of us attending the Georgia Symposium on Sexual Violence two weeks ago. It left me inspired to continue talking about rape and sexual assault and to continue my involvement in any MOVEMENT to stop sexual violence against women.
Here’s what we can learn from this video:
1) It takes guts for a leader to stand out and be ridiculed.
2) In order to be effective, leaders should embrace followers as equals.
3) The first follower can transform a “lone nut” into a leader.
4) A movement must be public. It must show not just the leader, but the followers as well.
5) Consequently, the followers can emulate the followers. 6) The result is powerful and can create a movement needed to bring about change.
What’s worse? Fearing you are going to be attacked by the Taliban or your own fellow serviceman?
That’s the sickening reality females serving in our US military are facing every day. Yesterday, NBC’s Natalie Morales on Rock Center with Brian Williams interviewed women who had been sexually assaulted by fellow members of the armed forces. The four servicewomen interviewed reported they feel betrayed and personally retaliated against because of reporting their assaults and rapes. The interview brings to light a long-standing problem in our US armed forces. Last year, 3,192 service members across all branches of the military reported sexual assaults. Based on anonymous surveys conducted in 2010, the Department of Defense says a more accurate number of incidents involving sexual assault is actually closer to 19,000.
After watching the broadcast, I applaud these women for having the courage to stand up to military brass and talk about this epidemic of sexual assault within the ranks of our armed forces. See broadcast here.