No means no

No means no

Sunday, 17 November 2013

'The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.' - Gloria Steinem

I only acknowledged my truth reasonably recently, and it certainly did piss me off. I wish, so often, that I had confronted it many years ago, so that it doesn't drag me now to dark places where I don't want to be in the later years of my life. Instead I struggle with PTSD and memories and the knowledge that I didn't do anything to deserve what happened to me, but neither did I do anything, at the time, to help ensure it would never happen to others. That's often a serious issue for rape victims, especially young ones, but to tell or not to tell should never be the question - there should be no need for that question.

Now that I am older and have acknowledged my truth and the fact that I can definitely help and it's not too late, I have, on a small scale, become an activist and organiser and supporter. I hope, through my involvement, that I can spread the message that sexual violence against women and girls is NEVER okay. 

One Billion Rising is a worldwide campaign that calls on survivors of sexual violence to tell their stories, thereby helping others and working towards justice for all and the eradication of a discourse that allows rape culture to fester and spread. On 14 February 2013 the theme for One Billion Rising was Strike Dance Rise, and activists, dancers, women, men, ordinary people and extraordinary people from 207 countries around the world took part. A small but very dedicated group joined me in Queen Street Mall, Brisbane, for three flash mob performances of a dance written and choreographed especially for the 2013 event.  

In the past 12 months some horrendous stories have hit the headlines and gone viral on social media.  The list below is by no means exclusive:

  • the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandy in India, the extremely slow action by the police to bring the perpetrators to justice and the defense lawyer victim blaming;
  • a young woman raped by members of a college football team in Steubenville, USA. This matter might have been swept under the carpet if it hadn't been pushed by the social media justice group "Anonymous";
  • the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons in Canada who was raped whilst drunk; pictures of her rapists violating her were circulated on the internet and she was subjected to sever cyber bullying.  Rehtaeh was not afforded justice until after her death, and only then because of the efforts of "Anonymous" and her parents, Glen and Leah, to ensure that her death was not simply swept into the statistics pile by the police;
  • The rape and death of a 5 year old in India by two men just weeks after the kidnapping, torture and rape of another 5 year old, whose disappearance was not taken seriously by police;
  • Daisy Coleman of Maryville, USA, raped and then the subject of a Fox News interview where the rapist's defense attorney claimed she was at fault for being "rape-able";
  • a Swiss couple, cycling through India in March, were attacked by 8 men from a village in Datia district; the man was tied up while the men the gang raped his wife;
  • police in New Zealand under fire for inaction over the "Roast Busters" gang rapes when they didn't take the complaint of a 15 year old victim seriously;
  • a woman raped by a bouncer two years ago in Wellington, New Zealand, whose case only just made it to court, told by the defense lawyer that she "could have closed her legs".
In 2014 the theme for One Billion Rising is Rise for Justice. We want to reach much, much further than we did in 2013. We want the message to get out to as many people as possible - violence against women and girls in NOT okay, rape is NOT okay, justice must be seen to be done.

Please join us - RSVP to the Brisbane event on the One Billion Rising website, "Like" us on Facebook, learn the dance - it will still be a big part of our 2014 activities - and encourage your friends, employer, workmates, school, sports groups, community groups or anyone else you know to get involved.

For the violence to end, rape culture must end and justice must prevail.  The only way that is going to happen is if every single person understands the problem, becomes actively involved and Rises for Justice.

So yes, Gloria, I am not yet over "pissed off", but it's an anger that drives me to help ensure that others don't have to go through what I did, and what hundreds of thousands of other women and girls go through every day.  We WILL be set free!

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