The day DSK was dismissed I sent this out via Twitter: I am so OVER women being put on trial when they get raped, leaving their houses when they get beaten, quitting jobs after they get harassed.
Within seconds, emails, tweets and Facebook responses began to pour in. Women sent me stories about cases reported and unreported.
One woman pressed charges against a younger male student who stalked and attempted to rape her at Seminary school. She wrote to the Dean and a church district Superintendent. She was told no one could help her. She faced much hostility from members of her community. She kept going. Her tale had a happy ending: "I was granted my Order of Protection; I am affecting important change here at my school, the school is stepping up to create better policies."
A 12-year-old in Missouri is blamed for reporting a rape and forced to write a written apology to the boy who raped her and deliver it personally. She is accused of filing a fake report and thrown out of school. Then, when she returned to school, he sexually assaulted her again. Her mother took her to an advocate and they discovered his DNA on her clothes. Eventually the boy plead guilty.
Women's activist Monique Wilson from the Philippines writes:
This reminds me of our Filipina girl, Nicole, some years ago raped by a U.S. soldier on our soil. He was actually found guilty in our courts and sentenced but our cowardly government -- ever reliant and dependent on the US -- bowed to the full might of the US embassy and government who gave him full protection from our jails and laws. In effect they gave him immunity after he had already been tried and sentenced. Meanwhile, Nicole had been vilified by our press and religious groups, because on the night of the rape she was wearing a short skirt and she was dancing at a party like any other young woman would. They made judgments on her because of that. Then the saddest thing of all Nicole could no longer live in the country so steeped in religious righteousness, that demonized her so she took up the U.S. offer of a visa and left for the US. They bought her silence and broke her spirit.
The list goes on. What happens to women who come forward to press charges against rape and battery? They are often told it's because of the way they were dressed, they wanted it, they are making it up. Their own histories are put on trial. Forensic evidence: bruised vaginas, semen-stained collars, destroyed souls. Often these are the last things considered. The DSK dismissal outraged women and made us sad, but I think the worst thing it could do is lead women to believe that speaking out and getting justice is too grueling, too shaming, too impossible. It's a long road. Justice does not come fast or easily. While there are dedicated and innovative prosecutors and officials seeking justice for rape survivors, they are far too few, and the justice systems often appear to work against the victims.
I really do believe there will come a time when rape is understood as rape, where men and justice systems will understand that no one has the right to take a woman, grab a woman, hurt a woman, have sex with a woman against her will. And it doesn't matter what she is wearing, what she does for a living or even if she has lied or made mistakes in her past or was not a virgin. RAPE IS RAPE. I know this time will come and the only way it will come is for all of us to be super brave and come forward every single time we are raped, molested, beaten or groped. I think the DSK dismissal should be our call to action, not despair.
In the name of justice for women, V-Day is initiating the V-Report, inviting women throughout the world with a story or case to report to do so online -- to tell us what happened, to share your story.
Here's what you need to know. We will listen to your story. We will record it on this site. We will give you the space to say what you need to say and we support your right, your need to say it.
We are going to create a live space for these stories and then down the road we will call a Global Press Charges Day.
There is a sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious force of silencing women that occurs in this ongoing state of patriarchy. Whether it is consciously intentional or not is of no consequence. The mechanism exists. It is a very dangerous thing as the tenuous ground that abused women stand on is already so shaky and fraught. We need many, many more lawyers and prosecutors and courts that want rape to end, that want women to live safely and freely. We need systems where women feel invited, not shamed to report their cases. We need legal structures that actually discourage rapists and take the act as seriously as the woman whose life it destroys. Nafissatou Diallo should have had her day in court. A jury should have decided her fate. She was entitled to that. Women are entitled to that.
In the absence of truth, the public and the media fill the void with their negative projections. Nafi is left after the dismissal attacked and demonized. Now she is another disappeared woman.
Where there is impunity, where there is no accountability, where a woman does not have her day in court, rape and violence spread. Scrape the surface of 1 billion women on the planet (and that is a UN statistic that one out of three women will be raped or beaten during their lifetime) and you will find a story of violence or rape that determined the trajectory of that woman's life in some fundamental way.
How many of those women never spoke up or out? How many of those women were afraid to press charges?
Let the DSK dismissal be our call to rise. Something has shifted with this case, let's seize this moment. Let so many of us speak out that it's a landslide and it turns the tide and the courts and the method of justice.
So, I'll go first:
My father regularly beat me senseless and sexually abused me. He gave me bloody noses in restaurants and smashed my head against walls and whipped my legs with belts. There was no one to turn to. I am reporting it here and now. He has passed on, but I want it on the record.
JOIN US, CONTRIBUTE TO THE V-REPORT AT http://www.facebook.com/vday.