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Hate Crimes: A Rape Every Minute, a Thousand Corpses Every Year

There' a pattern of violence against women that’s broad and deep and incessantly overlooked.
 
 
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Here in the United States, where there is a reported rape every 6.2 minutes, and one in five women will be raped in her lifetime, the  rape and gruesome murder of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi on December 16th was treated as an exceptional incident. The story of the alleged rape of an unconscious teenager by members of the Steubenville High School football team was still unfolding, and gang rapes aren’t that unusual here either. Take your pick: some of the 20 men who  gang-raped an 11-year-old in Cleveland, Texas, were sentenced in November, while the instigator of the  gang rape of a 16-year-old in Richmond, California, was sentenced in October, and four men who  gang-raped a 15-year-old near New Orleans were sentenced in April, though the six men who  gang-raped a 14-year-old in Chicago last fall are still at large.  Not that I actually went out looking for incidents: they’re everywhere in the news, though no one adds them up and indicates that there might actually be a pattern.

There is, however, a pattern of violence against women that’s broad and deep and horrific and incessantly overlooked. Occasionally, a case  involving a celebrity or lurid details in a particular case get a lot of attention in the media, but such cases are treated as anomalies, while the abundance of incidental news items about violence against women in this country, in other countries, on every continent including  Antarctica, constitute a kind of background wallpaper for the news.

If you’d rather talk about bus rapes than gang rapes, there’s the  rape of a developmentally disabled woman on a Los Angeles bus in November and the  kidnapping of an autistic 16-year-old on the regional transit train system in Oakland, California -- she was raped repeatedly by her abductor over two days this winter -- and there was a  gang rape of multiple women on a bus in Mexico City recently, too.  While I was writing this, I read that  another female bus-rider was kidnapped in India and gang-raped all night by the bus driver and five of his friends who must have thought what happened in New Delhi was awesome.

We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.

Here I want to say one thing: though virtually all the perpetrators of such crimes are men, that doesn’t mean all men are violent. Most are not. In addition, men obviously also suffer violence, largely at the hands of other men, and every violent death, every assault is terrible.  But the subject here is the pandemic of violence by men against women, both intimate violence and stranger violence.  

What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Gender

There’s so much of it. We could talk about the assault and rape of a  73-year-old in Manhattan’s Central Park last September, or the recent rape of a  four-year-old and an  83-year-old in Louisiana, or the New York City policeman who was  arrested in October for what appeared to be serious plans to kidnap, rape, cook, and eat a woman, any woman, because the hate wasn’t personal (though maybe it was for the  San Diego man who actually killed and cooked his wife in November and the man from  New Orleans who killed, dismembered, and cooked his girlfriend in 2005).

 
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