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Swine & Dandy: What if we did as much to prevent rape as we do to prevent H1N1?

I spent most of this past spring and summer rolling my eyes every time I heard a news story about the swine flu. Almost every day local reporters got hysterical about 5 or 10 or 20 confirmed cases. Entire schools closed in response to a handful of kids with fevers, and as if there were no war in Afghanistan, no economic crisis, and no other epidemics claiming ten times as many lives, newscasters talked about H1N1 (the proper name for swine flu) for hours.

I have a degree in public health and my work focuses on preventing rape and other acts of violence and supporting survivors in healing from abuse. When I see all the attention swine flu is getting, I'm jealous. Other than intermittent news stories about sex offenders on the loose or why women who accuse professional athletes of rape are lying, sexual violence rarely gets any widespread coverage. Certainly no state of emergency declared by the President of the United States.

Now, I don't want to diminish the grief of those who have lost loved ones to H1N1. I don't even want to question the scientific validity of the Center for Disease Control's decision to declare it a pandemic. But the fact remains that the impact H1N1 has had on our country to date is far less than that of other public health crises that receive a fraction of the attention and resources. The CDC reported just over 43,000 cases of H1N1 between April and July of this year and estimates that it affected a million people in that time. Compare this to the 2.5% of women and 0.9% of men who reported being raped or sexually assaulted in the past year. That's more than 2.5 million sexual assaults in a three-month time period. The most recent statistics about rape available from the CDC are from last year. Swine flu? Last week. (Editor's note: A few sentences from the above paragraph have been updated to reflect statistical changes since this post was originally published.)

What would our media, our public discourse, and our institutional responses look like if people cared as much about rape as they do about H1N1?

I imagine the federal government urging colleges to stop the epidemic of rape by developing protocols for quarantining students who have tried to use drugs or alcohol to incapacitate women who would otherwise not consent to sex. Or university officials directing students to stay off campus or out of public areas until they are free of the belief that they are entitled to sex any time they want for a full 24 hours. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

I dream of public health departments so inundated with the demand for educational programs that teach kids about healthy relationships that they can't keep up. Of public outrage that there are not enough doses of self-defense training to inoculate everyone against rape, and of medical experts having to go on television to reassure people that more of these self-defense vaccines are on the way.

Then I wake up to a phone conversation with a principal who tells me there is no dating violence in his school and another with a teacher who desperately wants to offer rape prevention resources to her high school classes but can't because the entire budget for health education in her district was cut. So much for the dream.

But if I stop resenting H1N1 for getting so much attention for a moment, I realize that what I'm complaining about is actually public health at is best. It is probably true that the coordination of government urgency, media attention, medical system mobilization, and common sense precautions will succeed in thwarting a pandemic. We will probably not look back at 2009 and say it was the beginning of a swine flu crisis that devastated a generation.

What feels like hysteria or over-emphasis is actually the way prevention is supposed to look. It is supposed to be widespread and coordinated. Messages about the importance and seriousness of the public health threat are supposed to be so pervasive that they are almost impossible to ignore. I'm so used to caring about public health crises that don't get the attention and resources they deserve that I almost can't recognize what the public health system looks like when it does work.

This kind of focused attention is my wildest dream for our society's response to HIV, rape, domestic violence, drug addiction, racial health disparities, cancer-causing corporate pollution, food system injustice and every other area of public health that is marginalized.

So why is the public health infrastructure working so well? Because it's not being undermined by shame, stigma, and denial (you know, the way rape and sexual assault are). Even in the highest drama evening news stories there is almost a complete absence of victim blaming. Personal choices and individual behaviors spread the flu, but our government, our health workers, and our media understand that this crisis is too serious to waste time arguing over whether people who don't wash their hands or share cubicles with co-workers who fail to stay home from work the recommended 4 to 7 days deserve what they get.

It would be unthinkable for a person to avoid seeking treatment for swine flu because s/he's afraid that if s/he tells her/his doctor s/he'll be blamed for touching her/his eyes and nose or lose her/his housing because no parents want to raise their children in a neighborhood where people don't sneeze into their elbows

As if invoking the finale of High School Musical, when it comes to H1N1, we're all in this together. Swine flu is not concentrated in any population that people already hate or devalue, so raging debates about whose immoral lifestyle caused it don't get in the way of an effective public health response. (Even Fox News is posting stories that are sympathetic to people whose jobs don't have paid sick leave and the hardship they face in missing work as the authorities direct.) Wouldn't it be nice if other health crises were treated the same way?

In watching the rapid mobilization against this virus I know that the public health infrastructure works when our government, our media, and our medical leaders are motivated to mobilize it. H1N1 is not getting any attention it shouldn't – it's getting the attention all public health crises should.

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Comments

58 comments have been made. Post a comment.

This is so many kinds of

This is so many kinds of marvelous, I can barely breathe.

Perfect perfect.

Perfect perfect.

Take a breath

And realize that there are some men that feel this way too.....violence against women is unacceptable.

marble slab

thank you . nice !

When I started back to

When I started back to school in the fall, a handout on washing your hands to prevent H1N1 was on every desk of every class for the first week. Just imagining if those handouts were about rape prevention blows my mind.

word.

word.

absolutely brilliant. of

absolutely brilliant.
of course, if the government spent half the effort they did on... well, most things i'm sure it could do wonders for rape prevention.

Such a brilliant post. Thank

Such a brilliant post. Thank you for this!

Swine Flu

Meg, I love your energy and focus - and I love what you're saying and how you're saying it! I especially love this part:

It would be unthinkable for a person to avoid seeking treatment for swine flu because s/he’s afraid that if s/he tells her/his doctor s/he’ll be blamed for touching her/his eyes and nose or lose her/his housing because no parents want to raise their children in a neighborhood where people don’t sneeze into their elbows.

Funny, ironic, sad, TRUE.

Good for you!!!

"What would our media, our

"What would our media, our public discourse, and our institutional responses look like if people cared as much about rape as they do about H1N1?"

Yeah getting raped is a bit more complicated than getting the swine flu, one is transmitted through the air and the other...

Its not a question of "care" or "bias" or any shit like that. Swine flu is bloody simple, we know what causes it (VIRUSES) and we know how to stop it (WASH YOUR HANDS / VACCINATION).

You close by concluding: "In watching the rapid mobilization against this virus I know that the public health infrastructure works when our government, our media, and our medical leaders are motivated to mobilize it."

Their just sitting on their hands and letting "HIV, rape, domestic violence, drug addiction, racial health disparities, cancer-causing corporate pollution, food system injustice" happen.

A) The government, media, medical leaders not just letting those problems happen
B) There just isn't a #$%#$^ simple answer to these bigger problems.

By glossing over the fact that these public health problems are WAAY more complicated then H1N1 (orders of magnitude more complicated) you can be sassy and play the victim while 'the man' lets rape/drug addiction/vampire infestation run while. And a lot of good that's going to do.

"Its not a question of

"Its not a question of "care" or "bias" or any shit like that. Swine flu is bloody simple, we know what causes it (VIRUSES) and we know how to stop it (WASH YOUR HANDS / VACCINATION)."

We also know what causes sexual assault and rape, as well as what causes the chronic inattention to the issue: a society which devalues women and promotes/condones male violence as a normal expression of masculinity.

I think the piece is great. Very well put.

Almost agreed. I would argue

Almost agreed. I would argue that it's a society that encourages all types of normative gender(ed) behavior, on the parts of both men and women, that allow sexual assault and rape to happen, allow most of the burden for discussing and dealing with rape to be on the victim, and devalues individual expressions of sexuality in favor of dangerously generalized ones.

"We also know what causes

"We also know what causes sexual assault and rape, as well as what causes the chronic inattention to the issue: a society which devalues women and promotes/condones male violence as a normal expression of masculinity."

Uh, okay. So one; are we talking about RAPE, or are we just talking about rape against women? Because both happen quite frequently, and its unfair to say that its just to devalue women. Although I'm sure in some cases (nearly most) its about that need, what rape is is power. Its the fact that you can force someone against their will for something so primal. Its why men are raped. Its why children are raped. Its why women are raped. Power; second is sex. Maybe the rapist was raped themselves as a child or something to that effect. Its not such a black and white issue.

I don't think you can compare swine flu to something like rape, because they're totally on different sides of a spectrum. If you compared legalization of weed to rape, and perhaps how much they put into the prevention of legalization and DARE campaigns, and then how much goes on rape prevention, sure. But Swine Flu is something that you just catch...its like comparing a common cold (because swine flu isn't that big of a deal, really) to rape. It...it just doesn't work. How are you going to compare an airborne illness to a serious physiological problem that ONE bad person has. You can get a vaccine to get over H1NI. You don't recover from a 'good nights rest' from rape.

indeed!

The abolition of stigma surrounding assault, I feel, is almost an insurmountable task. I've got my 'flu shot, and am very glad for the press it has received. I don't interpret this to be hysteria, but decent, precautionary measures.

But you're right, if only there were such urgent talks about assertion, self worth, and the reporting/prevention of inappropriate behavior. It seems like a pipe dream, but with the evolution of each generation, I can only hope we will creep closer to an open dialogue concerning sexual health and relationships.

That was a long-winded way of saying: "I concur." Great article!

Great article!

Thanks for posting this! Truly, all public health crises should get this kind of publicity.

I especially love the High School Musical reference at the end.

Please have this writer post again!

Amen!

Amen!

yes

For real! This needed to be said. And hopefully we can all take the time to say it until our voices get heard!! Thank you for posting this!!

Thank you for this article.

Thank you for this article. I was raped on Friday. And reading this reminds me why it's not my fault. I am a feminist, and I couldn't believe I was blaming myself. But I was.

The things I wished for were:
- education for men, so my perpetrator could not use the excuse that he "didn't know that was rape". And my so-called-friend couldn't say "I'm sorry, but I don't think that was rape" and then ignoring my angry, hurt texts.
- all the facts on after-care: it wasn't until I called a rape helpline that I found out there are antibiotics that work to prevent STIs after unwanted unprotected sex

And it's interesting that you compared the attention given to H1N1 with the attention given to rape because when I was trying to get through to my family doctor on the phone, first I had to listen to the H1N1 information recorded message, then I was on hold forever, probably because of people trying to get through worried about a cold...

I like the way you described what it would look like if society dealt with rape as an epidemic. It helps me to imagine possibilities for change. :)

I'm sorry

I don't have much to say, I just wanted to tell you that I am sorry about what happened to you on Friday. Just a comment for you to know that there is one lone gal in AZ that is thinking of you. I have experienced sexual assault, as have thousands and billions of women, and it always helped me to know that there were other women out there holding space for the pain I was feeling. Sending you loving supportive thoughts of strength and healing from the desert.

Rape vs H1N1

Follow the money trail...There's no money in rape. Certainly not as much money as people like Donald Rumsfeld(97million dollars this year alone off of flu vaccine patents) are making from fear. The only thing that has raked in more money than illness in the last century is religion. Again the fear...fear of God. What a ridiculous way to live.

Great article, thanks!

WE KNOW WHAT CAUSES RAPE

"Its not a question of "care" or "bias" or any shit like that. Swine flu is bloody simple, we know what causes it (VIRUSES) and we know how to stop it (WASH YOUR HANDS / VACCINATION)."

We know what causes sexual assault and rape, as well as what causes the chronic inattention to the issue: a society which devalues women's lives/quality of life, and promotes/condones male violence as a normal expression of masculinity. Also, we know what could put an end to it, and it starts with the kind of concern, outrage, and co-ordination that has followed the swine flu "pandemic."

I think the piece is great!!!

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nice, thank you .

Bad math

Interesting article, and I agree with the need for more rape prevention measures. However, I'm pretty sure the stats in the piece are (unfortunately) completely wrong.
Consider this: The American population is about 305 million, so 0.3% of the population would be 915,000 people.
The CDC link that the article points to estimates 1 million Americans contracted H1N1 during the first wave of the illness, from April to July. So already the figures were above 0.3%, and that was back in the mid-summer.... Read More
When you consider how quickly the illness has spread during the second wave then it's pretty clear those figures will skyrocket. It's hard to quantify, but several universities have released studies that estimate as many as 60 per cent of Americans will get H1N1 by the end of 2009, which would be more than 180 million people.
I hate to put down an article with such good intentions, but the magazine's editors should have paid closer attention the the author's math. It's a pretty big gaffe.

Bad Research

In response to the above comment, "Bad Math" - The H1N1 flu is the flu. it is not the bubonic plague. So far, worldwide, in this fall flu season, it has a LOWER than average mortality rate than the normal seasonal fall flu does. This flu is being called a pandemic because last year (or was it 2 years ago), WHO changed their definition of a pandemic. Before, pandemics had to be spread through populations and include deaths. Now, the "death" part has been taken out of the definition. So any disease process that spreads is now, by definition, a pandemic.

At present, we see H1N1 is still considered a Stage 1 pandemic. The 1918 flu was a Stage 6 pandemic. The normal seasonal flu has always been either a Stage 1 or 2.

The fact that these enormous resources have been marshaled for this known & relatively "normal" flu around the world is remarkable - AND interesting. The article's focus, from a public health professional is correct in my opinion. Your "stats" are relatively meaningless. Every year millions of people get the Flu. They get better. Life goes on. In scientific terms there really is no evidence that H1N1 is anything but a different strain of the same flu we've known, except that it attacks more young people. We think that is because many older adults achieved immunity during the last round of this strain of the virus, which was in the 1950's. (Read more ;-/) There is no need for this full blown public panic that both unscientifically-informed governments AND the media have fueled.

Really excellent article, making a very valuable analogy. Thank you!

Huh?

At no point in my comment did I ever equate H1N1 with the bubonic plague, nor did I ever suggest it was anything more serious than the common influenza seen each year.

Once again, here's my point:

The article asserts that only .3% of Americans will get sick from H1N1. That's undeniably wrong.

If you look at the CDC link in the article you will see that information was misunderstood and misquoted by the author. The math is incorrect, and that's all I'm trying to say.

agreed--this article makes a good argument, but...

...good arguments are derailed by the use of false statistics.

The CDC article said that around 43,000 cases had been confirmed between April and July. The article then stated that the CDC estimates that (during a part of that same time period) "more than one million people became ill with novel H1N1 flu between April and June 2009 in the United States." April-June was part of the first wave of the virus. We are now in the second wave, and many, many more people have become ill.

Most public health organizations estimate that between 20 and 60 percent of the US population will have contracted H1N1 sometime during the spring 2009-spring 2010 year.

Again, I think this article is making a good point. But if you want your point to be made and accepted, you have to be truthful and thorough, especially if you're representing yourself as a public health official.

"Every year millions of

"Every year millions of people get the Flu. They get better. Life goes on."

Not for the 30,000 people a year who die from it.

"Every year millions of

"Every year millions of people get the Flu. They get better. Life goes on."
"Not for the 30,000 people a year who die from it."

However, millions of women and men are sexually assaulted every year and of those many who do survive the attack, life does not necessarily "go on" as if they had merely suffered a vicious cold. Many survivors of sexual assault encounter a long-lasting trauma which can impact their lives on a daily basis.

Viruses exist to propagate as a matter of survival, as does nearly every other organism on this planet. There are many human beings who feel they do not exist simply in order to propagate, and there are many who decline to do so as a matter of choice. While we all must eat food to survive, humans can choose what we *want* to eat among the resources available to us.

Sexual assault is not a matter of human survival. It isn't even a matter of sexual desire. It's a violent crime motivated by a desire for power over another person. Sexual assault is a crime of torture. And perpetrating it is a decision, a choice.

Viruses do not have the advantages of language or complex decision-making. You can't talk a virus out of invading your body. However it can sometimes be possible to talk a human being out of doing so-- and better yet, it's possible to educate a human being in a way that can cause that person to choose to *never* invade someone else's body in the first place.

I think it's great that our privileges of language and complex decision-making enable us to counteract minute organisms which pose a threat to us. However it's my opinion that sexual assault, just by the sheer number of those who are affected by it directly and indirectly, is a greater threat to our well-being.

I think that if one tenth of the resources that have been devoted to fighting this one particular virus was re-directed toward education in personal safety and mutual respect, the pandemic of sexual assault would be greatly diminished, and the quality of all of our lives would be greatly improved.

H1N1 is obviously something

H1N1 is obviously something that needs to be addressed on a global scale as far as prevention and treatment, but it doesn't have even a fraction of the scope of sexual assault. Gendered violence has been happening for centuries, and its victims are too numerous to count, both because of under reporting and things like legalized marital rape. H1N1 is a flash in the pan in the grand scheme of things, while sexual assault, family violence and other forms of gendered violence will, most likely and unfortunately, be an ongoing pandemic around the world for many years to come. Statistics in relation to sexual assault are always misleading (as are statistics for, well, almost anything) and offer little insight into its far-reaching effects.

Brilliant article

This article is brilliant. I think pieces like this can really open the eyes of people who don't have much of a background thinking critically about rape and society. Excellent work!

Thank you, so much for getting this out.

I was raped (multiple times) by my grandpa, I pressed charges (he has a lot of money). He got away, because he payed the DA off. That didn't get any publicity. What about that. I'm so thankful you did this. Keep going!

well said

Thank you. As a volunteer working on Minnesota's primary prevention plan and as a rape survivor, I too wish all those who feel the urgency to prevent the flu felt the urgency to prevent sexual violence and supported giving this prevention work the amount of resources which correspond to the scope of the problem.

Brilliant!

Brilliant!

Thank you so much for this

Thank you so much for this article.

Thank you

As a rape victim myself, I thank you for this article. I can only dream about the possibilities surrounding rape prevention....that something may happen in my lifetime.

Thank you!

Just my thoughts

Good article...the only thing that rubbed me a bit wrong was the "self defense innoculation." I don't think there is any comparison between self defense training and a flu shot. While self defense training can be useful it is certainly no guarantee against being raped and it also puts the responsibility for preventing rape back on the victim in a way that is not comparable to protecting oneself from infection.

brilliant article, but agreed

Absolutely loved this article, but agree with the above point. To the author: thank you for writing this!!

Good God, THANK YOU!

Good God, THANK YOU!

Refreshing

This is wonderful. As someone who hopes to one day go into public health, I admire you.

power

it's a question of power. who has power now? the capitalist system, the 'leaders of the free world" who dump millions of people in prisons; the nobel peace prize winners who continue massacre huge numbers of people in afghanistan and pakistan and iraq; the cdc and the whole public health system who's main tenets are to keep the status quo and get money. just imagine if it was all turned upside down, and led in a direction that puts first the needs of human beings all around the world. this article isn't just "refreshing" or "enlightening" but it's actually what could happen if there was a communist revolution. humanity needs revolution and communism - www.revcom.us.

rape article

The reason why H1N1 is getting so much response has to do with Big Pharma and the money to be made from the vaccine. If there was a spendy "anti-rape" drug, there might be similar responsiveness.

Probably true, but if there

Probably true, but if there were a free "anti-rape" drug, there would likely be an even bigger response. I don't think the potential for profit is the motivating factor here, I think its that there is a vaccine for H1N1, but not for rape. If there were such a vaccine, people would probably line up for hours to get it, drug companies would push it, people would suspect it was an evil conspiracy, and somebody would write an article about how they have day-dreams that whatever problem they deal with on a day to day basis could be taken so seriously. I think this article leans to heavily on the premise that "rape is bad", which is practically intrinsic to the definition of rape. As a result of these, people have a clouded opinion of it, leave comments like "amen", and flame anyone who leaves a comment that at all resembles constructive criticism. This reminds me of when I canvassed for the most pro family political party in a Canadian provincial election, and I had people tell me that they couldn't vote for the candidate I represented because he didn't have a clear stand on abortion. Abortion law in Canada is completely federal, and in fact comes from a Supreme Court ruling, so not only does the Provincial Government have nothing to do with abortion law, they aren't legally allowed to have anything to do with it, and for that matter, the federal government doesn't even have a direct influence on abortion law. Its ironic that the author of this article criticises 'fear mongering', when the practice is entirely analagous to people applauding a somewhat vague, poorly cited article arguing that rape is bad, and society should do more to stop it. Duh. At the end of the day, it seems that fanaticism is a by-product of ignorance, plain and simple. To spell it out: Yes, rape is bad. No, that doesn't mean that anyone who doesn't like this article disagrees with that fact. Wow, that reply turned into a rant. I guess I should mention that this comments is not directed entirely at the author of the above comment. Sorry about that.

Could you please elaborate

Could you please elaborate what your actual point or criticism is?

While somewhat interesting, your wall-o-text response runs around and seems to lack a central theme or message. Indeed, it appears to be a use of misleading and irrelevant anecdotes and personal opinion that attempt to disguise the fact you simply dislike the article and don't have much to say but wish to appear informed and relevant.

Really? I thought Anthony

Really? I thought Anthony was very articulate.

Extremely well written, and

Extremely well written, and thought provoking. Thank you.
I am just posting something similar i had written in response to the H1N1 mania in India.l I live in Pune, which started out as the 'epicentre' of the epidemic in India. Treatment of people infected with H1N1 was being done in Public Hospitals. In India about 85% of people access private health care, despite spiralling costs of private health care. This allows the Public Health System (already ridden with corruption) to be consciously ignored by the Government. Only the absolutely poor, and destitute utilise public hospitals.

Be the Change

In the face of the on going swine flu epidemic, for almost every patient who has unfortunately succumbed to the illness there are relatives who then engage in blaming the government hospitals and the public health system at large. Their virulence stems from not being treated on time, not being told results of the test reports, not being quarantined when they have a sore throat and so on. I can empathize with their grief and shock, but what I cannot understand is why it takes a death of a close family member/friend/relative for us to be indignant about supposed government lethargy and lack of basic health care facilities? The most obvious answer would be because almost all of us who belong to the middle class and elite sections of society have been accessing private medical care. Government hospitals are for the poor, the needy, and destitute—not for people who can afford holidays abroad and swanky cars. This in turns leads us ignore the dismal conditions in state run medical facilities, simply because it does not affect us at all. If a poor daily wage labourer was to die in a government hospital because there are no beds available to treat him—do we, have we or will we raise a stink about it? The answer is an unequivocal NO. We don’t give a damn. That’s it. Plain and simple. The poor can look after themselves, fight their own battles. How many of us actually feel a sense of ownership or responsibility when we hear such stories? More importantly do we channelize this sense of indignation that we feel?

In the case of swine flu no amount of money can get us ‘better treatment’. And that is why we are so scared. The first death was of a young girl from a business class family, studying in a private school and being treated in one of the most expensive private hospitals in the city. The very fact that none of these factors could prevent her imminent death was slap in our faces. Resigned to have to access treatment from government hospitals we have been quick to form long queues, and then have cribbed at the loop holes in the system. It indeed is a sad reflection on society that public hospitals are being made scape goats, despite the fact that the doctors, nurses, ward boys and thousand of other staff members have been working indefatigably at risk to themselves.

In India and the world over there are activist groups, citizens and NGO’s who are fighting tooth and nail to ensure that we have a fair, just, equitable health care system in place. Right from demanding basic amenities like a clean toilet, or a bed for patients to sleep on to challenging larger systemic corruption-there are people fighting for change. And then there are us sleeping millions who prefer to turn a blind eye to these issues and carry on in our own little bubbles. And still we expect change? We expect an already over-burdened public health system to have enough resources to handle an epidemic? What right do we have to make such demands? Simply paying taxes is not reason enough. This is our country, our world. Until we start looking at each other as fellow human beings, until we start feeling the sorrow of another, until we begin questioning injustice—even if it is meted out to another, and until we actually feel it is our duty to stand up and fight for another persons rights—we ourselves have no right to demand change.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Material for two good articles is muddled by combining them

I think the author should have written two separate articles, one about swine flu and one about rape.

Article one would have been a discussion of whether the population and government of the United States are overreacting to the threat of swine flu.

Article two would have pointed out that sexual assault (among both men and women) is more common than many people realize.

In its current form, the article just doesn't work. (Just my opinion, of course). What is learned by comparing two completely dissimilar threats? You're comparing a crime with an infectious disease.

Flu victims are contagious. Rape victims are not. Obviously the scientific community should respond to the swine flu threat.

The earlier the better because diseases *spread*.

There won't be a hundred million rapes in America this year, but there *could* be a hundred million flu infections (resulting in more than 10,000 deaths).

The article has some bizarre passages. For instance:

"I imagine the federal government urging colleges to stop the epidemic of rape by developing protocols for quarantining students who have tried to use drugs or alcohol to incapacitate women who would otherwise not consent to sex."

You imagine?

The quarantine already exists. It's called prison.

Does anyone really believe colleges don't expel known rapists and the police don't bother to arrest known sex offenders?

(A) A disease may be a greater threat than crime because it's contagious.
(B) Disease is a simpler concept. With a crime you have to prove who did it, and even before that you have to prove that a crime even happened.

There are no questions of guilt or innocence in the case of disease.

I'm not sure what we're meant to take away from this article. There's just no anti-rape strategy to be extrapolated from the anti-flu program.

If prison is a quarantine

If prison is a quarantine for rape then how do you explain the prevalence of rape in prisons??? Would it not stop the rape from spreading when quarantined? Also that's assuming that the state will do what they should about the rape and not victim blame or throw the case out.

david, in fact, colleges do

david,

in fact, colleges do their best not to get involved with rape cases, and some hair-raising things go on when they do. in a college investigation, i've seen a male faculty colleague testify for an accused rapist 'because he's really a good kid and she must be lying.' this was 'testimony' given with absolutely no knowledge of the case, of course. the faculty member just has a high opinion of his own ability to read minds.

in another case that i know of, a rapist was found guilty by a campus court and expelled. yet he was allowed to come back to go through graduation exercises with his class, although he hadn't attended the college for two years, and despite the fact that his victim was in the graduating class, too. the college claimed the rapist's lawyer forced them into this position, which may be true but was certainly unfair to the victim.

college women need to know not to go to a campus counselor if they are raped. go to an emergency room and insist that a rape kit be done. report the rape to police, not campus authorities. do not count on the college to protect your rights or prosecute the rapist. the college may be on your side, but don't count on it. go through the real court system, not the college pretend court system.

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nice here ,thank you for sharing .

Brilliant! It had to be

Brilliant!

It had to be said, and you did it beautifully!

Thank you!!! I have been

Thank you!!! I have been researching the resources that are readily available, particularly for younger women, about what constitutes sexual assault, what precautions to take (aside from not being in a dangerous place at a dangerous time with provocative clothing on), what to do in the event that it happens, and what the options are for HIV and pregnancy prevention as well as being tested and treatment for other STI's... Well let me tell you that information in Quebec does not exist, add to that we no longer fund sexual education in public schools and you have a lot of people without access to the information they need. Sure at about tenth grade if the school chooses they may get the police in to give a short lecture about sexual assault, but that is not young enough, and rarely does it happen at all. Self defense should be a mandatory physical education class, sexual education should be mandatory, non judgmental, and comprehensive, but instead it is perfectly acceptable for young women to not even be aware of what sexual assault is or what they should do if it happens... Rape must be highly inconvenient for everyone.

Right on!

Meg--

Thank you so much for your article. It is truly disappointing that rape has been accepted as a part of our society and is not looked at as an issue of public health, like H1N1. Lack of media coverage and attention to sexual violence continue to contribute to marginalization of women in our society and the acceptance of this act as an unfortunate "norm".

Although I suspect the statistics are much more grave, estimates have indicated that one in six women in the US is a victim of sexual violence, a ratio that is likely higher in other places of the world. No doubt, the lives of women are destroyed by the acts of sexual violence. The women effected have to live with the results of the traumatic event long past its infliction. The rape and its devastating results most certainly point to a pandemic--one, that like others, can be prevented with proper education, prevention, and most importantly coverage of the issue. You are the beginning!

awesome.

this just explained what i have been feeling, but had been unable to articulate.

my one objection to your article: i would love as much as any other feminist and sexual assault educator for the government to sink some time and energy into prevetion and education work... but i think we both know that it likely wouldnt look like

"developing protocols for quarantining students who have tried to use drugs or alcohol to incapacitate women who would otherwise not consent to sex. Or university officials directing students to stay off campus or out of public areas until they are free of the belief that they are entitled to sex any time they want for a full 24 hours"

more like mandatory self defense classes for women where they are encouraged to not drink or go out or dress how they want, or claim any freedom at all about their bodies; the complete denial of the existence of sexual assault again people who dont fit neatly (or at all) into the category "women"; maybe a bit of scolding young men and chanting "no means no" without addressing the (seldom asked) question that this "no" is supposed to be responding to.

whoops i got ranty.

thanks for writing this!!

Yes. Thank you.

Wow. This is a really great point.

Oh god this is brilliant.

Oh god this is brilliant. I'm a nurse in a busy Emergency dept and I wish that people who suspected they'd been raped would come in half as much as they suspected they had frickin swine flu. Sadly most people who suspect swine flu- its a cold, for rape, they're probs right.

Reading your article, its

Reading your article, its like you were reading my own thoughts. I was assaulted last month, and have since moved to a different city. Unfortunately, no one seems to know how to do their job here. I keep getting referred to the same people, who then refer me someone else, and so on. Today alone I called 8 different numbers, including an Urgent Care, the Health Department, the Sheriffs office, a crisis center, a Planned Parenthood, a local hospital, and RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.) Not one person that I spoke with was able to give me any information on where I can go to seek treatment after the initial ER visit. Not to mention sitting in the ER that night for 3 hours before being transported to the correct hospital to be examined, where I then sat for another 2 hours before I was even seen. Statistics aside, after my experience-as I am sure there are many cases out there like mine, I am convinced that awareness needs to be raised and a stronger support system created. The only ones aware should not be the victims themselves.

The more I think about this

The more I think about this problem--about women as simply bodies, and someone else's desire to "get some" nullifying a person (man, or woman...but usually men...) makes me angrier and angrier. And I do understand your feelings, but it seems to me as long as the rape isn't a transmitted disease the government will never pay the appropriate attention to it.
I wonder if our sex ed program includes the themes concerning sexual assault?

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