For those of you who have not heard about the recent fracas that erupded down under, this article will make galling reading. Obviously, it’s disgraceful that a top cleric is promoting sexual assault.
Nevertheless, the focus on such views being a muslim issue is worrying. It is a soapbox for every racist who couldn’t otherwise give a rat’s about marital rape to climb on, and certain politicians and publications are gleefully capitalizing on that.
What nobody is saying is that many people, clerics, judges and otherwise from ALL walks of life see nothing wrong with marital rape. These views are not the province of a certain ethnicity, but are unfortunately entrenched everywhere.
Many women and girls remain silent about sexual assault in past relationships. There are many reasons for this. Often they are ashamed, under threat, or, because of myths which state that the only real rape is stranger rape, they feel that they can’t call it rape.
Even when they become aware at some levels that what happened was rape, they may feel embarrassed about coming out perhaps a long time after the fact and saying that an ex-partner raped them. Social responses cast a very jaundiced view upon women who “change their minds” afterwards and belatedly “cry rape.” Often, the target of invective is feminists who allegedly “encourage” women to label non-rape experiences as rape. Women comment that they “”feel like liars” in calling partner rape by its name. But this is not because they are liars – the truth has been stifled under fear, trauma, and whatever they may have internalized about what is real rape.
For many survivors of partner rape, it is essential that they “change their minds” in order to heal. No matter how many times they went back, no matter how long they kept it secret or why, it still happened. If you have had the weight of social myth stacked against you so that you were confused about whether you can call a rape a rape or not, and you have now decided to give what happened its name, that is a step towards victory.