In rural villages all over DR Congo you will find women who have been victims of rape. The stories are endless. Of how soldiers of one militia or other have used rape as a weapon of war and violence.
In the UK, in April, Brian Witty was found guilty for a series of date rapes. He had met his victims on a dating website, taken them to his flat and raped them. His crimes had been reported to the police within hours of the assaults. Each time, he had been arrested and freed. He got away with it for 16 years, because he insisted that the sexual encounters had been consensual.
In May, an Australian speedway champion was charged with sexual assault. The jury heard that he and two other men had taken a drunken woman to a hotel room, where one of the men was filming. The sexual encounter with the speedway champion involved the use of a vodka bottle and make-up tube. The third man, age 17, fled the scene because of the appearance of blood, which scared him.
It was claimed that the woman ‘enjoyed’ the experience and the defence counsel stated that, ‘Drunk consent is nonetheless consent’. The jury, who saw the video, found the man not guilty.
Reporting a sexual assault is a horrible process; it’s not something you want to embark on unless you have a deep sense of being violated.
It comes from the feeling that you have been wronged, used and abused. That your freedom and personal integrity has been impinged on by others. That you were powerless. You may have even feared for your life.
Every accusation of sexual assault has a different story. A different scenario. But in each case a woman will have had a similar experience, an inability to stop what was happening.
It is important we address the causes. And look at the attitudes of the men involved.
Whether the assaults are brutal as in DR Congo, or occur because someone has spiked your drink, there is a commonality. Someone has ignored the essence of who you are and what you really feel.
It is this lack of caring – of emotional disconnect that is at the heart of it all.
In a way, the discussions about terminology are irrelevant when we take things down to that basic level.
When a woman feels her body has not been treated with love and affection then it is a violation, no matter what the word is.
And this too goes for all forms of violence against women. Violence is always a violation.
Many people believe that the sexualisation of women in the media is to blame; the disconnect from sexuality and emotion. The belief that women are objects of gratification.
We need to go deeper. We need to look at why so many men want an excuse to separate sexuality from feeling. And look at how to address that.