Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Strength of a woman shames us" By Jason Brown, Samoa Observer

Copied without permission but this piece speaks volumes of what is broken - and leaves me with more questions than answers, thank you Jason.
By now, many people have seen the video. What the video shows, in full daylight, is a sex crime but also a hate crime – a hateful display of inhumanity.
The only sane way to absorb what is seen in the video is to ignore the man and be left in awe of the sheer bravery of the girl, as she resists and fights back, again and again.
And again.
But it is not just the attack but, secondly, the video itself that is also hateful.
A third degree of hate is the fact that the man who attacked this girl, and videoed her, then uploaded that video to the internet.
Shame once, twice, three times on him.
None on her.
In fact, shame on him and men who think like him for every time someone views that video.
Viewed it first, from the internet, and then, after it was deleted, passed from phone to phone, wirelessly, and computer to computer.
Utter, despicable shame.
Perhaps the man’s life was already full of shame.
Studies and research overseas shows that many abusers have, once upon a time, been themselves abused.
Maybe he was once scared and pleading, like she, eventually, was in the video, beaten and sexually assaulted.
As a child.
Or as a man.
Or, maybe, there are no excuses, no cause, other than that this man is merely, unaccountably evil.
The man said to have attacked the teenage girl appeared in court last week, more than two months after he allegedly uploaded the video to the internet.
That his arrest took so long is no reflection on our police because life is not a Hollywood movie, where everything happens in an hour and a half.
In fact, compared with the huge “Roast Busters” controversy washing over police in New Zealand after they sat on a rape complaint for two years, despite the attackers boasting about it and other attacks online, Samoa police have moved with lightning speed.
Here, the man accused of the crime in the video is pleading not guilty.
In cases like these, however, it is hard to imagine a victim blaming just anyone who comes along.
What this particular case exposes, aside from a shameful and loathsome man, is the need for the law in Samoa to be updated to include online breaches of privacy.
The fact that such an update is not yet planned in no way reflects badly on government, and its hard working Law Reform Commission.
Who could anticipate such an extreme event?
Nor does it reflect on the police, who were understandably frustrated at not having more laws to throw at the accused.
What this case also exposes is, perhaps, the need for authorities here to watch overseas trends more closely, and suggest ways such trends might be anticipated.
In the meantime, we can all ponder the fact that, while the online video makes this particular incident of crime modern, the crime itself is ancient.
And that many world cultures exult depictions of male violence, on a daily basis, while blaming women for original sin.
Such seems to be another recent case when a village voted to banish a 13 year old girl, but not the four boys she slept with. Or, more accurately by law, was raped by.
This blaming the victim is part of a disgusting “epidemic” of sexual violence against girls referred to by Justice Vui Clarence Nelson of the Supreme Court.
That was the word he used, sentencing a 75 year old man who twice molested a 16 year old girl as she brought him food from next door.
What makes men think they have the right to abduct, abuse, assault and rape girls? Who sets the moral climate? Look no further than the churches.
Many church leaders are aware of the power of their words, and use them to do good.
Some church leaders however might want to ponder in prayer about the way they pound their pulpits, and where they lay blame for moral problems, and whether that in any way creates an environment, mistakenly or otherwise, that encourages physical abuse.
The man in the video that we are talking about clearly feels that the woman he is attacking is shameful and deserves not just punishment but exposure.
Where did that attitude come from?
Trauma?
Teaching?
Both?
Or lifetimes of fire and brimstone sermons based on a book where harlotry is vilified, Sunday after Sunday, but no word exists for the same thing in men?
What makes this attack remarkable is not that a man did it but that we see it, in all its male arrogance, chauvinism and smug superiority.
The video is a reminder of the awful anger and terror that all too many women have been made to feel.
Perhaps, for once in his life, the man felt powerful.
Not knowing that, in every single second, the only weakness he exposed was his own.
And, even if she did not know it, and knows it not still, the awesome strength of a woman.

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