Category Archives: Sexual assault

Punishing Rape with More Rape? DRC Trauma Stories

Last week, Lauren Wolfe of Women Under Siege wrote about the rape and violence of everyday life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This violence is tearing families apart. Men, women, and children are caught in the horrors of war and the men are fighting for a sense of control. Husbands of women who have been raped often choose to leave their wives because these women have “lost their value.” 43% of men surveyed thought men whose wives had been raped should leave. Those women whose husbands choose to stay are often beaten or raped again. More than half of these men reported perpetuating some form of violence against their wives. Rape among civilians has increased 17-fold and violence, trauma, hunger, and poverty are rampant and studies have found that men are dealing with the trauma by inflicting more violence, usually on their wives and children. Researchers state that “Family has become the battlefield where men try to regain control and power that is lost elsewhere in life.”  Lindsay Cortwright

Living Peace is an organization that is trying to promote community support for families that have experienced trauma because of the war and giving hope to these scarred communities. You can read the full article here.

University Of North Carolina Routinely Violates Sexual Assault Survivor Rights, Students Claim

There are two articles I found pertaining to this issue. The Huff Post article goes into detail about how UNC is violating all sorts of laws. The first victim Andrea Pino suffered from PTSD after being assaulted at a party, and the school refused to let her withdraw medically.

Landen Gambill reported to the honor court that her abusive ex-boyfriend was stalking her. She had to tell the court intimate details about the relationship, and the court then sent all of the information to her parents, whom she had not told and in direct violation of the law. According to the yahoo news article the school is now charging Landen with an honor court violation for speaking out on social media about how she was basically ignored.

Pino, Gambill, and Annie Clark along with 64 other sexual assault victims are filing a formal complaint saying the university violated the sexual assault victims bill of rights, clery act, FERPA, title IX, the civil rights act, and the Americans with disabilities act.

I would like to know why the honor court was handling sexual assault cases in the first place? This is a criminal matter and the university police should be handling, not ill-equipped students with no knowledge of the law or victim counseling. These articles reminded me of the chapters about rape kits, and sexual assault in the book. Why do we continue to blame the victim, protect the abuser, file charges against the victim for speaking out, and ignore the larger issue of sexual assaults on college campuses? Maybe this will be a wake up call for other colleges and universities in the UNC system, and nationwide to take a stand against sexual assault and other violence against women on their campuses.

India Rape Ordinance Blasted by Female Activists




Based on the deadly gang rape the president added an anti-rape ordinance into law. Protesters are furious because they say it was crafted without any input and falls short of bringing perpetrators to justice. The outcry is also due to the perceived dismissal of the recommendations made by the Verma committee’s report. The finance minister did say that the ordinance would speed up the trial of those accused in the gang rape. One positive move was when the Supreme Court is considering a measure to lower the age of adult from 18-16, therefore, those that are found guilty of sexual assaults will face time in prison.

Update on Violence Against Women Act

Since the Violence Against Women Act, VAWA, was mentioned during our first class period, I thought it would be good to get an update on the challenges facing Congress as well as identify the main issues with VAWA.

Mona el-Tahawy on Lack of Women’s Progress and the Firestorm that followed

Here is an article that appeared in Foreign Policy, which sent Twitter, FB, and all forms of social media buzzing:,0 discussing “the real war on women.”

For an example of a response, see

Mass Rape in War: History’s Forgotten Victims

Lena Jones

As George Santayana famously quoted in his book Reason and Common Sense, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” These words foreshadow a sad and sickening future for women and girls of all walks of life in every corner of the globe. Mass rape in warfare has been an ongoing problem since the beginning of human history. Evidence suggests that there were mass rapes during the Trojan War and the First Crusade as well as from the American Revolution through World War II and in subsequent political actions since, including, Vietnam, Bosnia, Rwanda, and even the War on Terror of today. Approximately 130,000 women and girls were victims of repeated rapes committed by Soviet soldiers in Berlin following the liberation in WWII. In 1993, the number of victims of war rape in the Bosnian conflict was estimated to be between 20,000 and 50,000. The following year in Rwanda saw between 250,000 and 500,000 women and girls suffer brutal and systematic rapes during the ethnic war between the Tutsi and Hutu. These numbers are staggering, and yet I did not learn about any of these statistics until I began graduate school – why is that? Why is an issue that directly affects half the world population (women) and indirectly affects the other half (everyone has a mother!) not deemed important enough to grace the pages of our history books, or to be taught to our children a long side Abraham Lincoln and the Battle of the Alamo?

There seems to be a solid consensus regarding the magnitude of this problem among the Women’s Studies and Feminist academic communities, which leads me to question the reasoning behind history’s continued deletion of these atrocities from its pages. Why do these awful things keep happening to women, and on such a large scale? And why does no one seem to care? Why is it not worthy of our attention? Why aren’t women important? If we cannot even begin to acknowledge the magnitude at which these atrocities occur, then what hope do we have as a species to ever assuage the problem? Unfortunately, these traumatic experiences of women in armed conflicts throughout the ages are practically the same, which necessitates a consideration the underlying causes of the continued sexual torture of women in wartime. Two theoretical explanations predominate: that of the socialization of traditional masculine values and rape as a military tactic. If causal factors such as these are indeed to blame, then what can possibly be done to stop it? And furthermore, why are these widespread atrocities continually deleted from the pages of history?

The socialization of hyper-masculine traits in men is suggested to be a direct causal factor in both rape and war, and cultures which are more frequently engaged in armed conflict also have higher instances of sexual violence against women, including during peacetime. Widespread sexual violence in warfare is seen by many to be a strategic military tactic. Women are often viewed as the stitching that holds their community together, be it through the passing down of traditions and cultures or simply through the act of reproduction. With violent prone men engaged in armed conflict against an “enemy” population, it is not difficult to see how mass rape could be utilized in such a nefarious way…but why the omission from history? I believe that as a patriarchal society (and others, as well) that we do not hold women in the esteem that validates their experiences (or their importance as a woman) as being worthy of our attention, especially when there is a “bigger” issue at play – namely the war itself.

I call to action every government of every country, every media entity, every teacher and every person everywhere to stand up and say: “Yes, this has happened, and this has continued to happen, but we will not stand for it to happen anymore.” Until we take personal responsibility for ensuring an end to the atrocities that these women have and continue to suffer, we are condemned to condone and repeat them. The subject of mass and systematic war-rape is worthy of public discourse and discussion in every history classroom (not just academics that focus on women’s issues), but any and every history class. These outrages are a part of our history, and should not continue to be ignored. To do so will only condemn generations of women to this same fate, as well as to continue to disavow and discount the experiences of those in the past.


Lenna Jones is a first year graduate student at East Carolina University in the departments of Sociology and Women’s Studies. She received her BS degree in Criminal Justice from ECU in 2010. Lenna’s research interests are in rape myth acceptance and the criminal justice system, and is currently working on her thesis which is looking at the relationship between police officer education and the attrition of sexual assault cases at the investigative stages.


Access to Toilet Without Rape: Basic Right?

This article examines how public toilets and latrines in slums in Kenya are not only hazardous due to their unsanitary conditions, but also because the women who use them are very often raped in the process. Many times women go to use the facilities and are attacked and raped, often brutally and by multiple offenders. One women interviewed in this article even contracted HIV from her assault. The article discusses how some humanitarian groups have been trying to invent new ways for women to be able to relieve themselves in safety, but also without creating further public health hazards. A Dutch inventor has created a kind of bag that turns human waste into compost after a few, alleviating the problem of human waste being thrown from the houses where these women are very literally imprisoned in order to remain safe. It leaves to question…is even having access to a toilet a basic human right? Apparently not for women. Lena Jones

VP Biden Gives Emotional Speech About Sexual Violence Against Women

I had the opportunity the other morning to catch Vice President Joe Biden’s speech live on the internet regarding sexual violence against women, especially on our college campuses. He gave a very emotional appeal regarding how universities often treat the issue, and plead openly with the young men in the audience and all over the country to learn to respect women and to learn that “no means no”…no matter what. He gave several emotional examples of young women who were survivors of sexual assault, and how they faced second victimization from their friends, families, schools and society. He implored that violence against women in this country (as well as all over the world) is, and has been, at endemic levels, and that for too long it has been regarded as a “personal” issue that should be handled within the family, and how women and girls who are sexually assaulted are too often blamed for what has happened, especially in the court system. He discussed President Obama’s The White House’s Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and how it will continue to do great things if given the chance. I am extremely thankful that Biden gave this speech and gave it the emotional pull that this issue desperately needs, especially within the government.

Colleges, Universities Told to Do More to Prevent Sexual Assaults

The issue of sexual assault on college campuses has come to the forefront recently, as Vice President Joe Biden took to the airwaves to discuss the issue last week.  As many who are involved in this blog know, my research is dedicated to this topic – so of course I find it heartening to see so much attention brought to the topic. The attached link is from NPR, and gives the overview of the Obama administration’s view on the problem of sexual assault on college campuses. While they offer no new legislative points, they encourage universities to develop transparent and easily accessible guidelines for action, which is one of the major barriers in regards to victims seeking help. Of particular importance is the encouragement of the involvement of ALL college students, male and female, in bystander education, as there is mounting research that shows that the most successful advocacy programs have a strong male-focused component.

1 2 3