It's the world that has to change, not women

NOVEMBER 15 — October was a rough month for sexual assault victims, particularly women. While the increased awareness about the prevalence of these abuses is a good thing, it comes with the sad side-effect of many victims having to revisit their pain.

It annoys me when people suggest such “band-aid” measures as women taking self-defence classes. The reality is that such suggestions put too much onus on the victims.

“If women learned to defend themselves, they'd get assaulted less often.”

Statements like that ignore the statistics ― that rapists are often people known to victims and rape victims are of all ages, cultures and physical conditions.

Reading the #metoo tags will unearth story after story of cases where women were assaulted by fathers, brothers, boyfriends, husbands, bosses, colleagues.

Not some stranger hiding in a bush waiting for women who didn't know kung-fu.

It is again, this terribly simplistic notion that there are “good guys” and “bad guys.”

Life isn't a cowboy movie.

Do we tell men to learn self-defence in case they get mugged as often as we tell women to learn self-defence so they won't get raped?

This magical thinking that all you need to do is learn the skills and you will ward off attackers with ease is also simplistic.

It's no different than the gun lobby spiel that everyone deserves guns for “self-protection.”

The bigger picture is that the world is broken. But it's easier to sell people guns and lull them with stories of self-empowerment than to fix a broken world.

October mattered because for once, people could see for themselves, just how many women have experienced assault. It's different when the victims are people you know and it brings it so much closer to home when you realise that it really can happen to anyone.

What needs to be fixed is attitudes towards sexual assault and harassment ― victims need to be made to feel safe instead of blamed or asked why they didn't try harder to protect themselves.

It's not about making women stronger ― women have always been strong. it is the world that needs to make way, to adjust itself to the notion that crimes against women are crimes against humanity. And can never be tolerated.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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