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Why must activism happen AFTER the wrong act?

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Today, I read about how the Richmond High students came together, along with community members and the mayor, for an event to support the girl who was gang raped and speak out against sexism and racism which is still so pervasive in our culture.

The white streamers were everywhere – worn as armbands, headbands, neckties, leg-bands – as hundreds of Richmond High School students gathered on the football field with teachers, parents and community members to express their support for the victim of a horrendous gang rape on the school grounds and their determination to act together to prevent future violence.

The speakers spoke of “building a culture that rejects racist and sexist actions and comments and fights back against the underlying social conditions in which such attitudes flourish.” As well as mentioning how these injustices need to be faced on a daily basis, not just after “one acute problem”.

This is all great. This is all fine and dandy and in fact, it seems like a great community movement at this point and who knows, some of those Richmond High students could go on and be the next leaders in fighting social injustice. However, my question is this, why does it take one horrendously wrong act, or “acute problem”, to create activism within people?

If you think about it, many horrendous acts of sexism or racism (or any other ism) wouldn’t occur if the activism was done on a daily basis. As the mayor said at the Richmond gathering, there would be “no bystanders”. That’s the whole point, right? If activism is performed everyday and people are educated about things like sexism and racism, people will no longer be passive about what’s happening around them.

But what gets them to the point of activism? Obviously, to some extend, something has to be there already. Usually something broad, like sexism or racism. I mean, if those things didn’t already exist, we wouldn’t of had great activist leaders of our time, like Gloria Steinem and Martin Luther King Jr. However, when it comes to individual (but extremely serious) incidents, such as the gang rape in Richmond, CA, why wouldn’t people do something about this at the time it was all happening? Everyone knows that something like gang rape is wrong. I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that they thought that what they were doing was just fine, even if they might have been in an impaired state due to alcohol. Everyone has a moral compass, and gang rape is off the charts, screaming “WRONG”.

But had people not been educated enough about these things? Did these people who were bystanders, or participants think they didn’t have a voice and therefore couldn’t be against this? And how does one get a voice when it comes to injustice anyway? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but these are things that need to be addressed. We cannot just continuously wait for the next horrendous crime against a girl or woman to occur and jump on the whoa-we-need-to-fight-sexism train. This is an ongoing battle, and activism must take place before these incidents occur.

I’m not trying to knock whatever Richmond is doing right now. I think it’s good that they are collectively realizing what’s going on in our society today and will hopefully push towards a society where sexism isn’t so pervasive. However, what I am saying is that activism after the wrong act is too late. It’s too late for that 15 year-old girl. It’s too late for others who have been raped or murdered because of sexism or racism.

We all need to be collective in our actions and make sure that it’s never too late again, for anyone.

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Seventh person arrested for gang rape in Richmond, CA

November 3, 2009 1 comment

Just a little update on the gang rape case out of Richmond, CA. A 21 year-old man was arrested this morning due to suspicions of “rape, rape in concert with force and other charges that could lead to life in prison if convicted.”

Richmond Police Lt. Mark Gagan says a 21-year-old man from Richmond was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of rape, rape in concert with force and other charges that could lead to life in prison if convicted.

Also, 5 of the already arrested men and boys have been charged for their crime.

How Richmond, CA is responding to the gang rape

October 29, 2009 3 comments

I feel like this is all I’m covering at the moment, but this has become at least transnational news, if not international news. This incident has rocked a lot of people and and the Richmond community itself. Personally, I am hoping that this incident will bring a huge amount of light to the horrible situation of ALL violence against women and girls, whether that be rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse…and the list could go on. This is a serious issue. These issues deserve to be heard and need to be heard.

Here is a video of a rally in Richmond, CA.

Community rallies in wake of weekend gang rape of 15-year-old girl in Richmond, California (video)

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Four have been charged

October 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Four of the participants of the gang-rape that took place against a 15-year old girl in Richmond, CA have been charged for this despicable crime.

Manuel Ortega, 19, was charged with assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury and rape with a foreign object while acting in concert, said Dara Cashman, Contra Costa County senior deputy district attorney.

She said three minors were also charged but declined to release their names. Two of them, 15 and 17, were charged with rape with a foreign object while acting in concert. A 16-year-old was charged with robbery and rape by a foreign object while acting in concert, Cashman said.

All four suspects were also charged with special enhancements that could result in life sentences if they are convicted, according to Cashman.

Lt. Mark Gagan commented about how there is still a lot of work and possible arrests that need to be made.

Arrests made in the 15-year old rape victim case

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

CNN is reporting that five arrests have been made in this gang-rape case. Three juveniles and two adults.

However, police expect to make even more arrests, because apparently around 10 people may have gotten involved. Police explain some more sick details about the incident:

“Based on witness statements and suspect statements, and also physical evidence, we know that she was raped by at least four suspects committing multiple sex acts,” Gagan said.

“As people announced over time that this was going on, more people came to see, and some actually participated,” Gagan said.

Sick. Sick. Sick. I hope justice is served in court.

A 15-year old girl is gang-raped

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

This definitely goes under the category of horrible news of the day. This kind of stuff makes me sick and it makes me feel lots of emotion, because you know, what if you were that 15-year old girl?

She was raped outside of her high school after her homecoming dance by FIVE men (some were teenagers – I don’t know if you want to count them as men, but I digress…). The horrible thing on top of this, is that there were people who knew what was going on and no one reported it! This gang-rape went on for TWO HOURS, and yet, no one reported it, even after knowing what was going on. But of course, this is not the real issue and I don’t want to take away from it. Police explain:

“She was raped, beaten, robbed and dehumanized by several suspects who were obviously OK enough with it to behave that way in each other’s presence,” Lt. Mark Gagan said. “What makes it even more disturbing is the presence of others. People came by, saw what was happening and failed to report it.”

There is a mention of alcohol at the end of the article, citing that she and all of those guys were drinking, but the article only says that she had a large amount to drink before the rape. I really don’t want that getting in the way of anything. We don’t need any victim-blaming here!

The war against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo

January 14, 2008 Leave a comment

This absolutely breaks my heart and disgusts me so much at the same time. We know that a civil war is going on in Congo, but something we rarely hear about is the fact that women are continually and systematically raped during these kinds of conflicts. We know it’s something that happens, but we don’t like to think about and don’t bother to think about it because we feel like we can’t do anything about it. Maybe there are a few more reasons that you can come up with! But nonetheless, it’s important to know that this is going on. I’m not going to quote a lot of the gory details here, because it’s graphic, but please read the article. It’s a must.

Anneka Van Woudenberg, who is the senior Congo researcher at Human Rights Watch, explains the raping that is occurring in Congo.

I think what’s different in Congo is the scale and the systematic nature of it, indeed, as well, the brutality. This is not rape because soldiers have got bored and have nothing to do. It is a way to ensure that communities accept the power and authority of that particular armed group. This is about showing terror. This is about using it as a weapon of war.

I honestly don’t have too many words about this. It is disgusting and disheartening to know that thousands of women are becoming victims of “femicide” because of this war. But even further really, these women are having genocide committed against them. Many people simply think that killing is the only definition of genocide and just think of Hitler, but according to the UN Convention on Genocide, one of the definitions is “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.” This is clearly happening, and it’s clearly intentional.

When will this genocide end? And why is it being ignored?