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97% Of Women Were Victims Of Sexual Assault And We Need To Talk About It.

It is no surprise that being a woman is tough. It is hard trying to live in a man’s world. Having a life while needing to battle sexism, misogyny, the male gaze, the age gap, and abuse from men overall daily, is not easy. And though everyone is different, women relate to other women effortlessly because we know how it is, how it feels to be a woman, how much it pains to be one.

Though sometimes, we get attention, men listen. They try to understand and to be good allies, but the truth is they never will. They think abuse is an isolated event, that assault is only one problematic man that occasionally hurts a few women, I mean, it’s not that serious, right? Well, wrong!

 

The 97%

According to the 2021 United Nations Women study, 97% of women aged 18-24 were victims of sexual assault. And 71% of women of all ages have been assaulted at least once in a public place. The study collected data from over a thousand women in the United Kingdom.

And usually, after listening poorly, some people will respond “But men get raped too”. They are right, men do get assaulted. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey stated in 2010 that, in the United States, 93% of sexual assault cases against men were caused by male offenders. Making 78% of all reported assaults being perpetrated by men.


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The UN study gained attention after the Sarah Everard case. On March 3rd, 2021, the 33-year-old English woman disappeared while coming home from a friend’s house. She later was found dead in a park. Sarah was just a normal girl, walking home, late and alone. The case shocked everyone, not only in the UK. Her murder caused pain on those who knew her, but it also moved every woman across the globe, because, since she was kidnaped and assassinated out of random, it could have been anyone.

After her disappearance, the police advised women to “not go out alone”, which only caused more controversy. The police’s statement solely reflected on society’s views. They alert and teach that if women are not careful enough, they are going to be assaulted and murdered, and that’s on them, it is their fault. Instead of teaching men to be respectful, they say “if you don’t want to be raped, you shouldn’t do that”, “you are asking for it”, which just translates to: if you are a woman unless you want to get killed, you cannot live your life.

 

Not All Men” 

At times, to silence women, men will say “not all men”, as in not all men are bad, not all men are rapists. The thing is, how come not all men are abusers, but every woman is abused? How come 97% of women are victims of sexual assault, yet you don’t know a single rapist? Something is not adding up. 


Original Illustration Created in Canva for Her Campus Media

So, let me be clearer. If you are in a room with 10 women, ages 18 to 24, nine of them have been sexually assaulted. Nine of them have been raped or touched without their consent. All in public, meaning, these men not only violated and humiliated these young women but did not care at all about being caught and seen. These aggressors see women purely as an object, a piece of merchandise, a sexual conquest. They don’t care about being caught because they don’t think that the others around, or the police will care either because to most of them, it is not a big deal. In their minds, it is a “he who casts the first stone” situation, when in reality, it’s a severe crime.

It is simply not true that all men are assaulters. No one actually believes that. But women need to be careful around all men because they don’t know which ones are good and which ones are bad. Most women have to learn how to defend themselves in case something happens, being walking with your keys between your knuckles, having pepper spray, or carrying a whistle, it’s purely precaution. Not every person is a robber, but everyone still locks their doors to be safe. Most people fear sharks, even though they were never attacked by one, or know someone that has been.

 

A Men’s World?

In the United States, one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives, as reported by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center in 2012. One in five. You certainly know five women. Your mom, your sister, your aunt, your friend, your teacher, one of them is a survivor. And therefore, if you are a woman, and you aren’t already, you will probably be a victim of sexual assault. At this point, it’s not bad fortune, it’s math. 


people holding signs at a protest for women's rights
Photo by Michelle Ding from Unsplash

If you are a woman, good luck! Because you can be strong and fearless all you can, but the truth is being a woman is exhausting, it’s a full-time job, you always need to have your guard up. You need to be friendly so men won’t think you’re unpleasant and threatening and assault you, but you also can’t be too friendly, or men will think you’re hitting on them and so will try to sleep with you even if you don’t want to, and sexually assault you again. If you are a woman, you can’t walk alone, or run at night, not without fear. If you are a woman, you can’t drink too much, because anyone can try to take advantage of you at any time.

Yet, with all the safety precautions, and tricks you learned to defend yourself, you are not part of the 3%. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, if you are a woman, you are subject to this risk. You can fight and run and escape, but sometimes it is not enough, and you can’t prevent it, because you are not a man, they don’t respect you, and this is after all a man’s world.

And that’s precisely why we need to talk about it, about it all: microaggressions, sexual assault, sexism, and violence directed towards women and female-aligned people. Because, to demand to be heard, to choose not to ignore these struggles, and instead to acknowledge them and fight for them to change — that’s where resistance begins. 

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The article above was edited by Isabella Gemignani.

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Beatriz Kawai

Casper Libero '24

A journalism student in love with feminism, art, movies, music and sometimes politics
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