Two teenagers were convicted of rape in Steubenville, Ohio, on March 19. They drugged and raped one of their classmates in August 2012. Their conviction was certain, at least in the court of public opinion, after a hacker group called KnightSec released video depicting a friend and former classmate joking about what he’d seen on the night of the incident. The now-convicted rapists felt they were untouchable, going so far as to call themselves a “rape squad.”
But why should people in Socorro care about a pair of teenaged rapists in Ohio?
We should care because of how the media looked at them before their conviction. CNN talked about what was being done to the accused teens, not what they might have done, and certainly not what they did in the video. CNN talked about how the victim had been drinking — their only focus on her. National news sources treated the rapists as victims and either blamed or ignored the real victim.
We should care because, according to a Yahoo! News source, the case would have been “swept under the rug” had video of a local college student joking about the matter not gone viral. Steubenville, collectively, didn’t want to deal with two of its young and hopeful committing a heinous crime. A city would have ignored the rule of law had a nation not intervened.
We should care because we can prevent this from happening here. We can prevent rape because rape is not the fault of a teenaged girl who went to a party and drank. Rape is not the fault of a city that wanted to protect what it perceived as “good boys.” Rape is not the fault of a news network that went for emotionally-driven coverage but took the side of accused rapists.
Rape is the fault of rapists. To prevent rape, don’t rape.
If a two-word solution just seems too simple, this might help. Recently, a Scottish organization called Rape Crisis Scotland published a poster titled “10 Top Tips to End Rape.” They are listed as follows:
1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.
2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.
4. If you are in a lift (elevator) and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.
5. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.
6. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
7. Don’t forget: It’s not sex with someone who’s asleep or unconscious – it’s RAPE!
8. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “by accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can call for help.
9. Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. If you have every intention of having sex later on with the woman you’re dating regardless of how she feels about it, tell her directly that there is every chance you will rape her. If you don’t communicate your intentions, she may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her and inadvertently feel safe.
10. Don’t rape.
I’d make a few small changes to the list: It’s a crime to put drugs in anybody’s drink without their permission. Similarly, don’t rape or assault anyone who is in need of car repair, is getting on an elevator, or has left a door or window unlocked. However, these are great tips for everybody to keep in mind and implement in order to help prevent rape.
Parents should talk to their children about what they can do to help prevent rape in school, as well. “How old is old enough” is a question to which the answer changes for every parent, but remember — one of the Steubenville rapists was only 16 when he committed that crime. The “birds and bees” conversation needs to include consent as well as safety and responsibility.
For more information on what you can do to help prevent rape in your community, go to www.notever.co.uk. And remember, the best way to prevent rape in your community is to not rape.