According to the law enforcement, an 18-year-old girl was allegedly raped at gunpoint by a group of five teenagers while walking through the park in Brownsville, Brooklyn with her estranged father.
According to her father, he fled the scene at the gunman’s orders and after denied access to a telephone by several local bodegas, he found police officers in a squad car and led them to the scene. But, it was too late. The group had fled and his daughter had been raped.
The alleged rapists do not deny a sexual act took place that night. However, according to them, there was no gang rape and whatever took place in the park was entirely consensual.
So many voices have spoken out to offer an account of the alleged crime however, the most critical voice — that of the victim — has been lost in a web of murky details leaving the public with more questions than answers.
Sadly, the silencing of victims of sexual assault is the chronic symptom of an archaic ideology that exploits and abuses female sexuality. These patriarchal patterns of thinking perpetuate the notion that a woman’s body does not belong to her and reinforces a culture of rape where sexual violence is trivialized and a woman can find herself on trial for her own rape.
“Individuals often talk about the woman,” New York City councilwoman Lauren Cumbo told CNN in response to the Brownsville case. “They rarely talk about the individuals who committed the rape.”
Such was the case, last month during the trial of former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw for 36 counts of sexual battery, rape and other offenses. Not only did the 13 alleged victims who took the stand find their personal histories presented as evidence against them in court, they found their characters being questioned in the court of public opinion.
— Tom George (@TheTomGeorge) December 7, 2015
Defense attorney: “The witnesses you saw in this courtroom don’t care about the truth. They want to forward their own agenda.” @NewsOK
— Kyle Schwab (@SchwabKyle) December 7, 2015
Some of the women offered brave, albethey brief, statements to the press in the days after Holtzclaw was found guilty on 18 counts and sentenced to 263 years in prison. Still, less than a month after the media circus surrounding the case, the women have retreated back into relative anonymity. Their voices have once again been silenced and their stories have been buried deep in the archives of the blogosphere.
Literary legend and sexual assault survivor, Maya Angelou once said that “there is no greater agony than an untold story inside you.” With up to 96% percent of all rapes never reported to the authorities , countless survivors find themselves in excruciating emotional and psychological pain. Until we create a culture that respects the female body with the same voracity that scrutinizes it, these women will never be taken out of their misery.
There’s a chorus of voices just waiting to be heard. All we have to do is listen.