By Garth A. Rattray
Anyone who commits rape, especially with violence, with a weapon or with the threat of violence, is lower than the lowest of slime.
Rapists may be under the stupid misconception that the act gives them power and dominance. But, rape is the most abhorrent, animalistic, ugly, violent and wicked of all acts committed by the vilest of reprobates.
I revisited an article that I penned in 2003 in which I opined that we had reached a new low with the 10-man gang rape of a 14-year-old schoolgirl. But obviously, some in our society are capable of attaining hitherto unimaginable depths.
For a group of armed males to terrorise, rob and then violently and repeatedly defile five defenceless females - two adult women, two teenage girls and a little eight-year-old girl - requires heinous, brutish minds devoid of all human feelings or conscience. No real man would ever entertain the idea of raping anyone.
Rape is any sexual act without consent. Physical force and/or threats negate the possibility of giving informed consent. Children below 16 years of age, the mentally handicapped and incapacitated, or intoxicated individuals are also incapable of giving informed consent.
Only a victim can fully understand the physical distress and psychological anguish caused by rape. It was brought to the fore a few years ago when a 90-year-old female patient felt the need to share her experience with me. She had always been a strong woman (some characterised her as 'tough'), who, through discipline and hard work, was successful in life. She was raised in Jamaica and migrated to the United Kingdom where she made good for herself and her two children.
She had been retired for many years and managed her own affairs with a sharp and astute mind. No one could pull the wool over her eyes. She was known as a no-nonsense woman, yet she crumbled into a weeping, broken, anguished, emotional heap when she told me how she was raped (and impregnated) by her benefactor's chauffeur when she was only 16 years old.
Ashamed and afraid, she withdrew into a rural haven and gave birth to her first child. In spite of that horrible experience, she managed to master life, but after 74 years, the nightmarish memories and psychological pain remain vivid and searing.
Rape's lifetime scars
No rape victim escapes unscathed. The immediate, medium- and long-term effects range from widely varying degrees of physical trauma, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and serious psychological problems that permeate every sphere of the victim's life to a lesser or greater extent. The terrible experience of rape lasts for a lifetime.
It is estimated that rape is far more common than reported. Because of poverty, fear of the perpetrator, fear of exposure, lawless regions, religious idiosyncrasies, cultural mores and ongoing wars/skirmishes - depending on the reporting country/region - it is estimated that perhaps between eight and 20 per cent of women worldwide have been raped.
There is no easy answer to solving the problem of rape. However, we can start by disabusing society of the ridiculous falsehood that men are superior to women and that women are mostly sexual objects.
Rape sentences tend to range from 15 to 30 - and rarely, 40 - years but, given the recent flagrant barbarity displayed by some rapists, people would like to see longer sentences meted out to them - especially in violent cases. Since the horrible aftermath of rape lasts for a lifetime, it only seems fair and just that more convicted rapists receive the maximum sentence (of life imprisonment without parole) for their heinous act.
Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.