Or Else!

Yesterday our local paper printed a piece on the fact that the CDC discovered that nearly 1 in 5 high school females in Indiana have been raped.

“I was shocked at the 9-through-12 rate,” Heiman said. “And this is an area where the data are really clear. The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) have different definitions for various kinds of sexual assault. But this isn’t ogling at somebody. This is unwanted intercourse. This is rape.”

Of Indiana females of high school age, 17.3 percent reported forced sexual intercourse in the CDC study, compared with the national average of 10.5 percent.

On the whole 20.4 percent of women in Indiana have been raped with over 40 percent having experienced sexual violence.

Note that these are “reported” statistics and it’s always assumed in these researches that the facts are actually under-reported.

That piece also reported this fact:

Adding to the problem for researchers and Hoosier women is the fact that Indiana is one of just three states (along with Mississippi and New Mexico) that do not require law enforcement agencies to report sexual violence (“any sexual act that is performed against someone’s will”) to the FBI.

Which, I imagine, led the Editors of the newspaper to print this opinion piece today, “Indiana’s rape statistics should be at the top of legislative agenda“:

A new report by Indiana University researchers has handed the state Legislature an issue of vital importance to all Hoosiers. Its findings: Indiana females in grades 9-12 have the second-highest rate of being raped when compared to other states….

This is not just a problem for the General Assembly, of course. Still, that body should take on the most important issues facing the people of Indiana, and this certainly is one of them.

Priority No. 1 for the 2013 session should be making Indiana’s teenage girls safer from being raped.

The state must bring together bright minds to develop a strategy. It needs to address the perpetrators of these crimes — young males. It needs to make sure young women know their rights as well as techniques for fending off unwanted advances. It needs to involve parents, teachers, religious leaders, law enforcement, youth-serving agencies and teens themselves….

While the Legislature does need to make this a priority, local communities must not wait for the state leaders. They must begin to work on solutions of their own.

Another of the report’s authors, IU professor Jonathan Plucker, summarized the situation well: “When your statistics are as bad as the state of Indiana’s are for women being the victims of sexual violence, there’s no way around the fact that Indiana has a problem we need to take very seriously.”

The Right to Be Safe should be at the head of the legislative agenda next session.

About which I offered this comment at the online article:

While we all agree that this is awful it is not going to work to be aggressively draconian via our social and legal systems. More police state tactics equal more fear, more resentment, less trust and less respect.  We are reaping the fruits of a disconnected capital economy and militarized/techoncentric way of living. People are not distinct, dignified beings any longer. Just a picture, just a visual object.

We preach competition and might in our every image–it matters not a bit that we speak against it. We do not stand against it; we do not stand against the ways of living that are continuing to foster this kind of mind.

The paper allows a reader to offer a “positive” response on a comment or a “negative” response by a click and a tally of this is kept.  So far the above comment has garnered a tally of minus 6.  I have no way of knowing if there were any positive clicks to go along with the negative ones.

Here is a comment that has gotten, so far, a positive 5:

“Just say No” doesn’t work. Parents and teachers must include respect in sex education, but also teach what leads to unacceptable hostile acts toward women. It isn’t “macho” and it isn’t funny and it isn’t a sport. This is clearly a male problem that needs a full court press. Something is very wrong with the message young men are getting (assuming the typical rapist is under 35.)

I don’t know quite what to make of this.  I am positive a legislative agenda that attempts to make law enforcement more empowered and responsible for the human community is the exact wrong thing to suggest.

I am further positive that the decades-long barrage of dominance imagery and violence imagery and hero imagery perpetrated on the population in every way possible bears a certain amount of blame.  Further that the culture that sells sex and dominance should not be surprised when the members of that culture make that fantasy into a reality as a matter of course.

Read More: “IU CEEP report documents significant sexual violence problem in Indiana, focuses on need for prevention” (includes a link to the CEEP report, pdf)

photo credit: karen horton’s photostream

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Douglas Storm is a host and producer for Interchange on Bloomington, Indiana's community radio station WFHB. "Why then do you try to 'enlarge' your mind? Subtilize it..."

One Response to “Indiana Rape Statistics” Subscribe

  1. Anon. April 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Ummm, yes. What you said: “I am further positive that the decades-long barrage of dominance imagery and violence imagery and hero imagery perpetrated on the population in every way possible bears a certain amount of blame. Further that the culture that sells sex and dominance should not be surprised when the members of that culture make that fantasy into a reality as a matter of course.”

    To imagine rape as something preventable by law enforcement is ridiculous. We are a culture that promotes impulse and pornography. Don’t even get me started on the messages we send to teenage girls about sexuality, self-identity, and relationships.

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