Believe, Dammit!

Recently a story was put up on Talk, dammit!, which is a Facebook run initiative to promote dialogue about rape and harassment in conservative societies like ours. The survivor told her story about getting raped by her father, and was unbelievably courageous to not hide her identity. Later, some family members and friends claimed that the girl is a schizophrenic, compulsive liar. As a result of threats and claims, the story was taken down. The admin decided to take down the Facebook page, for a while too, so he could review the processing of such cases.
The credibility of this story is one issue but the entire course of publishing of Ruwa's story and then removing it really put things into perspective and laid down rape culture exactly as it is.
When a rape survivor speaks up, people will suddenly feel the responsibility to approve or disapprove of an individual. They will come to character assassinate and shamelessly scrutinize the person thoroughly. Not only do they refuse to believe a survivor, they will also creatively discredit the story in various ways. There will be an endless series of false allegations that will suddenly loom large as to why the survivor claimed the story, spoke up against the abuser, etc. Since the rapists are usually not strangers, the abuser and the people close to them will team up to blame the victim and not let there be any harm caused to their own honor. Moreover, there will be the spectrum of questions about the credibility of platform or person who enables the story to be heard. It's the easiest to hold people criminal, even for things they do in the best of interests.
Oppression in a great force. When accusations threaten the stability of an established power, the guilty brings down the accuser with accusations twice as strong. If the survivor refuses to name the culprits and speak up, they're lying. If the survivor holds someone accountable for the crime, they're just throwing dirt and bringing a bad name. Not to mention that the survivor will be called emotionally and psychologically ill in both the cases. Ultimately and without recognizing the trauma of speaking up or not speaking up, the survivor is simply invalidated and dismissed.
All of this makes it nearly impossible for the victim to formalize their claims in the court and fight their fight. In fact the lack of credibility and support doesn't let the dialogue and communication to take place at all. Now in a place like this where people refuse to hear others and turn a deaf ear to rape or harassment stories, most victims are discouraged to speak up and therefore they continue to be victimized further. This is rape culture for you. This is how rape statistics look the way they are. This is why sexual assault is so common, whether you believe it or not, and often goes unnoticed. It's happening in your house, in your streets, right under your nose. But you? You refuse to listen. You refuse to break the stigma. You consider it a taboo. You never think that it could be you, too.
I agree that everyone's innocent until proven guilty and it does make up a very strong case for the accused but let's face it: if the survivor could be lying, the survivor could also be speaking the truth. In fact there's the a greater possibility of rape stories being true than false. Statistics say so.
Despite all this and regardless of threats, against all odds, some survivors are tremendously brave enough to talk. Please believe them.

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