Another school year begins and so do the warnings for women on the UBC campus. Apparently there is yet another predator on the campus strikes when feels like it traumatizing young women while they pursue higher education. So much for studying late at night at the library. A woman’s time in university is about learning new things and expanding her horizons. It is not about being assaulted and traumatized for life.
I can tell you that sexual assault alters a woman’s life forever. As a woman who has been sexually assaulted, I can tell you the effects are there all the time. Through counselling healing can occur however, traumatic events can re-ignite old feelings. Sometimes a scent, a picture or an event can all trigger intrusive memories of the assault.
What annoys me about all of this is that it is the women who suffer. Women have to walk in twos, go to court if they are assaulted and ultimately incur the costs of doing all the work to recover from an assault. What happens to the man? Unless they are arrested for asexual assault nothing happens. Even if a man is arrested, charged and goes to court penalties for sexual assault are nowhere near in line with the costs the woman bear.
I think we need to make men pay properly for the costs of their crime. They need to go to jail for a very, very long time. Their lives need to be destroyed by their crimes. Their names need to be made public. The consequences for sexual assault need to be so steep that men would not do it. The likelihood of something like this happening is slim and none. As long as mostly white men are in charge of making the laws the chances of this happening is not very great.
We need to work together to make substantive change. We need to educate our young boys to respect women and themselves. Sexual assault must become a crime that is treated with seriousness rather than a wink and a nudge by men. Our culture continuously sexualizes women it is in our discourse, our TV shows and our popular culture. We must start to demand better.