By Rocio Duque
Translated by: Priscilla Flores
On the evening of Saturday, April 11th my 24 year old daughter was returning home from work when a man attacked her in Cornish avenue, Elmhurst, Queens (NY). The man (apparently Hispanic. And in this there is no racism since we are Hispanic ourselves) tried to drag my daughter by force to a construction site.
My daughter fought, shouted and fortunately was able to free herself from the man, and ran for her life. Some how she still had the entirety to call the police. When the officers arrived, my daughter explained to them what had occurred, gave them a clear description of the subject and of the direction that the man took. The police officers then said that they would take her home. But my daughter insisted that she could accompany them to scout the area to identify the assailant, and have him arrested. But of course this never happened because "nothing really happened".
And now I ask myself: Does nothing ever really happen when unnumbered amounts of girls, young and older women are routinely assaulted on their way home, to school, to work? Being hounded, intimidated, threatened, humiliated, molested, attacked, and terrorized? And of course without the lack of commentaries from the "righteous consciences" who are quick to blame the victims: "What was she doing walking so late by herself?", "Perhaps she wore provocative clothes", etc.. Violence against women in general happens any hour of the day, in their homes, at working places, schools, or just on the street. And the victims are from babies to elders. Paradoxically speaking, sexual assaults have very little to do with sex, but a lot with the vulnerability of the victim and the sense of power and control over “the other” which the attacker gets from overpowering it's victims .
Maybe somebody says that it is "a storm in a glass of water". A trifle. Nothing.
These actions are acts of violence and leave marks in those who are victimized: such acts wound their self-esteem, undermines the confidence within themselves, and their environment; cause depression, fear, rage, impotence; violate their sexual and free transit rights, and finally attack our society as a whole. Are we conscious of this? Or have we grown so accustomed to the use of abuse from each other (whether verbal, physical,emotional, or mental), that it all seems "natural" to ourselves? Is there nothing to be done?
What would happen if schools gave courses on sexual education beyond the use of the condoms and contraceptives, and include the respect of one's dignity, whether it be a woman, girls, and children? What would happen if the mass media compromised themselves to launch a true campaign on education and denouncement instead of crediting to yellow morbid curiosity? What would happen if in each home, parents would educate their children on respect and prevent the use of violence, instead of supporting and glamourize it. What would happen if the authorities committed themselves to not only on punishment but prevention? What would happen if each woman would send a letter like this one to the media every time "Nothing Happens"?
Perhaps then those who are responsible for "law and the order", and society itself, would take notice of this small, daily state of siege in which we women live in (with it's curfew, it's imposed terror, it's lack of liberties, it's violation of privacy, and it's impunity).
This man did not carry with him a weapon: my daughter was lucky . But perhaps the next girl on her way home will not be so.
Then, will something happen?
jueves, 23 de abril de 2009
When nothing happens...
By Rocio Duque