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One Word Describes Rape & Sexual Violence: Everywhere

One Word Describes Rape & Sexual Violence: Everywhere

Last night while I was dutifully scouring the web in search of the latest news relevant to our mission here at Maternova, [I was taken aback by an article describing the recent suicide of a 17 year old girl in Halifax, Nova Scotia](http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/10/justice/canada-teen-suicide/index.html). Rehtaeh Parsons was only 15 when she was gang raped by four boys at a friend’s home. After the attack the boys thought it would be fun to send photos of the rape across the social media landscape. A full two years later, after being relentlessly harassed and bullied, she hung herself in her family home. The boys have yet to be brought to justice due to ‘insufficient evidence’. Are photos not recognized as evidence in any court? Can someone explain to us how this heinous crime has gone unpunished? A mother has lost her child in a way that makes any mother cringe and shudder. Where is the justice for our girls? [It’s almost amusing that the G8 Countries just yesterday made a collective statement to end rape in areas of conflict](http://www.dw.de/g8-condemns-sexual-violence-in-conflict-zones/a-16736565). The United States and Canada are part of the forum now fraught with passion towards the plight of women? Something’s being championed for headline purposes only, since they clearly don’t practice what they preach.

Rehtaeh’s rape happened in Canada, but rape and sexual assault are all too common in our own country. It’s estimated roughly 90,000 rapes are reported in the U.S. annually. The key word in the previous sentence is 'reported'. We all know the incidents of sexual violence are actually much higher and much more insidious. We live in a "rape culture", don’t be fooled or lulled into a false sense of security. More outrageous is that only 25% of accused rapists are ever arrested, and only a fraction will ever be convicted. The victims, however, receive a life sentence of trying to overcome the memory of what happened and manage the undeserved emotional and psychological demolition of their own being.

Maternova focuses on maternal and newborn health. But our focus extends beyond medical innovations to being a champion for all women’s rights globally. While recent statistics place the United States in the shameful top ten for rape occurrence worldwide, the data is suspect. An example that springs to mind is the Muslim community. A woman who is raped must produce four men to provide ‘eye witness’ testimony and corroborate her story. If this fails to happen, or even if she has three witnesses, she may be stoned to death. Women are brutalized then brutally killed by their community over and over again, and it is time it is stopped. [You can see the rankings here](http://www.rainn.org/statistics).

Join us and be a voice for change. Our persecution as a gender is worldwide. It exists here at home and reaches to the far corners of the Earth. Our rights are being eroded right out from under us, by special interest groups and our continued silence on the issues that affect women worldwide. It can happen here, and it does. Help be part of the solution.

a.e.cote 4/2013

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