Myth and reality about sexual violence against women

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Tiko Tsomaia

Those people, who saw the photo depicting a lifeless body of a three-year-old Syrian boy lying face down in the sand, believed that Syrians are aspiring to Europe at the cost of their own lives; only a small part of European countries backed German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open the borders to all Syrian asylum seekers. A string of attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve has further undermined Merkel’s initiative.

During the New Year celebrations, a group of young men robbed and sexually assaulted women. German police said that of 900 complaints received 600 were connected to sexual offence. German police was subject to severe criticism for its failure to respond immediately to violent crimes as well as for leaving a lot of cases uninvestigated.

The Cologne developments moved to Berlin, where about 700 people held a protest rally against acts of violence committed by migrants; a wave of protests also erupted in other cities, where the number of Russian-language protesters only in one city reached 3000; protesters were demanding “protection of children and women”, German and Christian values as well as survival of “German culture.”

Public concerns were related to the story of a 13-year-old Russian girl living in Germany. Her parents claimed that their daughter was kidnapped and raped by migrants from the Middle East. The case aggravated diplomatic relations between Germany and Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made public statements on the issue. The latter even noted that Germany did not inform Russia about the incident involving Russian citizen “in accordance with all rules that exist in the civilized world.” These remarks triggered Germany’s concerns. The German Foreign Minister accused his Russian counterpart of an attempt to meddle in “Germany’s internal affairs.” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also reacted on the issue and noted that what was happening against Ukraine half and a year ago is now happening against Germany, calling it “Russia’s hybrid war.”

Actually, thousands of Russian-language protesters became the hostages of hybrid war; the anxiety was basically caused by a story aired on Russia’s Channel One, which was also viewed in Berlin and actively shared through social networks. According to the story, a 13-year-old Lisa rode the bus to the railway station, from where she disappeared. 30 hours later, the raped and severely beaten girl was abandoned in the street in another district. Three men raped the schoolgirl. In the story, people reacted on the incident with anger. A hacked video was also aired, showing criminals mocking at the raped girl.

The German police and prosecutor’s office said that neither kidnapping, nor raping of the girl has been proved. The investigation has revealed that sexual activity took place several months ago and the suspects have yet to be identified. They appeared to be other persons than those identified on the hacked video (the video was actually shot six years ago); the court will deliver final verdict.

The Berlin developments received widespread media attention in Georgia. If Radio Liberty and Tabula covered the incident citing various sources, involving the obscurity and controversial issues, Marshalpress made it clear to its readers that “a group of refugees was raping a 13-year-old girl for 30 hours in Berlin.” Political analyst, Soso Tsintsadze was apparently referring to this information, when he noted in the interview with Kronika TV program for January 11-17: “They may grant us visa liberalisation, but Europe has lost its previous charm; it has become dangerous. For example, will normal people let their children go to the place, where people are raped so openly and nobody demands answers for such cases?” The nurse of my child has also become the victim of hybrid war, as she was telling me with indignation for two weeks that refugees in Germany were raping young girls.

Generally, a lot of people have too little information about the facts of raping. Incomplete, non-factual knowledge harms a person, especially when somebody tries to manipulate people through concealing or distorting problems and facts; the information below provides the list of facts about raping. The author wants the readers to make their own conclusions after familiarizing themselves with these facts: which countries conduct more surveys, where there is more transparency and openness, which countries react adequately, in order to make an informed decision about where it is more dangerous – in Georgia, Europe, the United States or Russia.

1. According to the data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia (MIA), 242 cases against sexual freedom and sexual inviolability were revealed in 2013-2014 with 79 rape cases; in 2004 rape cases decreased almost twice (from 51 to 28); crime solution efficiency rate was 40-50%.

Also in 2013, 5 cases of trafficking were reported; not a single case of trafficking was reported in 2014.

It is worth noting that in 2010-2013, 3500 women and children received assistance in various shelters of Georgia; 50 female victims of trafficking were offered services in special shelters located in Tbilisi and Batumi.

2. In the United States, 54% of raped women hide the fact of raping; in Georgia this figure is unknown.

3. The probability of conception following rape is twice as high compared to the cases of consensual sexual activity.

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4. According to the global rankings, Georgia and Greece are ranked 119th and 92nd, respectively, by number of rape cases reported to the police. It should be noted that Egypt and India take the last places by number of reported rape cases; however, alternative statistical data prove an opposite.

5. Rape cases in the EU member states are by 1% less compared to the global average rate (10,19 cases per 100 000 population); the highest rate is observed in South Africa (132,4).

The United States isranked 14th (27,3); Russia and Spain – 73rd (3,4); Israel – 94th (1,8); Armenia and Azerbaijan – 115thand 116th, respectively (0,3; 0,4).

6. The probability that a woman is raped in the U.S. College is 1 to 5. There are no similar data in Georgia.

7. According to the UN survey on women for 2013, Georgian female and male respondents think that physical and then sexual violence is the gravest form of assault (94%); it is worth noting that 78% of respondents noted in the previous survey that domestic violence against women was a private family matter. Now, only 25% of respondents think so.

8. According to the Reproductive Health Survey conducted in Georgia in 2010, 5% of respondents admit sexual violence; according to the same survey, the frequency of physical and emotional violence against teenage girls is 5% and 8%, respectively; the same figures respectively stood at 11% and 25% in Albania and 16% and 32% in Romania in 2008. Less than 5% of teenage girls (15-19 years) noted in all the three countries that their husbands or partners forced them to have a sexual contact. According to the representative survey conducted in Turkey in 2008, 14% of women aged 15-24 years admitted that they had been sexually assaulted.

9. The gang rape case that occurred in Rustavi 35 years ago causing death of a 21-year-old woman, remains unsolved;

10. Georgian soldiers serving in the Central African peacekeeping mission are accused of raping a 13-year-old teenager.

11. A person accused of raping an 11-year-old disabled girl in Georgia was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

12. In Kvareli a 21-year-old boy tried to rape a 68-year-old woman.

13. On September 18, 2012 the Georgian society witnessed the facts of torture and inhuman treatment in Georgian prison system, when secret video recordings were aired on TV depicting the facts of sexual violence against male victims, including prisoners; the scales of torture are still unknown; perpetrators remain unpunished.

14. Number of rape victims in the U.S. Army is ranging between 8-37%; no such data are available in Georgia.

15. 77 rape cases were registered in Georgia from January 2008 to July 2008 and 100 cases during the entire year – from January to December 2008. It means that only 23 cases were registered in a period between the August war and the end of 2008. According to these data, the rates of rape were three-fold higher before the war than in the post-war period. 84 rape cases were registered in 2009.

For comparison: it is supposed that 60000 women were raped during the conflict in Bosnia.

16. Number of German women raped by Russian soldiers during the World War II ranged from 1 to 2 millions.

17. The country, where women are executed for being raped: Afghanistan.

18. In the United States, the ratio between the number of persons (mostly children), who became victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, and the number of Catholic clergy, who were found guilty is 10,667:1.

19. In June 1993, Sükran Esen, aged 21, was accused of assisting the PKK by a group of gendarmes who had arrived at her house. A trial observation report by the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) states that, in an aggravated felony court in the province of Mardin, a prosecutor indicted 405 members of the Derik District Gendarmerie Command, 65 of whom were senior officers, for raping Sükran Esen. The victim stated that on the three occasions that she was detained she was: raped by the gendarmes and their officer; given electric shocks; put inside a vehicle tyre and rolled over; subjected to high pressure jet sprays of cold water; and threatened with death. On one occasion, as a result of the sadistic sexual violence, she was finally taken to hospital whilst haemorrhaging. Esen was blindfolded throughout the ordeal and was never able to recognise her perpetrators. Although nine witnesses testified to the arrest of the victim by the gendarme, the accused not only denied committing the alleged offences, but failed to acknowledge that Sükran Esen had ever been detained. A medical report from the International Berlin Torture and Rehabilitation Centre, where Esen had undergone treatment, certified that her injuries were the result of torture. This case offers examples as to why Turkey has been denied entry into the EU by the European Commission due to the country’s human rights issues.

20. According to the rape cases, the United States was ranked 3rd in 2010; France was ranked 2nd in the Eurozone in 2009. During the same year Iceland was ranked 3rd in Europe. Moldova was the first country in 2010 among the Eastern European countries.

It is worth noting that different types of traumatic events are associated with sexual violance. In the study by Kessler et al (1995), 65% of the men and 45.9% of the women who had been raped met post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) criteria. It was much higher compared to PTSD revealed among war veterans. The science of trauma is relatively young science. The first research was launched in 1970. Two groups of independent scientists described one and the same symptoms when working with Vietnam veterans and female rape victims. These persons acted or felt as if the event was recurring (flashback). The research prompted the introduction of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a diagnostic category. Emotional responses of trauma survivors with PTSD included guilt, shame, intense anger or emotional numbing. They knew that they should have loved their relatives but they had lost this feeling. An invisible glass barrier was erected between them and the rest of the world. This prevented them from continuing normal life.

The issue of sexual trauma is covered by media to a lesser extent due to the taboo associated to it. Out of 1256 trauma-related publications, only 2.2% was dedicated to sexual violence (Nelson and Newman, 2010).

It should be noted that rape victims often blame themselves for what happened. Their condition is further aggravated as their acquaintances also blame them. Psychologists explain this phenomenon by the fact that people are inclined to find an explanation to why the same trouble cannot happen to them. To calm themselves, they think that they would not have acted this way. Therefore, frequently rape victims are accused of failing to identify rapists and resist them; they are also frequently blamed for improper dressing and misconduct. There is nothing rational in this approach. Simply, this is a strategy of other people to abate their own fear and indignation.

The surveys on women victims of the August war have also shown that women were basically speaking about others and keeping silence about their own experiences. They were accusing themselves of what happened. The researchers often heard the phrases: “I deserved it”, or “I am polluted” (From Eka Cherkezishvili’s BA thesis, 2013).

Summary

Soso Tsintsadze’s statement about the Russian girl’s case or the Cologne developments, according to which “people are openly raped in Europe and nobody demands answers for such cases” misleads the readers, because as it appeared, the information about raped girl is not confirmed; the issue is publicly discussed by German society, law enforcement agencies and media, unlike Russia, which disseminates misinformation with the purpose of manipulating people. As far as the rape phenomenon is concerned, the survey has shown that it happens in any society, including in Georgia and it cannot be distinguished by national origin. Western society pays much more attention to this problem, studies it and openly speaks about the ways of its solution. It tries to pursue an evidence-based policy. Meanwhile, there are countries, where due to taboo and lack of knowledge, many people become victims of violence in silence and darkness and suffer from it. As the women victims of the August war said, they are “polluted” and they believe that they “deserve” it.

Violation: Disinformation
Country: Germany
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