Need rape awareness

I'm sick to my stomach.

There were four sexual assaults reported by University of Arizona students in the last week.

This is bad news, but hopeful at the same time.

At least these assaults were reported. As tragic as these incidents are, the victims were brave enough to call the police. They deserve respect and sensitivity.

It's disturbing to know that for every rape or sexual assault reported, more have occurred.

And to think that this is supposed to be rape awareness week.

At least with the reports of these four assaults, people should be aware now.

Aware that people still violate other people in the most invasive way, by breaking into someone's body and taking things much more important than a television, car, stereo or any other inanimate, replacable object.

This litany against rape has been said before, but it bears repeating.

Women are people, with rights to self-respect and a sense of personal security. As a group, men are able to take these things for granted in our society.

Men are granted the ability to be aggressive, sometimes without recourse. If a man, in general, beats up another man, he is heralded as an example of a "real man." The fact remains that one person inflicted injury on another, but that is acceptable.

Of course it's not.

It's not acceptable for one person to encroach on another person in such a way.

A "real" man or woman wouldn't resort to violence in the first place. He or she would jump in to break up a fight, stop a sexual assault or report one they knew about.

It is despicable to think that another person would feel entitled to assault another like this, to think he has a right to another person's body and soul.

But imagine if a person went inside you.

Or if that happened to your mother, sister, brother or friend.

I cannot understand why and how someone could assume that another human being is there for the taking. A person does not exist just for another's use and convenience.

It doesn't matter if the two people know each other, it's still a violation. In fact, the violation could be even worse because of the prior supposed friendship.

This problem is not restricted by gender. Women are not solely responsible for the rape crisis simply because most of the victims are women. Men are not solely responsible simply because most of the perpetrators are men.

But women are not always the victims, and men are not always the attackers. It is naive to think that all rapes and sexual assaults are male-on-female. While that is usually the case, women as a group are capable of this horrible behavior, just as men as a group are.

And men who are victims of a sexual attack must be encouraged to report the crimes, just as women are. Being a victim of a crime does not emasculate a man. Just the opposite is true victims are just that, victims. Being a victim is not a value judgment on a person, a statement of someone's worth.

Yet it can be construed as such when it comes to rape. This is a sad statement about the world where we live, that someone could be blamed for being a victim. And it must change.

One way to address the issue is through education. It must be instilled in children that people are equal, that men and women are people to be respected and valued. One gender is not there for the pleasure of the other.

This idea must be reinforced through the family, through school and by the media.

It is obvious that more education must be done. Some groups on campus hold rape awareness seminars, but apparently that is not enough. This is not to say that these efforts were in vain, but further measures are necessary.

Everyone must be educated on this issue, and the secondary and higher education levels are too late. Respect for others is a basic value, and by the time people are in high school or college attitudes are usually already formed.

Society is given the responsibility of shaping these inherent values, as well as teaching people that there is nothing wrong in reporting that they were victims of a crime.

The attitudes that lead to sexual assault must be nipped in the bud, and people must work together to address this problem.

Sarah Garrecht is editor in chief of the Wildcat and is a journalism senior.

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