“Dear Harvard: I am writing to let you know that I give up. I will be moving out of my House next semester, if only—quite literally—to save my life. You will no longer receive emails from me, asking for something to be done, pleading for someone to hear me, explaining how my grades are melting and how I have developed a mental illness as a result of your inaction. My assailant will remain unpunished, and life on this campus will continue its course as if nothing had happened. Today, Harvard, I am writing to let you know that you have won.”
“Exactly the same thing happens in universities in America that happens in the military. Presidents of universities and colleges and commanding officers don’t want to admit that, under their leadership, sexual abuse is taking place,” Carter noted. “Rapists prevail because they know they’re not going to be reported.”
In today’s New York Times, there is an article about the trial and conviction of five men who gang-raped a photojournalist, and other women, at an abandoned mill in Mumbai. According to the reporters, the men had used the mill on several occasions, communicating with one another that “the prey has arrived.”
As I reached the concluding paragraphs of this article, I was utterly perplexed. The journalist had previously introduced both Mr. Ansari and Mr. Jadhav as two of the five men who used the abandoned mill as a gang-rape site. Yet the article ends by presenting their plights, evidently to curry the reader’s sympathy. Here is the text:
“Outside the courtroom, the wife of Salim Ansari, who is in his late 20s and has two young children, reached into a cloth bag and produced a small metal box containing rice and meat. Mr. Ansari’s son Saadiq, 10, threw himself at his father’s legs, pummeling and biting him, while Shaafiq, 6, scraped bits of plaster from the wall with a finger.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Mr. Ansari told his wife, taking a liter bottle of a mango drink that she had brought. “Our family is your responsibility.”
Vijay Jadhav, another of the defendants, sat on a wooden bench at the back of the courtroom and wept into a handkerchief because no one from his family had come to see him. A police officer, who guarded him, advised him to be patient.
“There is no one to see if I’m dead or alive,” Mr. Jadhav said.
What is this rhetoric about, and what is its effect? I recall a similar storyline used about the Steubenville rape case, and the television journalist who concluded her segment by asking what was to become of the young men and their promising futures in the wake of the rape they had committed. What is the perverse message being communicated about sexual violence and its legacies? Who are these journalists portraying as the victims of these bloody acts of gang rape?