Collectively, the movies A Clockwork Orange, Gran Torino, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo earned roughly $529 million at the box office. Besides a wide fan base, these films, which have release dates ranging from 1971 to 2011, also share another commonality.
Although less incredible than the money generated, all three films depict, or have scenes, of men or women being raped. We live now, not only in a world were media causally shows violent murder, property damage and kidnapping, but also the violent act of sexual assault and rape. Sure, they’re rated R in theatres, but when that movie gets into a household, it seems now that an R rating means anyone older than eleven has access.
Depictions in media, be it through movies or by pop icons, have the power to sway human ideas, and interests. This can be seen innocently by people adopting fashion trends from what they saw the latest stars wearing in film (off-the-shoulder sweaters after Jennifer Beals’ work in 1983’s Flashdance) or more obscure trends as with rather enormous, flamboyant hats after Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. Yet, our natural human inclination to move towards what we find interesting, can lead to much more disastrous things than a hat with a huge feather. This includes miniature fight clubs after Brad Pitt’s 1996 film. Some people are even starting to think that things such as gun violence and rape shown in film are leading to the real life cases visible around the world today from Newton to New Delhi.
On December 16, five men and one onlooker gang raped a physiotherapy intern in New Delhi, India. From physical attacks, to using weapons as part of the sexual strike, a night of seeing Life of Pi with her friend ended with the friend being gagged, beaten and left unconscious, while the unnamed victim of the rape ended up in the hospital with only 5 per cent of her intestines remaining and brain damage among other injuries. She died of a cerebral edema on December 29, 2012, a mere thirteen days after boarding what was believed to be a city bus, but was rather part of a six man joyride turned deadly assault.
The public would not keep this quiet. The world wouldn’t either. Protests started in the town where the incident took place, New Delhi, at the Parliament of India and the Official Residence of the President. Clashes commenced between Rapid Action Force units and the civilians, who were blasted with water cannons and baton charges. This was followed by outcries from major cities such as Paris, marching to the Indian embassy and the United Nations releasing a public statement on the safety of women.
Finally, peace is starting to be made in India in regards to the sexual assault of women, but in a way, I think it’s too late. Yes, many women will be saved from fear and indignation now with courts rushing legal cases after the incident in December, and word of a law being made in the honour of the victim. But still, too late.
In New Delhi, India, a rape is reported on average every 18 hours. This is only one city out of many, not to mention rural communities where most cases are never reported. Never once have I heard a story of a rape case coming out of that part of the world, or even in Canada. In my opinion, I feel it’s from the negative stigma around the instances. I don’t mean to the perpetrators, they deserve all the negative comments and jail sentences they can get. The reason I feel we never hear about, and the reason we may be too late already, is because the stigma is also shown to the victim. This needs to stop if the epidemic of rape is to stop. That’s what the world is facing, an epidemic. Rape is quickly becoming an infectious disease at a physical and social level. These acts are being committed and no one is speaking, instead we pretend that it didn’t happen.
Many victims don’t speak out because of the mental scars of rape. Those who haven’t been affected need to show those who have, and are too afraid to talk, that they don’t need to hide their scars from the world. With a social stand, I feel any issue can be greatly decreased if not removed entirely. We need to show the perpetrators that a stand is being made: in India, in France, in Canada.
Maybe starting to decrease the prevalence of sexual assault in television and the media can be the next step. Possibly keeping the perpetrators name in secret so they don’t get the pleasure of infamy can be the third step. But the first step? Let the victims know they can fight. Let the victims know we’re here to fight with them every step of the way.
On December 31, Google had a small image under their search bar. It was a virtual candle in honour of the unnamed physiotherapy intern from India. This is in honour of everyone else who never received a real or virtual candle vigil. We’re here for you.