A couple of years ago I watched a Frontline Documentary about the rape of what was basically a generation of students by missionaries. I believe they were attending schools that were established at the time. It was a very hard film to watch, I am pretty sure that I left during part of it.
Well, the other day I ran across this article that looked at why there is such an epidemic of rape in Alaska. This is not a new problem, it is one that seems to be deeply entrenched in the culture, and left deep scars in both the victims and the communities.
John D. Sutter is the reporter who went and spent two weeks questioning folks and getting an idea of what it is like some of these remote areas that can be completely closed off from the rest of society during the harsh winters. It seems as though most people agree that the long and harsh winters, with minimal daylight, and the isolation from authorities plays a factor in how these crimes can be committed with such frequency, and how it impacts heavily on a crime that is already grossly under-reported.
Sutter primarily focuses on a family where the step-father abused his step-daughter, and now that he is out of prison, he is doing a treatment program that involves both his wife and step-daughter. When I first saw this it left me with an uneasy feeling, mostly because I wonder if that re-traumatizes her, but as you read through there seems to be an element that usually is missing in these cases of abuse. The step-father cannot help be accountable for his actions, there is a lack of victim blaming in this treatment because he is faced with the fact that he abused someone who he was supposed to care for, and keep safe. As he talks about his own history of abuse, the idea of how common and entrenched this is slaps you in face. It is not an excuse, but it shows how a young mind was distorted and taught how to abuse and that it was o.k. No one ever held him accountable, so why would he think it was wrong as he got older? This bothers me, because people had the chance to change something and prevent others from having to go through the same thing, and nothing was done. Cultural beliefs, and social views of men being more important play heavily into how these horrific acts were shrugged off, which leads to more and more victims because there are few willing to listen to those who actually speak up. Let me be clear I do not think this indicative of just Alaska, I think it is a indicative of a prevailing world culture where women and children are there, sometimes seen as burden, sometimes seen as property, and always the last ones to be taken care of.
I think the article is great and that it should be looked at. The treatment they have is not perfect, but it providing a solution when there is usually not one. This treatment also questions the attacker, instead of questioning the victim. The responsibility is placed on them, and the choices they made. I honestly do think more dialogue with abusers is something that needs to be done, figure the why, and put it on them, rather than always making the victim the responsible one.
Here is the article: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/02/opinion/sutter-change-alaska-rape/index.html?hpt=hp_t2&nbd=5_things