Socially Influenced Groups - Gang Rapes;
A Sad State of Affairs
by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live
I share this article that I wrote for my psychology class. It's far from being happy, positive, and upbeat. However, I want to raise some awareness and some insight. Observing many Facebook comments and posts, I've noticed we are all guilty of burying our heads in positive psychology. The West, especially, is well known for the "be happy and everything will be fine mentality." As a result, though, we absorb ourselves in the self forgetting about the other corners on this planet. We - the West - are so individualistic, we separate ourselves from the entire world. Is it protection or just plain old self-absorption? When many of us see a post that is subject to some tears shed or some anger stirred, we blind-fully close our eyes and make the conscious choice to pass over it. We all do this from time-to-time. For sure, I understand, that we don't want to be bogged down with heavy 'stuff' on a daily basis. Nonetheless, there is such a gap between the West and other countries, that it almost raises bile in the back of my throat. So read if you choose. Click the X if not. No matter what, these horrendous acts will still be alive and vivid in the eyes of the victims. The brief write is about our socially influenced attributions, attitudes, and the groups we share. Facebook being one of them, though, to a degree far less from what I am about to speak of. My intention for this post is to raise awareness on the power of groups and conformity. We all do it, no matter what. However, to what degree are you? Closing our eyes to these atrocities is a choice. This topic is from the early 70's; however, they are still happening in this present day - here and in the East. What's really sad is that some countries glorify what happened to Saleha and Ester. Calvin Klein is a culprit of glorifying gang rapes, and many others, through advertising products. Now how sick is that!
During the 1971 Liberation War, Bangladesh gained independence from India. The cost was high for the women. As many as 400,000 women were brutally raped. The Khans tied Saleha Begum’s hands to a tree. She was “repeatedly gang raped and burned with cigarettes for months until she was shot and left for dead in a pile of women.” Prior, she watched other women strapped to trees, raped, burned, and later hacked to death by the Khans. Nevertheless, she didn’t die. She dragged herself out of the pile of cold dead bodies and, while observing the gunshot scars on her legs, somehow made her way home, and five months pregnant. During Uganda’s civil war, Ester Abeja was cut with machetes and repeatedly gang raped with objects by the Lord’s Resistance Army destroying her insides. The captors also made her kill her one year old daughter by smashing the baby’s head into a tree.
Besides the psychological fortress that was built up inside these women, they were scorned, taunted, hated, mocked, and rejected by their own family and towns. Social stigma prevented any community support. Saleha was branded a “slut” and eventually left town. Ester was bullied out of the right to buy land and had a hard time finding work.
Attributions are affected by the need to believe that the world is fair; that good people are rewarded and bad people are punished; and, that justice triumph. As you can see, family and community members could not make sense of these irrational events that occurred around them – the pillage, brutal slayings, and gang-rapes. They didn’t feel safe in the presence of Saleh and Ester, either, since they were a daily reminder of what happened – the inhumane acts of wars. The just-world hypothesis made family and community feel safe. They could now justify that Saleh and Ester were punished for their own wrongdoings. The just-world hypothesis led to dispositional attribution. It was their own fault they were brutally gang-raped. They were to blame. As for the community as a whole, diffusion of responsibility played out as well. No one stood up for Saleha or Ester. As they were taunted and mocked, no one in the crowd intervened to support. Was there anyone that wanted to help? I think (maybe I’m hoping) there could have been a few that wanted to help, but they left it up to someone else. In addition, obedience played a role in Ester’s decision to kill her own child. If she didn’t kill her daughter, you can only guess in what other ways she may have been tortured.
http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/08/opinion/steinem-wolfe-rape-war/index.html?hpt=op_mid, http://womensenews.org/story/rape/110904/bangladesh-rape-victims-say-war-crimes-overlooked?page=0,1, http://www.genderacrossborders.com/2011/09/21/ester%E2%80%99s-eyes-returning-from-uganda%E2%80%99s-war-as-a-bush-wife/