Two weeks ago, I finished a book called Lucky: A Memoir, by Alice Sebold; Alice Sebold was also the author of the bestselling book, The Lovely Bones. The memoir was about her rape, back when she was 18 and attending college. The details of the rape were graphic. But knowing that she had a bestselling book made it easier for me; it allowed me to realise that there is life after rape.
I was quite uncomfortable reading it. Being male puts me in an akward position (no pun intended). On the one hand, there is the horrors of rape, and on the other, there’s this sickening and perverted subconscious self that says, “I wish I was the one ****ing her”.
Recently there was case in the newspapers, where a girl, 17 or 18 at that time, was stripped by a group of five girls in front of a group of boys. The girls who stripped her told the boys watching to sing, as loudly as they could, “happy birthday” — their purpose? to drown out the screams. And this happend in Punggol Park — my very own backyard of sorts.
I told one of my friends about this case. He looked a little shocked, but seemed less than upset about it than me. Then he asked me where it happened. When I mentioned “Singapore”, he stared at me at disbelief and started shaking his head. I looked back at him with an expression that said, “yeah, I couldn’t believe it either”.
A Walk in the Park
Now, imagine this. You’re walking in the park enjoying the peace, when suddenly you hear screams. You turn to look in the direction the screams are coming from, and wonder if you should check it out or not. But the screams are immediately followed by loud singing, “Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!” it goes.
You can vaguely make out some screaming, but the singing’s too loud. The peacefulness interrupted, you mutter under your breath, “inconsiderate bastards” and continue your walk, oblivious to the fact that you’ve just been tricked by some cunning adolescents, and that there’s a girl back there, somewhere, screaming for your help.
In Her Shoes
Now, put yourself in her shoes. You’re held back by a couple of girls, each holding on to one of your hands. Another three girls standing around watching and taunting you. Five of their male friends are also standing around, watching their every move. They know it is wrong, but they’re enticed by the erotic nature of this very act — a catfight — now, tell me, which guy could resist?
You’re begging them to let you go. Suddenly, one of the girls starts looking around and, in a casual remark says that perhaps they should strip you to “teach you a lesson.” The other girls pick on that idea, and start agreeing that “maybe we should, b*tch!” By now you are shaking; scared out of your wits.
You wonder how this day turned out like this. You wish your hands were free so you could pinch yourself awake; this nightmare isn’t real — it can’t be. You try to shake loose, but their grip is too tight. 30 metres down the slope is a footpath, there’s people down there! Many of them! You scream and try to shout for help. But the moment you screamed, one of the girls raised her hand and slapped you across the face.
She orders the boys to sing, and they do. Your subsequent attempts for help are drowned out by their singing; how happy they seem! The girl, angered by your screaming, starts ripping off your clothes. You try to stop her, but cannot. You look around, crying, screaming, but are helpless to do anything. When they are done, they throw your clothes away, leaving you standing there, naked.
The boys are still laughing and singing. You think of your parents, your friends; you think of God. How could He allow them to do this?
They let go of you, and you fall to the ground, crying and trying to preserve whatever dignity you might have left in you. They leave you crying there, and walk away from the area. What they don’t know is that they’ll never leave your mind.
Whenever I read about rapes or tortures, I always hope that in the end, the victim is killed. It serves as a comforting thought that she/he may have suffered then, and suffered a great deal, but at least now they are no longer suffering.
In this case, the victim survived. She went on to file a police report. Now 24, she has to go to court, re-live the experience in front of even more people.
Isn’t death, then, better?