The civil war in Libya has captured the attention of the world to the point that the United Nations declared a no-fly zone to stop the slaughter of civilians by forces loyal to Muammar Gadhafi. Gadhafi’s military is accused of atrocities and possible war crimes, and now 15 of his forces are accused of raping a young woman. When she reported the rape, she was promptly whisked off, detained, and charged with being a prostitute as well as making accusations of a sexual crime. Many pundits criticize the Middle East for its mistreatment of women and cite examples like the Libyan woman’s rape as a reason to vilify Islam. However, the young woman in Libya experienced the same treatment Republicans in Congress and statehouses are attempting to legislate into law right here in America.
After the young Libyan woman was tied up and gang raped for two days by 15 government men, she escaped and burst into a room full of international journalists to report the crime. She was promptly apprehended by security officials who held her in custody and eventually charged her with being mentally ill, a prostitute, a drunk, a thief, and guilty of slander for making accusations of a sexual crime. The story is an insult to the sensibilities of decent Americans and was widely covered by main-stream media outlets to show the savage treatment women in Islamic countries experience as a matter of course.
The woman’s family was offered a bribe if she would retract her story, but her family steadfastly supports their daughter despite the stigma of “damaged goods” women endure after suffering such treatment in the Muslim world. The 15 men accused of detaining and raping the woman filed a counter-complaint against her for slander, and the case is being called a “grave offense” by Libyan officials. The Middle East is notorious for the mistreatment of women and Americans are revolted that a rape victim can be executed by stoning for being raped whether it is reported or not. Unfortunately, Republican lawmakers are adopting Sharia law standards that will place American women in the same situation the young Libyan rape victim found herself in.
In Congress last month, Republicans proposed H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” and one of the measure’s provisions called for redefining rape to be only if a woman could prove that she was forcibly raped. The measure is a treacherous attack on rape victims that forces the woman to prove their attacker physically assaulted them before they could be eligible for an abortion. The same law, H.R. 3, mandates that the Internal Revenue Service police and audit how Americans pay for abortions, and if a company provides health insurance for a plan that covers abortion, whether used or not, the company and taxpayer are disallowed from deducting health costs. Besides being obtrusive and humiliating to women, it is, in effect, a huge tax increase for the company and the policy holder if neither one can deduct medical expenses.
In Texas, an 11-year-old girl was raped and the 18 men blamed the child for her own gang rape. As atrocious as it is for the alleged rapist to blame the victim, it is common for criminals to blame their victim. It is more criminal that a Republican Florida state Representative, Kathleen Passidomo, attributed the rape to the girl’s appearance and choice of clothing. Passidomo was involved in a debate over a dress code bill and remarked that, “an 11-year-old girl was gang raped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute.” At a civic meeting in Cleveland Texas where the sexual assault occurred, local residents also placed the blame on the girl and supported the men and boys who gang raped the child. The rape was recorded with a mobile phone and there was never a denial from the rapists; only that it was her fault.
Earlier this year, a Georgia state Senator, Bobby Franklin, introduced a bill mandating that victims of rape be re-classified and “accusers.” Classifying a victim of rape as an accuser, not only places a barrier to those reporting rape, it makes prosecution much more difficult and puts women in an untenable position of reporting sexual assault at her own peril. In Georgia, if a home is broken into, the suspect is a suspect and the homeowner is a victim. Women are not afforded the same consideration as a homeowner because in America, like in many Middle East countries that subscribe to Sharia Law, the male dominated Republicans think of women as mere chattel. Franklin’s law is misogynistic and hateful toward women and typifies recent Republican attacks on women in Congress and state legislatures. A woman in America is not far removed from the young woman in Libya who was gang raped, and if Republicans have their way, women will be stoned to death merely for being raped and wanting to terminate the criminal insemination.
The Republican assault on women and their reproductive rights has been underway for years, but the current battering at the hands of Christians in statehouses and Congress is moving America closer to Sharia Law every day. The savage rape of the Libyan woman was carried by main-stream media outlets to show the brutality of Sharia Law and the viciousness of Muslim men. However, the main-stream media has not covered the Republicans in Congress and their attempts to redefine rape or re-classify a rape victim into an accuser. They have also not covered the pregnant Iowa woman who was arrested and jailed for two days because she fell down a flight of stairs because of a personhood statute sponsored by Christian Republicans.
When the Libyan woman burst in and told international journalists she had been viciously raped, she was pounced on by female maids, male hotel staff, and male security staff. The danger in America is that Republicans will eventually convince most Americans (including women) that a man can rape a child or a woman with impunity and that bystanders should attack the woman for being raped. If a Georgia woman is raped and dares report the crime, she will be jailed and become a vile accuser who can be charged with slander. If an 11-year-old girl is gang raped and not covered in a Burka, she will be condemned and stoned to death as if she lived in Pakistan, Libya, Florida or Texas. Republicans around the country are passing absurd laws to ban Sharia Law, but it is here already courtesy of the Republican Party. Today they punish women for being raped; how long before they punish Americans for not attending church or praying 5 times a day.
Much of the blame rests with the media for not reporting the outrageous attacks on women’s rights by the Republicans in Congress and the states. The media heavily reported the story about the Libyan woman because it happened in a Muslim country and many Americans were outraged. But the main-stream media has not reported instances of Republicans blaming women for being assaulted or attempts to redefine rape or victim into accuser. There is some blame attributable to anti-abortion sentiment among Christian conservatives, but more likely, it is the vile misogyny rampant in all sectors of America that condones mistreatment of women. Perhaps it is a virtuous idea to ban Sharia Law along with its sponsors. It is easy to identify the proponents of Sharia Law; their symbol is an elephant and they hate women.