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24 March 2013

Staff Editorial 3/25: Ohio rape stirs controversy

Last week, two high school football athletes were sentenced to at least one year in a juvenile detention facility after being found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious 16-year-old girl at various parties in Steubenville, Ohio.

More than 50 people were present at these parties. Videos and photographs were taken, and many were using social media to “report” what was happening.

This rape case made national news after controversy stirred as a result of the verdict. Some people were outraged about the fairly short sentence the two males received, while others were outraged at the girl for even claiming to be a victim of rape.

We have come to live in a society where some people believe that being raped is ultimately a choice. If girls get drunk at a party and dress provocatively, they’re “asking for it.”

But, this is a generalization. The way you dress is not a factor. Being sexually assaulted can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. There are no warning signs.

It is clear that many people have forgotten the core definition of rape. Being raped – date rape, statutory rape, gang rape, spousal rape, prison rape, war rape – means that consent was not given for the sexual act to take place.

Going on a date with a guy or being drunk and unconscious does not mean consenting to a sexual act. It’s not consent unless both parties explicitly say yes.

The Steubenville case is just one of many. Rape happens everyday, in different forms, all over the world. Most cases do not make national news. Most cases are not even reported.

The majority of rapes happen to women, by men close to them – friends, neighbors, boyfriends, husbands and even family members. But, rape cases have also included women raping men or men raping men or women raping women.

Girls are taught that the more “careful” they are, the less likely they will be raped. This is false. Regardless of how careful a girl is, there is no guarantee for safety.

Many don’t call 911 or get help because they are scared of being ashamed or called a slut for “allowing” something to happen, for not being assertive enough, for not being strong enough to fight for their body.

Being raped is not something girls plan. It is not something girls just claim because they feel guilty. Society has now come to the point where it questions the victim rather than the rapist.

Being raped is life-altering. Being raped is real. Being raped is a crime – it should never be overlooked.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.