By Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam
17 March 2017
A recent report from Equality Now titled
'The World's Shame: The Global Rape Epidemic'
equalitynow.org/campaigns/rape-laws-report offered a series of
recommendations for strengthened laws to deter and punish sexual violence
against women and girls.
However, there is substantial evidence that
legal approaches to dealing with violence in any context are ineffective. For
example, the empirical evidence on threats of punishment (that is, violence) as
deterrence and the infliction of punishment (that is, violence) as revenge
reveals variable impact and context dependency, which is readily apparent through
casual observation. There are simply too many different reasons why people
break laws in different contexts. See, for example, 'Crime Despite
Moreover, given the overwhelming evidence
that violence is rampant in our world and that the violence of the legal system
simply contributes to and reinforces this cycle of violence, it seems patently
obvious that we would be better off identifying the cause of violence and then
designing approaches to address this cause and its many symptoms effectively.
And reallocating resources away from the legal and prison systems in support of
approaches that actually work.
So Why Do Some Men Rape?
All perpetrators of violence, including
rapists, suffered enormous violence during their own childhoods. This violence
will have usually included a great deal of 'visible' violence (that is, the
overt physical violence that we all readily identify) but, more importantly, it
will have included a great deal of 'invisible' and 'utterly invisible' violence
as well: the violence perpetrated by adults against children that is not
ordinarily perceived as violent. For a full explanation, see 'Why Violence?'
http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence and 'Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology:
Principles and Practice'.
This violence inflicts enormous damage on a
child's Selfhood leaving them feeling terrified, self-hating and powerless,
among other horrific feelings. However, because we do not allow children the
emotional space to feel their emotional responses to our violence, these
feelings of terror, self-hatred and powerlessness (among a multitude of
others), become deeply embedded in the child's unconscious and drive their
behaviour without their conscious awareness that they are doing so.
So what is 'invisible' violence? It is the
'little things' we do every day, partly because we are just 'too busy'. For
example, when we do not allow time to listen to, and value, a child's thoughts
and feelings, the child learns to not listen to them self thus destroying their
internal communication system. When we do not let a child say what they want
(or ignore them when they do), the child develops communication and behavioural
dysfunctionalities as they keep trying to meet their own needs (which, as a
basic survival strategy, they are genetically programmed to do).
When we blame, condemn, insult, mock,
embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie to, bribe,
blackmail, moralize with and/or judge a child, we both undermine their sense of
Self-worth and teach them to blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame,
humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie, bribe, blackmail, moralize
The fundamental outcome of being bombarded
throughout their childhood by this 'invisible' violence is that the child is
utterly overwhelmed by feelings of fear, pain, anger and sadness (among many
others). However, parents, teachers and other adults also actively interfere
with the expression of these feelings and the behavioural responses that are
naturally generated by them and it is this 'utterly invisible' violence that
explains why the dysfunctional behavioural outcomes actually occur.
For example, by ignoring a child when they
express their feelings, by comforting, reassuring or distracting a child when
they express their feelings, by laughing at or ridiculing their feelings, by
terrorizing a child into not expressing their feelings (e.g. by screaming at
them when they cry or get angry), and/or by violently controlling a behaviour
that is generated by their feelings (e.g. by hitting them, restraining them or
locking them into a room), the child has no choice but to unconsciously
suppress their awareness of these feelings.
However, once a child has been terrorized
into suppressing their awareness of their feelings (rather than being allowed
to have their feelings and to act on them) the child has also unconsciously
suppressed their awareness of the reality that caused these feelings. This has
many outcomes that are disastrous for the individual, for society and for
nature because the individual will now easily suppress their awareness of the
feelings that would tell them how to act most functionally in any given
circumstance and they will progressively acquire a phenomenal variety of
dysfunctional behaviours, including some that are violent towards themselves,
others and/or the Earth.
So what is happening psychologically for
the rapist when they commit the act of rape? In essence, they are projecting
the (unconsciously suppressed) feelings of their own victimhood onto their rape
victim. That is, their fear, self-hatred and powerlessness, for example, are
projected onto the victim so that they can gain temporary relief from these
feelings. Their fear, temporarily, is more deeply suppressed. Their self-hatred
is projected as hatred of their victim. Their powerlessness is temporarily
relieved by a sense of being in control, which they were never allowed to be,
and feel, as a child. And similarly with their other suppressed feelings. For
example, a rapist might blame their victim for their dress: a sure sign that
the rapist was endlessly, and unjustly, blamed as a child and is
(unconsciously) angry about that.
The central point in understanding violence
is that it is psychological in origin and hence any effective response must
enable the suppressed feelings (which will include enormous rage at the
violence they suffered) to be safely expressed. For an explanation of what is
required, see 'Listening: The Art of Deep Listening' which is referenced in 'My
Promise to Children'.
The legal system is simply a socially endorsed
structure of violence and it uses violence, euphemistically labelled
'punishment', in a perverse attempt to terrorise people into controlling their
behaviours or being treated violently in revenge by the courts if they do not.
This approach is breathtakingly ignorant and unsophisticated in the extreme and
a measure of how far we are from responding powerfully to the pervasive problem
of violence in our world. See 'The Rule of Law: Unjust and Violent' informationclearinghouse.info/article35866.htm
and 'Punishment is Violent and Counterproductive'.
So What Are We To Do?
Well we can continue to lament violence
against women (just as some lament other manifestations of violence such as
war, exploitation and destruction of the environment, for example) and use the
legal system to reinforce the cycle of violence by inflicting more violence as
Or We Can Each, Personally, Address The
Underlying Cause Of All Violence.
It might not be palatable to acknowledge
and take steps to address your own violence against children but, until you do,
you will live in a world in which the long-standing and unrelenting epidemic of
violence against children ensures that all other manifestations of human violence
continue unchecked. And our species becomes extinct.
If you wish to participate in the worldwide
effort to end human violence, you might like to make 'My Promise to Children'
outlined in the article cited above and to sign the online pledge of 'The People's
Charter to Create a Nonviolent World'.
You might also support initiatives to
devote considerable societal resources to providing high-quality emotional
support (by those expert at listening) to those who survive rape. This support
cannot be provided by a psychiatrist. See 'Defeating the Violence of
Psychiatry'. warisacrime.org/content/defeating-violence-psychiatry Listening
will enable those who have suffered from trauma to heal fully and completely, but
it will take time.
Importantly, the rapist needs this
emotional support too. They have a long and painful childhood from which they
need a great deal of help to recover. It is this healing that will enable them
to accurately identify the perpetrators of the violence they suffered and about
whom they have so many suppressed (and now projected) feelings which need to be
felt and safely expressed.
You need a lot of empathy and the capacity
to listen to address violence in this context meaningfully and effectively. You
also need it to raise compassionate and powerful children in the first place.
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending
human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to
understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist
since 1981. He is the author of 'Why Violence?' http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence
Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic
Muslim News, Arab
World News, South
Asia News, Indian
Muslim News, World
Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic
In Arab, Islamophobia
in America, Muslim
Women in West, Islam
Women and Feminism