“Five of us banging one”
by Adriana Bertorelli
What kind of person writes that message to his friends? What kind of people make a video of a gang rape, in “pack”, name of the WhatsApp group, and send it to those friends who couldn’t go to the party? And what kind of person replies “Motherfuckers, so envious! That’s a hell of a party” after watching his friends taking turns to rape a frightened teenager? Who raised those people? Where did they grow? Who were their classmates, girlfriends or loved ones?
Perhaps, they are people like you and me. Maybe, those five friends, today imprisoned, and the other seven, who couldn’t go to that “hell of a party”, are not much different from our neighbors. Probably, they seem like kind people, help others with their shopping bags, and pay their taxes on time. It is that gender-based violence is an institution so deeply rooted that it has almost become a part of normal life.
Let’s check out the context. Spain, specifically Pamplona, annually celebrates “Sanfermines”, a pagan religious festivity. Every year, during this celebration, there are numerous cases of male violence that go from unwanted groping to rapes with penetration. Victims often do not take action, even though authorities are more alert and there are phone lines open to take action. This summer, five friends, one of them a civil guard, agreed to rape an 18 year old girl. They volunteered to take her to her car and later called her an “experienced whore” in their messages.
This happened in Pamplona, although this could have occurred in any other city or country. Such is the case of Montañita, Ecuador, where two young Argentinean girls were raped and murdered. The first action of Ecuador’s government was to ask why their parents allowed them to travel by themselves and if they were wearing revealing clothes. It seems that independence and style are reasons to take someone’s body, someone’s life.
I don’t know a woman who hasn’t had to walk faster because someone was following her, or who hasn’t experienced an uncomfortable situation with a friend’s dad or brother that got closer than he should have, or hasn’t listened to all kind of obscenities while passing by a construction site.
Yes, male violence is everywhere, and we accept it as part of our lives, so we can not see it.Shame and fear of humiliation prevent accusation. This makes it difficult to obtain precise figures and follow every case.
For example, the case of Linda Loaiza López in Venezuela. She was kidnapped, handcuffed, beaten and raped at the age of 18. Her aggressor, Luis Carrera Almoina, the son of a Dean of a renown Venezuelan University, tried to drown her. Then, he took her to his place, threatened her with a firearm, tore her vagina with blunt objects, burned her, and ripped parts of her lips and breasts. He tortured her for three months. He broke her jawbone in three parts and a rib, and chopped her pinnas off. The country’s legal system ignored her. 59 judges recused themselves from the case. Her hearings were postponed 38 times. Although 76 justice system personnel had access and ignored the case, Linda began a hunger strike and got a legal appeal.
After 15 surgeries and almost two years in hospitals since 2001, Linda Loaiza became a lawyer to express and understand the horrors she had lived. As she couldn’t make her voice heard in her country, she brought her case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This is the first Venezuelan gender-based violence case being processed in this organization.
About 120 million girls and teenagers around the world have experienced forced sexual intercourse. To understand the extent of the tragedy: a big country like Mexico has a population of 120 million;
the same number of devastated and humiliated lives. And this number only includes known cases of minors. How about those that are not reported?
Confronted by a monster of this magnitude, education, information and courageously reporting remain of the utmost importance. It is necessary to not accept violence as normal. We have to fight together against it. We have to prepare future generations. We should teach victims never to accept humiliation from questions like “why were you alone?” “What were you wearing?”
In cases of male violence, the victim will never be guilty. Never!