Rape is a serious issue that has debilitating and tragic effects on anyone who’s ever been sexually assaulted.
It’s not something to be taken lightly, but in some cultures, sexual assault is common place and widely accepted as “normal.”
A 20-year-old Muslim refugee from Myanmar admitted to raping a 10-year-old refugee who was staying in the same home, according to the Daily Mail.
Court documents reveal Mufiz Rahaman, who was staying as a refugee in Australia, crept into the boy’s room while the child’s father was making lunch in January 2015. He took down the boy’s pants and underwear and sexually assaulted him before the father came storming in.
Rahaman said he thought sexual assault was “not morally wrong” in his home country, and that he was sexually assaulted himself as a child.
He tried to pay the boy for what had happened, saying again that it was “culturally acceptable” where he was from, but when the incident was reported to authorities, Rahman was sentenced to five years in jail. He won’t be eligible for parole until March 2018, due to the “high risk” of him sexually assaulting others.
The horrific incident sheds light on how rape is viewed and, oftentimes, swept under the rug in different cultures.
For example, police in Myanmar say there are only about 700 rape cases reported each year, with likely many more that go unreported.
Hla Hla Yee, director of Legal Clinic Myanmar, tells Myanmar Now that many victims refuse to speak about it in fear of bringing shame to their families, which only perpetuates a culture of “silence and victim blaming”:
“Some abused women are hesitant to file a complaints about rape at the court or police station —- this has created challenges for us.
We found a shocking number of child rape case last year.”
And in Afghanistan, sexually abusing children, particularly boys, is rampant.
A recent New York Times report gave the example of Afghan police officers abusing boys brought to the base for them to have sex.
American solider Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. brought the issue to light in 2012, telling his father he heard boys “screaming” at night, but wasn’t allowed to say anything.
His father, Gregory Buckley Sr., told the Times:
“My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”
But it’s not just Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian countries that have a “rape culture,” it’s a problem in African countries, too.
In Somalia, the Human Rights Watch group found one-third of sexual assault victims are children.
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) spokesperson Jens Laerke told reporters in 2013 that most of the perpetrators were men:
“Rapes continue to be perpetrated by unknown armed men and men wearing military uniform. Sexual and gender-based violence also includes domestic violence, harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, and early and forced marriage…the majority of the survivors were women aged 18 and above.”
The National Center for Victims of Crime says the effects of a child being sexually abused are life-changing.
Here are just a few of the things these victims will likely endure in their lifetime:
- Thumb-sucking and bed-wetting in younger children
- Sleep disturbances
- Eating problems
- Behavior and/or performance problems at school
- Unwillingness to participate in school or social activities
- Alcoholism or drug abuse
- Anxiety attacks
Victims like Rahaman’s might also have their sexuality develop “inappropriately,” causing them to become “interpersonally dysfunctional.”