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Fighting Sexual Violation Across Cultures

By Jeanie Suh, Phoenix Risen

· Blog

Sexual violation is an issue that all cultures face, in varying degrees. In some countries, the most widespread issue lies in everyday sexism and rape culture, while other countries still battle child marriages.

Not all sexual violation problems are the same, so not all solutions to this widespread problem should be the same. Below, we'll highlight the main issues in five different areas of the world and the best tactics to combat each area's brand of sexual violation.

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The United States of America

Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America. The U.S. ranks high in volume of sexual violence reports, which means the country is doing comparatively well in encouraging victims to speak up. The problem is that no one truly listens.

Sexual violence has permeated American culture through media. Americans are so normalized to the idea of sexual violence, it's difficult to be shocked by the barrage of news announcing that another powerful male has been accused of sexual harassment.

The key to combatting sexual violation in the U.S. is introducing comprehensive sexuality education in tandem with physical sex education. Teaching children consent, and normalizing the idea of consent and healthy sex and gender dynamics will bring a better future to the United States.

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India

The rape epidemic in India is horrifying. In India, a woman is raped every 15 minutes. Though many blame the demographic disproportion between men and women, countries like China do not face the same issues with sexual violence.

The critical issue is a culture that does not value women and a society where few women have power over their own lives. The caste system makes it easy to prey on women of lower power, in lower castes. The caste system increases the power differentials that encourage sexual violence.

India needs a hybrid solution where legislation and law enforcement takes charges seriously and arrests and punishes offenders. India must also encourage boys to take responsibility and protect and respect the women of their country. Boys must be taught healthy masculinity and that trying to seek power over those who are already weak is not power at all.

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Brasil

Sexual violation is rampant in a culture where catcalling is seen as compliments and daily sexual harassment is simply seen as an annoyance that women must learn to deal with. 59% of Brasilians said there would be fewer rapes if women knew how to behave.

Survivors must speak up and campaign to bring this silent problem to the forefront of Brasilian politics. Rape crisis centers and other local resources must be established to provide victims with legal, medical, and psychological care. Currently, only 37 centers service 5,000 cities to provide healthcare to rape victims.

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South Africa

Labelled as the "rape capital of the world," one in three women surveyed had said they'd been raped in the past year. There is not just one reason South Africa suffers from sexual violence, but the two key issues most often pointed out are an enduring culture of hyper-masculinity and a distrust of government institutions.

Though hyper-masculinity can be solved through many generations of reeducation for boys and girls, South Africa's corrupt government and police force requires international entities, such as the UN, to keep the South African government in check and motivate and aid them to do better for their people.

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Sweden

Sweden is a bit of a paradox. Though the country has never been ranked below fourth on the The Global Gender Gap report, the country ranks #1 in Europe for the highest rates of rape and other sexually violent crimes. Thousands of Swedes flooded the #MeToo hashtag, and pop icons reported on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the Swedish music industry.

Only to complicate the issue of sexual violence in Sweden is the country's current anti-immigrant sentiment and ongoing issue of xenophobia reporting that refugees are the cause of increasing rape rates. It's crucial to remember that the narrative spread of "blonde, white natives are being attacked by dark-skinned foreigners" is often overheated and that a large portion of sexual assault cases are ones where the victims are often refugees or immigrants themselves.

The Swedish population must continue to voice the injustice of sexual violation in their country, especially when the world and the nation itself takes pride in their "gender equal" status. It must be announced, loudly, that there is still a problem of gender-based violence in a country that is known to be progressive.

The government must rethink its outdated laws on sexual assault and update them to be more responsive to the current situation, and communities must continue to create safe spaces to reduce opportunistic assaults.

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