Blog News & Updates Rape Culture Sexual Assault

We must end victim-blaming now

by Rio Hoe
The views expressed in this article are Rio’s own. The original article can be found here.

Victim-blaming is unacceptable. It is illogical and rests on a failure to distinguish the importance of precautions and the idea that people deserve to suffer for failing to take them. Rape is a deliberate act; the wrong always lies with the perpetrator, and never the victim.

In the context of rape, victim-blaming is unacceptable. Yet, it happens more often than we think. Take a look at some of the comments on a recent news article by ChannelNews Asia titled, ‘Man on trial for abducting and raping unconscious woman 15 years younger’ (Mar 30).

This above comment was the comment with the most ‘likes’ at time this blog entry was written. The comments section can be found here. There are more:

Rape is avoidable, if men don’t rape.

These sort of views are regressive. People who are raped do not “ask for it”. Rapists are not jailed “because she (the victim) said so”. In the context of rape, it does not “take 2 hands to clap” – in fact, that contradicts the very definition of rape as non-consensual sex. And finally, yes, rape is avoidable, if men don’t rape.

The wrong in rape is the wrong committed by the offender through a deliberate act of penetration despite the victim’s refusal, or inability to give consent. The victim commits no wrong. Even if the victim placed herself in a vulnerable position, it does not at all reduce the wrong committed by the offender. Thinking otherwise is illogical. If we blame rape victims for doing things that increase the likelihood of rape, shouldn’t we also condemn murder victims for failing to carry a weapon, or failing to end an abusive relationship, since these could have avoided a murder? Shouldn’t we also condemn people who become victims of harassment and abuse because they share political views which people dislike, since “they could have kept their mouth shut?”. We don’t, because we understand that people have a right not to be murdered, and a right to express their political views without being abused, or worse, physically harmed. So why do some people not accept that people have a right not to be raped? The fact is, victim-blaming is a problematic and illogical practice, and we should be unafraid to call people out on it, and put an end to it.

I can anticipate several responses to my claims. I will address just three of them for now.

First, one might ask: ‘does this mean we shouldn’t take precautions?’ Of course not. I do not think it is wrong to tell our friends and family to watch their drinks to prevent ‘spiking’, or to moderate their alcohol intake. But we should only do so because we are aware that the world is filled with people with bad intentions, and because we realize society is imperfect, and people do commit wrongs against women. But we should not do so because we believe that failing to take precautions puts the victim in the wrong. These are two very different attitudes to have; the latter constitutes victim-blaming, and is unacceptable.

There is a difference between reminding people to take care of themselves, and to blame them when a bad thing happens to them because they failed to do so

There is a difference between reminding people to take care of themselves, and to tell people that they are to blame when a bad thing happens to them because they failed to take care of themselves. Too many people fail to make this distinction.

Second, one might ask: in cases, such as in car accidents, the liability of the wrongdoer is reduced if the victim’s actions increased the likelihood of the wrong occurring. For example, if I ride my motorbike dangerously, or dash across the road, someone who knocks me down with his car will pay less compensation than if I had used a zebra crossing. So why should this not apply to rape? This argument is not uncommon – I encountered it in the same comments section as the comments above:

Deliberate wrongs belong to a special class of wrongs which attract condemnation despite a victims’ actions.

There is, in fact, a huge difference. In the case of motor accidents, the harm is caused (you guessed it), by accident. This changes the nature of the wrong; it is what we can call an accidental wrong. Hence, the traffic accident case is a different type of case from rape, which is a deliberate wrong. Think about it this way: if someone sets out to murder me by running me over with his car, surely I am not to be blamed for failing to use the overhead bridge, or for leaving my house in the first place. The murderer, through his/her deliberate acts, committed a wrong, and this causes my actions to ‘drop out of the picture’. Deliberate wrongs belong to a special class of wrongs which attract condemnation despite a victims’ actions. This is because the responsibility of the wrongdoer, having direct his/her free will towards causing harm, becomes the focus of our moral and legal censure.

Rapes are caused by people. They are not things that happen to people

Remember that rapes are caused by people. They are not things that happen to people. It is not like getting struck by lightning, or being crushed by a falling tree. Rape is a deliberate act, committed with the intention to harm. Hence, the wrong in rape lies solely with the rapist, never the victim.

Third, one might ask: where it is ‘easy’ to avoid rape, shouldn’t victims attract some blame if they fail to do so? In response, I argue that it is not for anyone to say what is ‘easy’ for someone else. As seen from the comments above, some victim-blamers suggest that for women, it is as ‘easy’ as, for example, not drinking, or avoiding the company of men who have previously made advances towards them.

This is wrong, and let me explain why. Women are already disadvantaged in the workplace due to sexist attitudes, and the fact that corporate leadership remains male-dominated (I recently wrote an article on this). It is unlikely that they can avoid the advancements of their male colleagues, or avoid corporate events that include alcohol, if they wish to advance their careers, since these actions may be seen by the male-led corporate leadership as being ‘unsociable’, or failing to be a ‘team-player’.

Hence, the argument that vulnerable situations are ‘easy’ to avoid ignores the unequal power structures that women have to deal with on a daily basis. In the rape case reported above, for example, it was reported that ‘the victim tolerated Ong’s (the rapist) advances so as not to jeopardise her internship at an F&B company whose owners were friends with the accused’.

I am glad that in the comments section of the above-mentioned news article, some people have called out victim-blamers for their ill-founded views. However the fact that victim-blaming comments regularly end up as the ‘top’ comments (with the most ‘likes’) demonstrate the pervasiveness of this regressive mentality in our society. I hope that my contribution will help people call out those who victim-blame, and explain to them why they are wrong, and why their attitudes must change.


This post was contributed by Rio Hoe of ConsensusSG.


Purple-haired slut

Written by Tammy Lim, Change Maker

1I always aspired to be a purple-haired unicorn once I was done with Junior College. It was only after A-levels that I could reclaim my body as an individual, since the idea of ridiculously strict dress codes will not apply in my life (for the time being). After highlighting my hair a brilliant purple (I wanted to dye my whole head purple but my parents said it would be ‘weird’), I was then still called ‘weird’ by several of my male classmates. I casually brushed the comments off, until it escalated to the point that it became slut-shaming.

One day, when my brother’s friends were over, I joined them for dinner. My brother, one of the few people who thought my purple hair was cool, excitedly told his friends that I had dyed my hair. That friend of his commented, “Well, at least you’re not like the other girls who dye their hair.” That statement raised a red flag in my mind, so in response, I prompted, “What do you mean by ‘the other girls’?”. To which he replied in a strangely matter-of-fact way, “They’re sluts.” That answer caused an eruption of laughter among my brother and his friends, while it left my mouth hanging open, blood boiling and very appalled.

It seemed like an incredibly innocuous incident that girls with dyed hair would encounter, but I found it extremely disturbing instead.

It was disconcerting to me when my brother’s friends were laughing at how other girls with dyed hair were called ‘sluts’, because it reinforced the notion that it was perfectly acceptable and even  hilarious to call girls derogatory terms for their own pleasure, even though it made no sense. Also, them laughing stems from self-righteous behaviour: knowing that labelling others ‘sluts’ places themselves on a pedestal above girls who have many sexual partners (although it is truly alright to have many sexual partners). However, this present an ironic double standard as boys are celebrated for being sexual, since it is a sign of their supposed masculinity.

It was also strange that my brother’s friends made a mysterious correlation between having brightly coloured hair and being a slut – how does such brilliantly colourful hair even relate to a person having loads of sex? To me, they were being illogical and anyway, it is no one’s business to know if a person has loads of sex and much less condemn it. Though them spouting the common rhetoric that I’m “not like the other girls” was only said to make me feel like I’m the ‘special one’ who is exempted from the brutal ‘slut’ label, it does not make them any less offensive, because it is still sexist.

From this incident, I realized that slut-shaming has grown from bad to worse. It used to be an insult to girls who have sexual agency, but now, it has evolved to a derogatory umbrella term used to punish girls who deviate from the eye-pleasing and feminine ideal of a girl, even when it is completely unrelated to their sexuality. Imposing such an ideal on girls is not only harsh but also dehumanizing, as girls are expected to be sexy, but not sexual, which in itself is contradictory.

Since the incident, I have been trying to think of ways that I could have countered their misogynistic ways. It dawned upon me that it is much more difficult that simply telling them off: how was I supposed to educate a group of males who enjoyed degrading women in the most ridiculous ways? I still struggle to answer this question till today, but I believe the key is to show that feminism is not meant to police and oppress men (and women also), but rather that feminism liberates and benefits everyone, regardless of gender, through its inclusive nature.

To show others such problematic behaviour that is entrenched in their beliefs is akin to presenting themselves with a mirror and pointing out their flaws – something that is incredibly painful for them to recognise and change.

Slut-shaming is a pervasive form of sexist behaviour that should be eliminated. We all ought to think twice before we scream ‘slut’ at a girl who is simply choosing to take ownership of her body – we should simply respect that.

2About the Writer: Tammy is a recent A level graduate who occasionally writes about feminism and enjoys learning more about gender equality advocacy work, how to fight the patriarchy and being a better feminist. She is constantly with E.T pointing at a new horizon that is bright and full of gender equality.


A platform of sexism

Anonymous blog post

A while ago, I found out the most horrifying thing about a close friend of mine. He was using the fact that I was a legal adult but still able to pull off a schoolgirl look to feed his fetishes. We agreed to have a shoot and at that time, I thought it was only for artistic and photographic purposes.

That was, until my friends showed me a forum where this close friend of mine is a member. What I read in the forum filled me with utter horror.

There is a thread in the forum where men discuss their fetish for various secondary school uniforms in Singapore. They were posting pictures of them ejaculating on the uniforms, asking for suggestions on which school uniform they should cum on next and cheering each other on. This close friend of mine also posted some pictures of him ejaculating on several secondary school uniforms. The worst thing was that some users shared the photos of the girls whose uniforms they had ejaculated on. Those girls are just secondary school girls!

This forum is none other than Sammyboy Forum.

A quick glance at the rest of the forum made me understand why the moderators did not do anything about the thread. Sammyboy Forum is a place where discussion about any type of fetish and any topic of sexual nature is acceptable, regardless of how non-consensual the activity or hateful the discussion. There is even a place for users to share uncensored photos of girls they had sex or nude photoshoots with, with or without their consent. Users also share tips about how to sexually groom a girl into agreeing to take nude photoshoots.

Why is such a forum allowed to exist? A forum where women are nothing but sexual objects to satisfy the fetishes of the users. A forum where women are trophies and prizes in the eyes of those users.

I understand that we need a venue to share and discuss sexual fantasies because sexual freedom is important in our conservative culture. But there should be limits to that. Every party involved should be consenting. Every party involved should be treated as a person with feelings and needs, instead of being objectified as a fetish object. What would the impact be on a young person who happened to stumble upon this forum? What would they believe to be the norm with regards to sex and women?

I hope that something can be done about this forum, and its contents to be moderated. Sexual freedom should be encouraged in Singapore, but learning to respect a person and understand consent is important as well.


When rape is used as a plot device

Written by Yong Hui, Change Maker

[Warning: This blog post contains discussions of sexual assault.]

Just a few weeks ago, the TV show Game of Thrones sparked a massive controversy over a certain scene in one of their episodes – that is, the scene where (spoiler alert) Sansa is raped by Ramsay as Theon is forced to watch.

As The Mary-Sue puts it aptly:

“The show has creators. They make the choices. They chose to use rape as a plot device. Again.”

gotFor anyone who’s so much as heard of Game of Thrones, it’s probably of no surprise to find out that one of the most distinctive elements of the show is its gratuitous use of violence. Unfortunately, this also incl udes sexual violence against women, and even more unfortunately, Game of Thrones definitely isn’t the first or only use of sexual violence as a storytelling trope in mainstream media. Just check out this TvTropes page for a small taster.

And guess what? This phenomenon isn’t solely confined to Western media. Yes, the innocent Channel 8 dramas we all know and love are guilty of this as well.

Does anyone remember The Little Nyonya? That show back from 2008 that everyone used to be obsessed with? I was eleven when I watched that show. Apart from the ridiculousness that was casting Jeanette Aw as two consecutive generations of women who just happened to look exactly alike, one particular plot line remains clear in my mind:

littlenonyaHuang Yuzhu, played by Joanne Peh, is a young girl born into an affluent family. She is kind, helpful, bubbly, and generally a pretty nice person.

Her most prominent plot line is getting raped, being married off to said rapist, being physically and emotionally abused by him, being forced into prostitution to aid his business deals, and as a result of this, ultimately going insane and being committed to a mental institution for the rest of her life.

This was a good seven years ago, but this practice of using rape as a plot device is still continuing.

The New Paper ran an article last year where Chris Tong, a Mediacorp actress, describes her role as a “long-suffering, docile housewife character” who is “repeated abused by her businessman husband”, and the arduous process of having to film six separate rape scenes for the period drama The Journey: A Voyage (aka 唐山到南洋).

channel8Clearly, local media has developed the very, very problematic habit of using rape as an easy and convenient plot device. And even more clearly, this has to stop.

The problem isn’t so much in the inherent fact that rape is being depicted on television – the problem is how it’s depicted, the motives behind choosing this particular plot line, and the very worrying frequency with which it’s used over and over again in different TV series.

Let’s start with the how. The problem lies in the depiction of rape survivors. Most, if not all of the time, they’re depicted as ‘damaged goods’, with irreparable damage being inflicted on them by their attackers. It’s terrifyingly common for rape victims to later go insane from the trauma. There’s never really any hope of recovery. And therein lies the problem – that women are depicted as powerless agents, that we have quite clearly done a terrible job of telling the narrative of a rape survivors. Where are the narratives of women overcoming the trauma? Of recovery and rehabilitation? Well apparently they don’t exist. Once the deed is done the woman is forever broken.

As to the motives, it’s quite obvious that rape is being used purely to titillate viewers, and for the pure shock factor of it instead of reflecting the severity of the crime and the (real, actual) consequences on the victim. Rape is often nothing more than a plot device used to generate sympathy/ire at the victim/attacker.

The fact that this problem is so pervasive, the fact that a rape scene can even be shown on a primetime television slot at all – and has been shown, over and over again – reflects very poorly on Singaporean society as a whole.

It’s clear that we still have a long way to go – so where do we go from here?

The best way I can think of is to make some noise. Make yourself heard. Tell people about this problem – it’s so insidious and so normalized and some people may not even realize that it’s a problem in the first place. Educate people.

Be loud. Take a stand. And maybe one day we’ll get there.

For now, though, I like to just turn off my TV and go watch some good old Orphan Black instead.

About the Author: Yong Hui is currently a J2 student in an institution which shall not be named. She’s a huge fan of Broadway musicals, and spends far too much time on Tumblr reblogging gifs of said musicals. When she’s not busy being a Changemaker, she’s probably trying frantically to make change to her dismal Econs grades.

This article was edited on 23 June 2017


A statistical approach to ‘She cried rape’

by Min, Change Maker

article-new-thumbnail-ehow-images-a07-of-7f-out-police-interrogation-800x800-2A scantily-clad woman with a black dress, high heels, red lipstick and smoky eye make-up approaches the officer. The officer stares at her, scrutinising her from head to toe. He shakes his head.

“So, you say you’ve been raped?” he asks.

The woman nods. Despite her strong and confident outer appearance, inside, she is scared. She is trying not to think about it, but she is deeply traumatised.

“Really? But you followed him back to his apartment willingly,” he questions her skeptically. Glancing at the documents, he adds, “Besides, you have a very active sex life. 100 men in a year, I hear.”

She sighs. They don’t believe her.

Her case is not uncommon in Singapore. In fact, until 2012, Section 157(d) of the Evidence Act made it possible to discredit a victim of sexual assault based on her sexual history. This means that if a victim is known to be a very sexually active person, the judges are less likely to believe that she has been sexually assaulted or raped.

There are several reasons why people would think a woman would cry rape. The reasons ranges from revenge to regretting a one night’s stand.

However, how many of rape accusations are really false allegations?

The percentage of false rape allegations cases are few, even insignificant

The numbers may be shocking to some. In the United States, 8% of rape allegations are false. In other countries, it ranges from between 1.5% to 10%. Research by National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women reports through research that 2 to 8% of rape allegations are false.

This means that when a woman claims to be raped, often times than not, she is telling the truth.

Besides, false rape allegations are also unlikely to happen because of stigma attached to having been raped


Society has a wide range of negative responses to someone who’s been raped. Victim-blaming is common, blaming them for dressing too inappropriately and/or simply ‘asking for it’. Society might look down upon them, and perceive them as ‘cheap’ and ‘used’, because they are no longer ‘innocent’. Other times, they will be told to keep silent, because being raped is disgraceful.

Hence, it is even more unlikely that a woman would risk all that just to pretend to be a rape victim.

In fact, many cases of rape or sexual assault go unreported

In Singapore, 90% of sexual crimes are not reported. A survey has also shown that 75% of physical and sexual violence cases are unreported.

As friends and family, we should do our best to be understanding and supportive whenever our loved ones confide in us about a sexual assault or rape. Being judgmental or brushing the topic aside only risks denying justice to those who experience rape or sexual assault.


imagesI strongly believe we, not just as a society but as family and friends of someone who’s been raped, should listen attentively whenever someone confides in us instead of jumping to conclusions straightaway. I have never had any friends who have been raped, but I do know that if I had one, I would listen to their story and support them all the way. After all, what is a friend if they won’t believe your side of the story?

I think society should also be more mindful when making assumptions about a person. It does not mean a woman is lying about rape just because she was sexually active, may have agreed to be alone with the man and/or had said initially yes to a sexual advance.

Rape can happen to anyone.

About the author: Min is someone who is not afraid to speak out if she believes that something needs to be said or done. Many a times, her strong passion and faith in her beliefs lead to little changes being done. She hopes that others will do the same.


Busting Rape Myths

1: Rapists are usually strangers.

In Singapore and around the world, most sexual assault is committed by someone known to the victim. Sexual assault can be committed by a date, friends, family members, intimate partners or spouses. Around the world, acquaintance rape is much more common than stranger rape, and makes up close to 80% of all rape cases1.

Rubbed Wrong Way

2: Women say “no” to sex when they actually mean “yes”.

When someone says no, always take it to mean no. Trust that they know best, and take them at face value. Only treat an active, enthusiastic “yes” as consent to sexual activity. It is better to forego sex than to potentially molest or rape someone.

3: Women often “cry rape” – i.e. make false reports of rape to seek attention, take revenge on men or because they are in denial that they consented to sex.

False allegations of rape are statistically insignificant2 and are no more common than false reports of any other crime. Rape is the most under-reported crime in the world3. Feelings of shame and self-doubt, as well as fear of stigma and not being believed, often prevent victims from coming forward. To encourage more victims to report, we must debunk this myth.

4: Someone who’s drunk can’t say no to sex, so it’s not rape to perform sexual acts on them.

Someone who is drunk can’t say yes to sex! Silence or submission is not consent. The individual must be able and willing to give informed consent to sex. Sexual activity with someone whose judgment is impaired by intoxicants, or who is unconscious, is sexual assault.

5: A woman who flirts with a man, goes back to his apartment, makes out with him or shares a bed with him cannot claim rape.

These circumstances, and others, do not excuse rape. Neither do they make rape the woman’s fault. Consent has to be explicit and sought for each stage of intimacy. It can also be withdrawn at any point. Whenever someone asks to stop, others must respect that choice. Continuing or coercing the person makes it assault. Blaming the victim because of the way she was dressed, because she has been intimate with the man before, or because she trusted and felt comfortable with the man prior to the assault, shows a denial of women’s right to choose with whom and when they have sex. It also excuses rapists and perpetuates sexual violence in society.

6: Rape happens because men can’t control their sexual urges.

Studies show that men rape because they feel a sense of sexual entitlement4. In other words, men rape because they can get away with it. Rape is a violent act that involves taking agency away from someone and exerting control over them – it is a crime of power. People of all genders have sexual urges, and they all also have the power to control them.

7: It’s only rape if the woman struggled and tried to fight it off physically. If there are no bruises or blood, it can’t be rape.

Sexual assault is not just physical coercion, but psychological coercion. In cases of psychological coercion (e.g. the victim is blackmailed or pressurised) or where the woman is afraid or unable to resist (e.g. the victim is drunk, unconscious, tired or too terrified), there is seldom physical violence or force. An assault can occur without visible evidence of force or resistance. Faced with the threat of rape, victims of assault may freeze or surrender, as they believe (and it’s often true) that this minimises harm and pain5. Submission is not  consent, and doesn’t make what happened less of a rape.


8: Sex workers or women who are very sexually active shouldn’t be taken seriously when they report rape.

Any sexual activity without consent is sexual assault, no matter who the people involved are or what their relationship is. Similarly, a person’s sexual history or experience of sex work does not mean that they cannot be assaulted. As long as they didn’t consent to that instance of sex with that person, it is rape.

9: Men cannot be sexually assaulted.

While most rapes occur against women, men can also be victims of sexual assault. Although Singapore’s Penal Code narrowly defines ‘rape’ as a crime that cannot be committed by a woman against a man, there is also the crime of ‘sexual penetration’ which carries the same penalties and criminalises non-consensual penetration of men. However, social stigma remains a serious barrier toward male victims seeking help. This isn’t helped by popular culture treating the rape of male prisoners as a joke or a perverse form of “justice”.


1. Bureau of Justice Statistics. (1995). National Crime Victimization Survey.

2. Lonsway, K., Archambault, J., & Lisak, D. (2009) False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault. The National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women.

3. Justice Department. (2008-2012). National Crime Victimization Survey.

4. Jewkes, R., Fulu, E., Roselli, T., Garcia-Moreno, C. (2013). Prevalence of and factors associated with non-partner rape perpetration: findings from the UN Multi-country Cross-sectional Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific. The Lancet Global Health.

5. Herman, J. L. (1992). Trauma and Recovery. Basic Books.


The Boys’ Club

by Visakan Veerasamy

I had a few buddies in NS whom I used to smoke with. They were decent, likeable guys, a mix of people from all over the place brought together by compulsory conscription. As our time in the army drew to a close, some of the guys decided we all ought to go clubbing together to celebrate. I’d always preferred kopitiams to clubs, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.

“Eh, make sure you bring girls ah!”

“Yeah, sure thing man!”

I said I would, but I didn’t. Why? At the time, I explained it away by telling myself that bringing friends along would “complicate” things unnecessarily.

Now that I think about it, it’s obvious that I didn’t want to introduce any of my female friends to my army buddies – at a subconscious level, I didn’t feel like I could trust the boys to treat my friends with respect. I instinctively knew that these two different worlds I inhabited couldn’t be allowed to collide. It could get ugly if they did.

When I met up with my friends on the evening of our clubbing plans, everyone was already drunk; they weren’t even in the club yet! They’d bought cheap drinks from elsewhere and had commenced getting plastered while playing drinking games on public benches. There were playing cards everywhere, soaked in beer and liquor.

My friends were with other people I didn’t recognise, who all looked really, really young. I received lots of hugs from drunken strangers who could barely stand straight. The girls – I later learned they were still in Junior College – wore heavy make-up to pass the bouncers’ scrutiny, and looked visibly uncomfortable in their heels, tugging awkwardly at their mini dresses. They coughed as they smoked.

And then something happened that I will remember forever. One of my buddies gave me a sleazy smile and wink, a gesture that told me he thought of these girls as prey – and that he expected me to participate in this ploy too. “Eh, look what I just snagged,” he seemed to be saying. “Not bad, ah?” He kept pushing drinks into the girls’ hands, with insistent encouragement for them to keep drinking, cheering and laughing.

One of them said she had a boyfriend. My buddy put his arm was around her waist. Was she uncomfortable? Probably, but I couldn’t be sure. In the haze of alcohol, smoke and peer pressure, nobody really knew what was going on.

I didn’t know how to deal with the uncomfortable situation back then – what were the rules of engagement for when your friends were plying girls who were too young to drink with alcohol, and it was clear they did not have good intentions? The girls were complaining about how Project Work was silly and pointless. I joked about how it was just preparing them for the working world, which was going to be more of the same. My buddy’s solution to their complaints? “Drink more!”

So I did. I joined in. If I drank my share, I reasoned to myself, everybody would get that much less drunk. Truthfully, though, I really just didn’t want to be sober in a difficult situation that was making me so uncomfortable.

I wish this story had a clear black-and-white ending, but it doesn’t. I got increasingly uncomfortable and ended up breaking away from the group to find myself a spot on the dance floor, where I tried to let the music drown out my thoughts. This was supposed to be a happy, fun experience. It wasn’t for me. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t for the girls I had just met. I think everybody went home separately that night, some of them crying and vomiting, all of them broke, but, thankfully, otherwise unharmed.

I’m glad for my story’s anticlimactic ending. The same scenario could have had so many alternative endings, which occur every day. Painting my friend as a single-minded lecherous rapist-in-waiting would be a gross misrepresentation. It was not, and rarely is, that clear-cut. I didn’t intervene that day because it didn’t seem like things were that bad. If the girls were truly upset or uncomfortable, surely they’d have said something, right? Just because my friend winked at me and put his arm around a girls’ waist didn’t mean anything, did it?

I know better now. Those young girls wouldn’t have said anything. And even if they had, they probably would’ve been mocked or ridiculed, told that they were being “sensitive” or “spoilsports”. If the guys had tried to take advantage of them, I can’t help but feel that things would have gone badly if nobody else said anything. If I didn’t say anything. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.

If I ever find myself in a situation like this again, I will do exactly what I should have done that day: taken them aside and asked them directly if they were okay. Or taken my friend aside and told him that what he was doing was not cool. I could have even found an alternate activity to disrupt the uncomfortable situation.

All of this was years ago. Since then, I’ve learnt that so much of sexual assault happens in the grey areas between yes and no, between fear and uncertainty, when no one – especially people who are indirectly implicated – really knows what to do or what’s going on.

I’ve learnt that it’s not something that happens to strangers. Some people really close to me have been raped or sexually harassed. And more importantly, I’ve since reached a painful realisation: I am a part of this problem. Because those who are raped are not strangers to me, but neither are those who rape. The rapists and sexual abusers aren’t monsters who emerge from the sewers, pathologically afflicted and lacking a conscience. They’re ordinary folk who live among us. We serve NS alongside them. We smoke cigarettes with them. And when we laugh at lines such as “kill the man, rape my girlfriend,” we make them feel more comfortable about treating others with disrespect.

So, no. It’s not cool, it’s not funny, and it’s definitely not okay.


Rape culture is our problem too

[two_third] In an article in The Kent Ridge Common, Sakunika Wewalaarachchi looks at the fixation that the world, including Singapore, had on the gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi in 2012. Part of this fixation was the tendency to characterise rape and misogyny as endemic to the Indian culture.

Protest against rape

In fact, women around the world only stand to suffer more when rape culture and misogyny are perceived as the product of conditions specific to a country – low levels of education, poverty, lack of economic development or modernisation, “backwardness” – and not as problems in themselves. Rape culture is not the inevitable result of these social conditions. Conversely, it is not true that having better social conditions means rape culture naturally dies out. This is a dangerous notion to have, because it breeds complacency and retards the progression of gender equality.

Rape culture does not arise from income and education levels, but from attitudes and beliefs that privilege male gratification at the expense of the freedom and security of women. Such attitudes and beliefs can be found anywhere and in every country, in a shack in a shanty town, as on the top floor of a glittery skyscraper. While rightly feeling outrage at incidences of rape that occur anywhere in the world, we must remember to look towards home, and not ignore the hornets’ nest in our own backyard. [/two_third]


10 ways men can prevent gender-based violence

This is part of an article that originally appeared in Feminist Wire on May 15, 2013 – by Sacchi Patel



  1. Communicate. One of our largest problems is that we do not talk. No one is a mind-reader. If we talk with our partners, we can understand each other’s wishes, thoughts, and desires. Consent should never be assumed.
  2. Educate Yourself. There is lot of information on Domestic Violence that we ought to learn and understand. “1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime,” “1.3 million women are physically assaulted each year in the US,” and “every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted” are all undeniable statistics, and need acknowledgement and continuing press coverage.
  3. Contribute. We ought to give our time, thoughts, and even monetary donations to helping stop all forms of violence against women. Assistance is always needed, and there are many ways for us to get involved and support the cause.
  4. Support Victims/Survivors. We can be there for those who have been victimized by domestic violence or sexual assault. This might mean driving someone to the hospital, accompanying a victim to court or the police station, or even just sitting and listening to the survivor.
  5. Organize. As men, we can create or join a movement against DV.
  6. Act. Rather than watch abuse happen, we can take a more proactive role and become empowered bystanders. This means standing up, speaking out, intervening in potentially harmful situations, or alerting others for assistance. There is always something we can do.
  7. Choose Words Thoughtfully. We must understand the impact of our language and the words that we use. Using words like bitch, ho, and slut to describe women makes it easy for our whole society to view women as inferior.
  8. Talk with/listen to Women. Women have spoken out for decades, trying to spread awareness. It is time to have those conversations with women and learn their thoughts about living with threats of violence on a daily basis. We can also find out ways that we can support women best.
  9. Talk with Men. We can engage in dialogue with other men about how domestic violence has impacted their lives. We can explore feelings and the costs of being regarded as potential perpetrators of violence, while learning how to best support male-identifying survivors. Talking with other men will also allow a space to discuss ideas on how to challenge and stand up against domestic violence.
  10. Lead by Example. Never disregard, excuse, commit, or remain silent about any violence, and particularly that against women and girls. We can be role models for other men and boys in our communities. We can teach our children to be respectful and never abusive toward women. We can be good fathers and equal partners in our relationships.

[one_third last=last]