It never ceases to shock me how cases like this seem to pop up a lot in the most religious countries, regardless of the actual religion.

By "cases like this", I mean the kind of sexual violence followed by the blaming of the victim. It's always deeply disturbing to see people place the responsibility for the attack on the victim. In addition, I have heard the "religious" explanation as well.

  • if I have urges, impulses or dysfunctions, they come from the way God made me.
  • if I do something bad, I will confess my weakness and God will forgive me. All I need to do is stay out of the reach of men
  • my victim didn't follow our precepts of religious modesty, thus triggering my God-given urges

I don't know whether there is a true correlation between the attitude and this kind of event, but it's difficult not to see the way reporting is being done.

In true secular countries, events are reported and followed carefully because they tend to be rare (the Koeln horror show is doubly important given the international and organisation of perpetrators). In cases like this, a third element of shock is the laissez-faire attitude of both media and public. Can't say it's surprising given the quoted statistics: nearly 50k rapes reported representing around 35% of presumed cases (to be faire, the latter number is almost 5 years old).

I wish I was surprised. I wish I'd live in a world where these occurrences are rare, where humans would have created a safe places for victims to have their pleas heard and for perpetrators to be held accountable. I wish the media wouldn't see this as normal and skip the reporting altogether (or delay it once it comes out).

Where to look for answers?

  • dress codes? sorry, first of all nobody should dress out of fear of bodily harm (unless you're a policeman, then I guess body armour is is highly recommended) and secondly it's a grave thing to shift responsibility for someone else's urges
  • media? in a world where people use people for gain (as capitalism teaches us), objectifying exists. Football players are still being bought and sold on contracts. Models of both genders sell their looks to promote merchandise. Anyone who gets in the spotlight becomes an object serving a purpose. If we give in to this mentality it means we're equalling any woman (or man) around us to what we see on billboards or on TV. It means we've stopped looking at the person next to us as an individual. But the media is here to sell, not to educate ... so let's look at the next point.
  • education? well, here's something. How about teaching personal responsibility? Respect? Equality? Civic duty? That others are not creations that come and go but they are people affected by your choices? You are responsible for your decisions and their consequences. Nobody else, ever.

The thing about the religious element is that everyone picks whatever suits them from the mix. Is there a way to cast responsibility elsewhere? Then let's pick that interpretation.

If I were religious (which I'm not), I'd look at this:

A King may move a man, a father may claim a son, but remember that even when those who move you be Kings, or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God, you cannot say, "But I was told by others to do thus." Or that, "Virtue was not convenient at the time." This will not suffice. Remember that.
- Kingdom of Heaven