Plea in the Dark: A poem and essay.

She mumbled a prayer, 

Then yelped out in pain, 

As she clutched her side, 

Alone in the rain. 

 

Her parents wouldn’t look at her, 

As she wept in their hall. 

They didn’t have to say a word, 

The shame said it all. 

 

In the shower that night, 

The day’s grime washed down the drain. 

But she wasn’t rid of the smell of him, 

That smell would always remain. 

 

She tried to tell the police, 

But, again, her pleas were unheard. 

They wouldn’t take her statement, 

Since her memory was so blurred. 

 

She went to the clinic, 

They all said it was for the best, 

But she couldn’t go through with it, 

With the beat of that little chest. 

 

It swelled, a great mass, between them, 

And caused painful and needless feuds. 

Because he was only a kid himself, 

And it could not be his issue. 

 

Forced to grow up too fast, 

She muffled her cries, 

as childhood bloomed where it had 

Seeped out between her thighs. 

 

My token from time,  

Enormously small, 

Dropped from above. 

 

You are what you would have been, 

But I am not what I should have been. 

 

“An estimated one in five women have been sexually assaulted during her college years,” Barack Obama announced in 2014. The President argued that the Western World suffers from a “quiet tolerance of sexual assault” far too easily blaming victims and making excuses. “A fundamental shift in our culture” could be the only solution to this crisis, he noted, arguing that even our academic institutions, our havens of knowledge, have been taken over by this so-called “rape culture”. We subtly celebrate male predators, and refuse to acknowledge the devastating consequences of sexual violence due to widespread attitudes about sexuality and gender.     

I can’t help feeling there is a powerful irony in accusing a young girl of dressing ‘provocatively’ – we automatically project this assumption onto her young body – before she is even old enough to correctly spell the word. It teaches our next generation that girls’ bodies are powerful and heavily-sexualised and that boys therefore will naturally succumb to this mystique. This issue is compounded by a lack of education for young men, as when a school decides to police female students’ clothing but ignore the behaviour of boys, it sets up a lifelong assumption that victims are always responsible – these beliefs too easily spread through the youth population of today. My generation, our generation, perpetuates a rape culture narrative that is an inherent factor in our society’s sexual violence crisis. Clearly the term “rape culture” has slowly invaded the national consciousness. 

Following Orwell’s ethos that ‘if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear’, I decided to use the competition as a platform to spotlight the frustration, isolation and ostracisation faced by many rape survivors after their attacks. In particular, I wanted to voice the fears and anxieties shared by many girls who become pregnant with their rapist’s baby. Such victims are too often attacked a second time by their communities’ lack of empathy or general sensitivity, or by the justice system that so often fails to grant them real justice, or humiliates them further in the process. Rape is a societal issue: girls of course are often faced by the terrible decision of whether to keep their rapist’s baby and whilst abortion is a very polarising topic we as women should be well-informed of our options. However, I think that this all together speaks for the deeply-rooted culture within our society today, which teaches women to be safe but doesn’t teach men to be decent and uphold moral values.