Rape is Not a Sport



On March 8th we celebrated International Women’s Day and everyday millions of women around the globe struggle to support their families on too low wages, they struggle to avoid physical and psychological abuse, and they continue to hope for a better life amid obstacles that seem insurmountable.

“The United Nations Development Fund for Women estimates that at least one in every three women globally has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.” In many cases of abuse there is no court of law for women to petition for the crimes against them. If Americans think theses atrocities are limited to Third World countries, then the rape trial in Steubenville, Ohio should be a wake up call. Two football players were convicted of raping a 16-year old girl last summer. The details of the rape were photographed and videotaped. The video and photos were widely circulated on social media and used in the conviction of the two young men.

This rape trial has exposed more than just an acceptance of violence in that community it has called into question our own distorted and despicable views of how we value women and girls. And if the crime was not enough, there is now an online petition with a growing number of 100,000 signatures protesting CNN’s coverage of the Steubenville, Ohio, and rape case verdict. No matter what the coverage, the conviction was rape.

After the conviction and the punishment were announced, two Steubenville teenage girls were charged with threatening the rape victim on Facebook and Twitter. The same social media that no doubt lead to the conviction is still being used as a tool of destruction. The two girls are being held in a detention center and have a court hearing today. Fortunately the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine took the threats on the victim seriously.

The frightening news is that this kind of sexual assault on women and girls with athletes as culprits happens far too often. This is true March Madness. The “Big Red” football team and the arrogant preference afforded the team by supporters and staff has overshadowed the achievement of the students and the pride of the city. Without social media we might have never known about the case or the crime and chances are the perpetrators and witnesses would not have to face the corruption of character that this case highlights.  As awful as it is to face jail time it is more horrific to have criminal behavior accepted as the norm.