This is a follow up on a previous post: “Let’s talk about rape“.
A girl shares her story:
“We’ll see what we can do.” This is what the police said when I voiced out the names of the men who raped and beat me. But it was not enough. I had to repeat the story including every single detail a myriad of times in the police station, in front of different police officers and a friend who was also acting as my translator. I felt humiliated, dirty, hopeless, and defenseless and every other “less”.
“We’ll see what we can do.” sounded more like “Sorry, there is nothing we can do.”
If my Lebanese host had not believed what happened to me, no one would have. He was the one who fought for me every day against all of those who treated me as a liar and who kept saying that I was a slut who deserved what happened.
Fortunately, my friend connected me to an amazing Lebanese girl who helped me a lot and both of them made me feel strong and ready to fight for my rights.
I also met another local woman who told me that if I wanted to do anything with this case I had to find “connections” and use them. The concept was alien to me. In Europe, rape cases are treated delicately, people are directed towards psychologists or doctors, not “connections”. Here, I had to go further… much further. She connected me to an investigator who found the offenders in less than an hour. They were arrested and taken to jail.
But it was not over. This was just the beginning.
First, I had to go to recognize the rapists. Policemen were nice to me, now they had the rapists in custody; they believed me. But, to my disappointment, my number was given to the families of the offenders. They had my friend’s number as well. They kept calling us and harassing us to let the case down and give up my rights. They were pressuring us not to “ruin their good sons’ lives”. Little did they care that it was MY life that “their good sons’’ ruined: They showed me no mercy when they were beating the hell out of me and I was begging them to stop. They did not bother think that I may find myself with an unwanted pregnancy next month either.
How dare they even talk to me asking me to forgive and forget? I was torn apart in my own flesh and blood! What made even more reluctant is that one of them works with children for a living.
Everywhere else, it is improper if not a crime or corruption to give the phone number of the victim to the family of the accused. I am not looking for revenge. I just want my humanity and my rights back; I want to feel as a human and a woman again.
In Lebanon, you have to recognize your aggressors by standing in front of them in the same room and looking them in the eyes. (Not from another room behind a thick one-way protective glass.) They seemed sorry that they got caught and may have to face time in prison. It seemed that they really believed that they would get away with it.
Today, I’m trying to keep myself together. At the beginning, I couldn’t sleep at all, now I wake up to every sound. I cry a lot. I hate my body. I don’t feel it’s mine anymore; it’s disgusting, it’s dirty. I’m afraid to stay alone although I have lived alone all my life as an independent person. I’m afraid of my own thoughts. I can’t focus. When I try to think of something else, flashback images come back to me.
My best friends have always been men. Sadly, I came to notice that many people do not believe in friendship between men and women in Lebanon. Yet my host is a Lebanese man. He never touched me, never tried to kiss me or attempted anything weird. He’s my friend.
I’m not trying to tarnish the image of Lebanon, rape happens anywhere. I’m neither the first nor the last person to whom it happened. I’m just concerned with the laws and procedures since the misadventure happened to me here. I can’t help myself thinking about the Lebanese, to whom the same thing happened, who were unable to do anything about it, and who had to swallow their shame while their rapists were still out there, running free because they had no “connections”.
Lebanon is a beautiful country with fantastic landscape and cuisine. I encourage everyone to visit it. I just hope that in the near future the laws will change to be able to protect everyone. I hope there will be a clear procedure for these cases and that no one will need “connections” to bring offenders to justice. I think that people deserve better laws and better treatment.
If that was the case of a local person, can you imagine what would have happened? Would she even go to the police station? All the family would be put in the loop, blame the person for bringing shame on them etc? How do you think they would react?
Is it normal to have to repeat the facts a million times? Is it normal to have to face offenders in the same room? Is it normal to be harassed over the phone in order to drop the case? Is it normal to proceed with such cases like this?
Some argued that they seldom hear about rape stories. That’s because no one talks about them nor reports them. Who would under the current circumstances and the way victims are left to their own despair? If you got raped, what would YOU do?
We urgently need new laws!
Sources have requested anonymity for very good reasons. I respect this choice. Thank you for understanding.