Saturday, 27 December 2008

Victims of gang rape in Maldives.. need psychological support too

I have been reading the news reports about how some girls have recently been gang raped and my heart goes out to the victims who have suffered this terrible ordeal.
I hope they and their family members get the courage to cope with this extremely difficult moment. I also hope they get justice and that those who did this be given the necessary punishments. They must not be allowed to roam free on our streets after having done what they have done to these young and naïve girls.

Yes. I know rape, violence against women these things happen in every society and will continue to happen. But what has bewildered me is, that this time, the rapists appear very organized, they seem to have a particular modus operandi and this seems to indicate something more sinister is going on behind these acts. Are these people individuals with past criminal records? Are they people who abuse drugs? Do they belong to different gangs?? Are these acts of revenge? Do these people belong to the group that have been recently released from parole? I think the public has a right to know these answers and I think the news reporters must ask the police these questions in the next briefing. I think the police must keep the public informed as they are doing now on who these people are, and when the time comes let us see their photographs so that we will know to protect our daughters from the claws of these horrible people.

Rape is a word that immediately sends shivers down the spine of any one and it is difficult to fathom both physical and psychological pain that victims must forever endure once they have been victimized. Research studies show that victims of rape develop several symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) such as fear, anxiety, flashbacks etc following rape and almost one-third (31%) of all rape victims developed PTSD sometime during their lifetime; and more than one in ten rape victims (11%) still has PTSD today. Further, 30% of rape victims experience at least one major depressive episode in their lifetime and some go on to develop more life threatening problems such as attempting suicide with reports stating that they were 13 times more likely than non-crime victims to have attempted suicide (13% Vs 1%). Further some studies have also shown that the incidence of substance abuse was significantly higher among victims of rape with reports that among rape victims there was a 26 times more likelihood to have two or more major serious drug abuse problems.

The trauma associated with rape can occur in several phases.

In the acute phase which usually last from a few days to a few weeks after the attack survivors experience a disruption of their lives, they live in fear may cry, shout, swear, laugh nervously, or sit calmly. They may either openly show their emotions or they may contain the emotions by controlling their composure. They may sit calmly, respond to questions in a detached, logical way, and downplay their fear, sadness, anger, and anxiety

What one has to understand at this point of time is that the survivor of rape is in a deep state of shock, and disbelief. What has happened to her is not acceptable; it is a terrifying, brutal experience. There is anger, and often the survivor feel dirty, and cheap and often can feel as if he or she has committed a sin. The humiliation can be deep and lifelong and yet at the same time there could be that sense of relief for having survived the attack.

Following such an attack the survivor can report general soreness of the body, may have difficulty with sleep the appetite may be disrupted and may also report nightmares and flashbacks.

The survivor then enters the reorganization phase following rape and this phase may last from few weeks to several years. During this phase, it is important that the survivors utilize their coping skills to move ahead in life, they need the emotional support of family and friends and it is important that the loved ones offer their empathy and unconditional support to the survivors for effective healing to take place. Further, if they have other comorbid problems such as drug abuse, these must be addressed too.

In this phase the individual is trying to bounce back to life may they still have residues of the sexual attack. They may still show mood changes, may break up into tears easily , may not like to be left alone, may feel too ashamed to go back to their place of work and may generally feel a loss of control over their life. Like in this case where the survivors were gang raped they may even develop a fear to go outside and mingle with society again.

The survivors of rape often find it difficult to accept, like with any victim of violence, that this has really happened to them. Thus, denial can be commonly seen among the victims and this is an emotion that must be dealt with sooner or later by the victim as denial that lasts longer than a few hours or days, is detrimental to their recovery.
Depression, guilt, and a general loss of self-esteem are also common psychological reactions and these symptoms suggest that the survivor have turned their anger inward, and that they have unresolved fears.

This is where friend and family can step in and let the survivors know that they are in no way responsible for this and that the anger and negative feelings must be directed outwards. If the survivors still go on to develop panic attacks, anxiety and fear reactions with PTSD, therapy is highly recommended.

Following rape, the sexual life of the survivor can also get disrupted as the otherwise pleasurable experience has been used to cause pain, humiliation and punish.

Therefore, victims of rape may often report physical pain during sex, have difficulty relaxing, show indifference to sex or some victims have on the other hand desire sex all the time. Thus, their behaviors may fall between these two extremes. If the survivor was a virgin at the time of the assault, they may have a heightened fear of their first consensual sexual encounter.
Many survivors also develop fear of having contacted STD’S or HIV/AIDS, or fear that they may have conceived following a rape. Thus, it may be worthwhile to test the survivor for these at the earliest such that the next necessary steps could be taken.

Further, some studies also report that following rape, victims are stigmatized for life and they may even lose the love of their life.

So , at this moment while the media is focusing on the story side of these gang rapes, let us , the so called responsible citizens of the country, take a second to empathize with the young victims of this recent rape and do what ever is possible to offer our support to the families and victims who have had to endure this violence and let us hope that those who caused this violence is brought to book at the earliest.


Anonymous said...

It is indeed sad that these events take place and as humans we make assumptions. Im curious to know why the girls were in that place. Was this just an innocent meeting or were they also involved in drugs willingly. I am not blaming the victims,far from it. I am wondering why girls are not aware of the changes in our society, the parents what role could be there for prevention.

We have seen videos coming out of these as well, one by the famous singer fathey, and groups are usually involved.

When a society has low values and people full of greed for more money at whatever cost, this is what happens. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

moyameehaa said...

rape is taken very lightly in maldives.from what i have heard (from victims and others) there is no way to test for evidence or immediate help available except at police stations.and once we enter a police station we still have a feeling we are guilty. and usually there will be guys there and being a small place there is no guarantee that these things will remain confidential (unlike helthcare professionals who can be trusted by most people). then there is the horror of giving a police report immediately. after that comes the legal part...victimes let go the case against rapists fearing they maybe charged for ziney. which is embarassing and will remain with them for their entire lives. public floggin! my god! and not every victim have a supportive family and friends. the system is so fucked that rapists can get away with it easily and they have no reason not to repeat it again. morals and values of our society are degenerating. we should keep in mind that this have nothin to do with people bein irreligious (no matter wat sheikhs say...relkigious preachin does not solve everythin), but i think these values should be incorporated in to the education system ...separate from religious education. so that even a faithless irreligious person is also humane and civilized. the society as a whole should start really hating these people. they should be kicked out of all islands and left out from the society. so its much more than the system. it is about our thinking too.

as for ur theory of these being organised crime. i think there could be such cases. but generally these are just perverted barbaric people doing what they love to do.because nothing can stop them in this lawless place. but change in behaviour bcoz of hard drugs could be one factor. but we can see clean and old people in these acts. its just for the 'fun' of it.

naaz said...

Dear anonymous and ehh...moyameeha (its a bit difficult to address anyone like this....!)
I understand your sentiments and thanks for expressing them here. I also realise that while we write the comments the frustration sometimes overwhelms us..and we slip to language we would normally not use.....
But i am publishing the comments here because i realise how important a point you have expressed here.
Please keep commenting ....and lets see what we can all change things. Atleast we can blog!!

Maldiveshealth said...

yes. at least we can blog indeed.

Siru said...

we hope we will be benefit from you

Anonymous said...

Rapes are never taken seriously by police. I live in UK and police response to rape is cruel and downright abusive. Also PTSD from gang rapes involves flashbacks from the actual rape itself - basically PTSD is the constant re-experiencing of some sensory input of the rape over and over again for the rest of your life. This is hell and this is what makes victims commit suicide. You are constantly 'triggered' by things in the current environment that let off the exact same feelings you felt in the rape. i.e. you feel the same intense shame or humiliation or sadism effects over and over again. Its a living hell. The trick to recovery is to try ad stop your brain triggering off the rape response. You can also get smells, tastes, physical sensations back again that you had in attack. Your body and mind basically blocks the sensory inputs you recieved in the rape and replays the sensory responses at different points over and over. So you may as well just be ganged raped every day for rest of your life. It wouldn't make a difference. My heart goes out to the Maldives victim!