Thursday, 5 November 2009

Violence and Abuse Against Young Women

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Picture the following scenario if you may. A young lady going home (East London) on a dark winters evening- say around 7- from a long day at university. An African-Caribbean guy on his bike shouts "Oi, oi, oi, oi" as he rides past speedily almost startling this young lady. After mumbling a few words of discontent under her breath she gets over the near miss. To her dismay, the guy on his bike- now roughly 15 feet ahead-  looks back at her and does a u-turn. He approaches her on his bike, cycling around her. "You 'aight baby?" He asks her with a slight patois in his voice. She ignores him. "Hello?, hello?", he says still desperately trying to get her attention. "Can you leave me alone?", she responds. "What?" he replies sounding upset at the dismissal. "You think you're too pretty?", he asks before gathering a mouthful of saliva and spitting on the left hand side of her face and in her eye. As she she reflexively swirls to her right in shock at what had just taken place- common assault- the offender rides off on his pedal bike faster than someone at the gym determined to lose a few pounds in one session.

Earlier today BBC London news reported the rise of sexual assault in London, with almost 100 reported cases of gang rape in the capital within the last year.

Two men who assaulted a girl aged 16 and doused her in caustic soda, disfiguring her for life, had their sentences increased on appeal.

In another case a 14-year-old girl was repeatedly raped 'as punishment' by nine members of a Hackney gang because she had 'insulted' their leader.

Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Jennette Arnold says that many young black men simply don't have respect for females. That is certainly clear from all the above offences.

If you're wondering who the young lady in the scenario was, it was me. The incident took place earlier this week only one minute away from my home. It left me more disillusioned with the behaviour of some young (black) men rather than shaken. Having been through 10 times more mental trauma in my young life, I suppose I found it fairly easy to deal with. That and the fact that my fiancé was there for me immediately after the incident. Even though he chased after the guy on the bike I'm glad he didn't catch him because consumed with anger, his retaliation could have legally complicated the situation. The fact that I'm in a stable relationship allowed my general view of men not to be altered. After all, it's unfair of me to tarnish all men with the same brush just because one imbecile showed utter disrespect to me.

Spitting is nasty, full stop but the sexual nature of his approach just made my skin crawl. To be honest, he belongs in the jungle if he considers that as being acceptable behaviour.  I mean, who honestly goes out of their way to do something like that?
I suppose by spitting on me, he thought I would feel degraded but I'm far too inwardly content with myself as an individual to let anyone make me feel worthless.

Without being patronising to myself, it could have been far worse. I could have been punched, slapped or kicked as well, or more seriously raped.

I don't want to make it a race issue but unavoidably I was assaulted by a black male. I hate to say it but the stereotype prevailed. I could sit here all day debating, analysing and dissecting all possible explanations as to what may have driven him to behave in such a manner but I'd rather use my energy on something worthwhile that I can actually make a positively impact in mine or other people's lives.

Of course, I reported the incident but only 10 minutes after it happened because felt that dialing 999 at the time would have been an futile attempt for the police to catch him, especially as my description of him was so vague. Unfortunately, the assault will probably just go down as another statistic of a reported but unsolved case. Although it may have been a one-off incident, I'll definitely be investing in a personal noise alarm.

Useful links/numbers:

Police switchboard: 03001231212

Directgov page on rape and sexual assault
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