A terrible thing happened last week near Kampot, Cambodia: the body of young French woman was found in the river. Her body showed signs of sexual assault. Terrified (for I too am a single girl traveling and was in Kampot just a few days ago) and curious about the atrocity, I spoke with others to find out more.
I was shocked and a little disgusted at the replies and opinions of my fellow travelers for they all blamed the victim. I don’t know if they did this out of an unconscious fear for their own safety and a thought that, “well, I’m smarter so this couldn’t happen to me” or if they actually believed their preposterous assertions.
When asking about the details of the crime, I heard several different stories. One person told me that the victim was riding her bicycle, maybe in the evening or at night, when she was attacked. This man commented on how stupid the girl was to be out alone at night and how the rape and murder was “kinda her own fault.” Would I be out on the streets alone at night if I could help it? No, and I am sure that this victim wouldn’t have either (e.i. could this girl have had a flat tire that prolonged her return home into darkness?) because as solo female travelers, we have to watch out for ourselves and realize that the world, however wonderful, has its faults.
Another woman told me that the victim was cycling out to a remote beach to sunbathe nude. Someone might have seen her, alone and exposing her body to the world, and took “the invitation” to rape and kill her. “She was kind of asking for it because it’s really stupid to be naked in rural Cambodia.”
Was she really?
What happened to this poor girl is terrible, under every circumstance. No one is asking to be raped and murdered and dumped into the river. Clearly this girl’s unfortunate end was not of her own doing. It shocks me to hear “open minded” individuals, including women, suggesting that crimes like these are the victim’s fault. Yes, perhaps her sexual assault and murder could have been prevented had the circumstances been different. We will never know. The fact is that men still view women as objects for the taking–completely disregarding their beautiful existence for a few seconds of selfish pleasure.
Shouldn’t men learn self-restraint? Shouldn’t they learn to be human?
Why do we continue to blame the victim?
Note: I have received a few comments that rape isn’t just a few seconds of pleasure. I realize that in most cases it is not and personally believe that rape stems from insecurity. Please read my post titled “Rape: Women and Society in India” for more thoughts on rape.