Madonna recently opened up on Sirius XM's Howard Stern Show about her first years living in New York. She bravely told her story of being raped in the city before she became the superstar she is today. She claims 'It's just not worth it.' Her apartment was robbed several times before this violent attack but she stuck it out in the big apple and of course became one of the most brilliant women in the industry.
Are Madonna's claims in fact the bigger picture when looking at violence against women? The statistics in the UK and the US show us the sickeningly low conviction rates for rape in particular, with one American website rainn.org, claiming that only 35 in 100 rapes are even reported, the attack on Madonna being one of those.
International Women's Day celebrated on 8th March, gives us not one day, but pretty much the entire week of discussions, meetings, protests, awards and much more, all dedicated to the wonderful women of the world. The hashtag WOWLDN alone gets thousands of women discussing things from every day sexism and equal pay to much more serious topics such as female genital mutilation, domestic violence and rape. The hashtag also offers advice and support for victims of any kind of violence, pretty regularly, just follow the hashtag to the relevant posts. So were Madonna's comments on reporting rape being 'not worth it' pretty irresponsible, or does it simply highlight our societies' attitudes to violence against women?
An internationally famous woman such as Madonna does have a duty of care to her fans - many of whom will be young and easily influenced - so perhaps suggesting that not reporting rape is a better idea than standing up and fighting wasn't the most ideal thing she's ever said. Of course reporting crimes like this is always the decision of the individual involved, but has it taken someone like Madonna to actually highlight just how much drastic action needs to be taken in order to change the attitudes of particularly the western world towards violence to women?
So what can be done? There's a new proposal of the accused having to prove consent during a rape case, but doesn't that undermine the basic ideas of our justice system; Innocent until proven guilty? Plus, just how is a man supposed to prove consent? Just as easily as the victim proving there wasn't consent I expect. Then again, despite the initial fears of this proposal going against the norm, shouldn't this be the case? Where the victim is believed and the accused has to defend himself, just like any other crime really. Or would that lead to much more false imprisonment of innocent men? Rape is a difficult topic not only for those who have suffered an attack, but when looking at how to change the law enough to ensure a higher conviction rate and the feeling that more is being done to address violence towards women.
It is worth it. If that's the decision you have made personally, to report a crime like this, it is definitely worth it. There are more rapists walking our streets without criminal convictions and without a conscience than there are behind bars. Never be put off from reporting violence - it might not seem that way, but the law does 'try' to be on your side!