Apology For Offensive Words

To the Editors:

I am writing to address what appears to me as a misunderstanding between myself and some students at the Take Back the Night Rally on Oberlin campus on Saturday, Sept. 15.
I was called to be a guest to address some thoughts about sexual assault. My concern is that students reading the article, “Students Respond to Allege Rape” in the Review on Sept. 17 may see me or the organization I represent (Lorain County Rape Crisis Center, a program of The Nord Center) as being racist. My concern then, is that any student who may be a survivor of sexual assault or rape or having a history of sexual abuse may choose not to use our advocacy and support services at the center with this concern. Because of the emotion of the recent national tragedy I found myself that day needing to comment with a comparison of the women in Afghanistan and the crime of power and control in rape and sexual abuse. When I spoke about the women in Afghanistan possibly feeling sun on their arms and faces for the first time as the Taliban hide in fear of American retaliation, I was not addressing Islamic culture or faith. I did not mean to speak for Muslim women or their experience.
Four years ago, I met three Islamic women who shared their personal stories of mistreatment by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The following is a part of what I learned from them. The burga is a garment that covers women from head to toe. The heavy gauze patch across the eyes makes it difficult to see. Exterior windows are painted in homes and buses carrying women have all their windows covered with heavy blankets. Women are only allowed to leave their home escorted by male relatives. The male speaks for her in public so as to not sexually excite another male. In March the regime’s radio station broadcast to the nation that a young woman trying to flee Afghanistan with a man who is not a relative had been stoned to death. On another occasion it was announced that 225 women had been sentenced to a lashing for violating the dress code. One woman had the top of her thumb amputated for the crime of wearing nail polish. The Taliban regime claim they are restoring Afghanistan to the purity of Islam yet nothing I’ve learned about the Islamic culture or faith accepts the mistreatment of women. With that in my thoughts I wanted to equate this mindset to the victim-blaming so pervasive in our American society. The perpetrator is solely responsible for sexually assaulting someone. Yet our society tends to believe that somehow the victim’s behavior elicited the sexual assault.
I sincerely hope, in some way, that this explains where my thoughts and expression were that day when I was requested to speak at the rally. I represent our center as a member of the Ohio State Anti-Oppression Coalition. I, along with my peers at the Lorain County Rape Crisis Center, am committed to the many gifts we have the opportunity to receive presented by diverse communities. I feel that my comments were misunderstood. However, even in that misunderstanding, I sincerely apologize that my comments were received as offensive.

–Kay Jones
Lorain County Rape Crisis

October 5
October 12

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