Tuesday, 26 January 2016


  We are prone to opposites.  First there were particles and anti-particles, yin and yang, and now rape and love.   Where did the crime of rape start, from what cause, and how extensive is it today?
At the moment we know that Life started on this globe some 3.8 billion years ago, but reproduction was all asexual while Time did what Time does and took 2.2 billion years to create sex that led to us.  Today, there are those humans who still ask: “Why?”   Much pleasure has resulted along with much pain, much grief, much exploitation, and much profit.  Is it not due to a biological flaw?           Males, producing trillions of sperm while females produce a single monthly egg, inherit a much stronger sexual desire that persists for decades after sperm production ceases.  The abuse of this desire varies considerably with mindsets and environments.
  In these past 2.2 billion years Nature used a trial-and-error approach to build about 5 billion species, 99% of which failed to persist into modern times.  But, variety remains.  A male praying mantis allows his mate to eat him while copulating; harems are common in the mammal world; species that mate for life include: gibbons, swans, black vultures, French anglefish, wolves, albatrosses, termites, prairie voles, turtle doves, schistosoma mansoni worms, bald eagles, and humans (if we overlook high divorce rates such as 50% in the USA.)  
We humans share 99% of our genes with our closest relatives:  bonobos and chimpanzees who diverged from  each other a mere 2 million years ago.  Bonobos took the female-dominated path devoid of aggression while chimps became male-dominated and highly aggressive.  Bonobos became more slender-built than robust chimps and they use frequent sex, both homo and hetero, for social bonding, limiting quarrels, and mutual pleasure.  Male chimps fight each other for dominance in order to monopolize females in estrus.     Bonobos today are limited to the Congo area while chimps are more widespread.  Do not current human traits reveal that we are descended from both?  I like to believe I am more bonobo, but what about the overall picture?
The written word is too recent, a mere 5 to 6 thousand years, but artifacts can reveal much.  For a dozen thousand years, Goddesses ruled a more-peaceful us, yet one or two societies abused males using them as serfs and replaceable studs. (Merlin Stone’s “When God was a Woman” and Elaine Morgan’s “Descent of Woman”).
  Since written records originated most societies attached stigma to rape except in warfare.  Greek, Persian, and Roman armies were permitted to rape when force had to be used to conquer a village, town, or city.  Greek gods raped, even Zeus, the supreme god.  In Hinduism, rape is a crime.  In the Rome of 50 BC, Lucritius called rape a primitive act.  Emperor Diocletian decreed victims could resume life blameless, but under Christian Constantine victims were sometimes burned alive but usually just disinherited.  Islam denied punishment for victims while forced intercourse in marriage could not be rape.  This persisted in English common law until 1991.   In the Hundred Years war both Richard II and Henry V had rapists shot.  In the France of the 1600s, sex in a marriage not condoned by the parents was considered rape.  Napoleon went to extremes.  When his army was reluctant to invade Italy he persuaded them with: “You want women?  The Italians have women and they are yours for the taking.”  Yet, in Egypt, he had rapists shot.  When Stalin was asked for help in reducing the widespread rape of women in Europe he replied that his soldiers needed this privilege after enduring the hardships of battle. 
Living today there are 16 million men who are descendants of Genghis Khan (died 1227) who had his lieutenants select the most beautiful women in villages throughout his vast empire to stand by for his visits.  I had one of these as a high school student who traced his ancestry back to Genghis and a Hungarian woman he raped. The European Journal of Human Genetics claims there are some ten other men who can rival Genghis.
Today, we can argue that men, even those denied the Bonobo inheritance, have controlled biological impulses and that annual rape, per hundred thousand population is a small percentage, ranging from a high of 132 in South Africa to 67 for the USA and 29 for the UK.  In numbers, annual totals have been 24,206 for India compared to 83,425 for the USA.  These are reported figures. Most rapes go unreported and can be zero reports in some countries.  Conflicts, considered environmental causes, inflate these number enormously.  In the 1937 rape of Nanking (Nanjing, capital of Nationalist China) Japanese troops raped an estimated 80,000 women. But “Comfort Stations” were set up, 1932-45, throughout Japanese-occupied Asia to reduce the wholesale raping of women. Tens of thousands of women were forced to serve.
In Europe, during and after WWII, there was widespread rape by all armies, but the degree is much disputed among historians. We accuse the Soviets of raping every woman, regardless of age, in areas they occupied, even raping Soviet women released from forced-labour camps.  Soviet historians deny this and point to millions of rapes by Western forces and to German rapes of Soviet women.   Actual facts will never be known as most women are reluctant to admit they have been raped.  Nevertheless there is sufficient evidence to tell that rapes were in the millions.  When German troops invaded western Europe in 1940 there were thousands of rapes but, once control had been firmly established, German troops paid a small fee for sex and inter-marriage did occur.  Their invasion of eastern Europe was a much different story.  German military brothels grew to some 500 throughout Europe with 35,000 captured women, each forced to service over 30 men a day.
Estimates of rapes by US troops in Germany range from 11,000 to 190,000 (a Feb 2015 article in Der Spiegel).  Rapes in Italy were also numerous: 1,336 by French Moroccan troops were reported in one province in a 10-day period.  In Okinawa 10,000 women are estimated to have been raped by US troops.
The above is a small sampling of male abuse of women and does not include atrocities committed by groups like Daesh, Taliban, Boko Haram, etc, or “honour” killings of victims by relatives, both male and female. 
     Much of the above is too often dismissed as “wartime”.  Have we improved in times of relative peace?  In a recent survey, 25 US universities admitted 590 rapes but 3,329 female students claimed they were raped.  The US military had 20,000 rapes in 2014,down from 26,000 in 2012.  A UN report shows that police annually receive 250,000 reports of rape, a mere fraction of actual rapes.
Personal experiences and environments shape us.  In my boyhood days in Ontario, sex was a main topic among boys but was almost all fantasy, limited to occasional kissing and necking.  Then came WWII  and   hundreds of thousands of boys sent overseas.  In the UK we were amazed at the availability of pubs and dance halls along with an attitude “enjoy today because you will likely be dead tomorrow”.  As sex was so available I never heard of a single case of rape.  Our mindsets did not permit it.  Neither did they permit homosexuality.  But I did hear 3 padres of different nationalities argue that female intolerance of male desires led to wars.  Later I listened to hundreds of husbands complaining they loved their wives far more than they were loved in return. 
At government expense, surviving Canadians brought 43,500 British brides and 21,000 children to Canada.  They could boast that the only Canadians who did not marry the girls they got pregnant were those who were killed in action.  Male sense of love and responsibility also resulted in 300,000 war brides arriving in the USA from the UK, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Philippines, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.  Later, war brides from Vietnam, Korea, and Iraq arrived.  Chinese women who had children by Japanese occupiers were left stranded in China until quite recently when some have been welcomed in Japan.
May I close with an episode that contributed to my distress and contempt of rape?  In 1945 I was among 11,000 aircrew POWs from Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Silesia, fleeing the Soviet advance. Most Commonwealth POWs took the northern route to be liberated by British and Canadian troops.  I happened to get into the group ending up in Bavaria to be liberated by Patton’s 3rd Army after our camp was caught, 29 April 1945, in the middle of a tank battle that is described in more detail in my book “It’s All Pensionable Time”. Patton himself, flanked by two pretty nurses, came into our compounds stating “Boys, you will all be back in Britain in 72 hours.”    For me, the 72 hours became 15 days.  We were ordered to stay behind barbed wire and troops were posted to ensure we did. Yet hundreds of us did slip out to explore the countryside.  An RAF friend and I entered a small farming village, surprising a young woman hoeing a large plot of land.  In panic she fled to her house but we intercepted her trying to explain we wanted only to talk to a real, live woman and showed her a tin of coffee grounds we carried.   Just then 3 groups of freed slave labourers came by, bent on rape.  Sensing the lesser of 2 evils, she sought our protection and allowed us into the house.  Seeing this, the groups waved us “Good luck” and went on to other homes.  
   We found a frightened elderly couple, 3 young women and several orphaned children.  We spent several hours with them. They were delighted with real coffee, an unknown delicacy in wartime Germany.  All of the women, ages 14 to over 60, had been raped many times.  Two of the teenagers feared they were pregnant and would be rejected by their boyfriends if they ever returned from the fighting fronts.  At dusk we knew we had to return to camp where we sought out the army commander to beg for help for the village women.  He had no interest, and told us it was the turn of German women to deliver.  I was ashamed to learn that a fair number of our exPOWs had slipped into Moosburg to rape, boasting that the next generation of Germans would be only half German.  None, whom I called friend, was among them.

georgesweanor@comcast.net ww.yeoldescribe.com

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