It sickens me that we live in a world where sexual assault and rape culture are considered taboo in society. No woman should feel the need to hide what she has been through because of people’s stares and whispers. We need to start creating a safe, accepting, and supportive environment where women do not feel constantly judged for sharing their experiences. The #MeToo movement is a step in the right direction, but our society is still far off from where it should be. When a woman tells you her story, I want you to be supportive and respectful of what she went through. But most of all, I want you to believe her.
Because we live in a world where 120 million women have been forced into sexual acts, where only 230 out of every 1000 sexual assaults are reported, and a mere 46 of those 230 cases lead to an arrest. What type of world do we live in in which so many women, so many innocent girls are forced to live their lives in perpetual fear? Women shouldn’t have to live in a world in which rape jokes are cracked all the time, and robbery is considered a crime worse than sexual assault. Furthermore, sexual abuse is often blamed on the victim. She walked down the alley alone so it must be her fault. She wore a short skirt so it must be her fault. She accepted a drink from a stranger so it must be her fault. And we wonder why women feel embarrassed to tell their stories. It is crucial that we as a society change the way that we view sexual assault. Instead of teaching young girls to cover up and keep their heads down, we should be teaching boys to be respectful and understanding. So when a woman tells you her story, no matter if it is ten days after it happened or ten years, believe her. Because it requires strength and courage to be able to stand up, to speak out against the terrible actions that take place every single day. Remind her that it’s not her fault. Don’t blame her, blame her rapist.
Post written by guest writer and ambassador Vaishali Bansal
In May 2012, I was in 3rd grade, waiting in the lunch line and praying it would go faster so I could eat and play on the monkey bars. In line, I heard two girls behind me talk about what seemed like a ridiculous concept for my 9 year old brain: the end of the world. One girl talked about how the world was supposed to end on the last day of 2012, while her friend agreed, saying she saw a movie called 2012 that showed a natural catastrophe destroying Earth. I brushed it off as two girls that didn’t know what they were talking about, but I also felt a feeling I can now pinpoint as dread.
Fast forward 8 years into 2020, a year everyone had high hopes for. Of course, those hopes were mutilated by the Coronavirus, but the California fires this summer gave me the same feeling of dread from all those years ago.
Living in California my entire life has somewhat desensitized me to the consequences of forest fires and earthquakes. Since I had never really been impacted by one, it was just a part of my year like a change in seasons. However this past August, my ignorant perspective took a turn.
Coronavirus cases were on an increase and forest fires were raging at a record breaking pace. As my parents heard messages about possible evacuation and our friends were looking for places to go to, for the first time, I was genuinely worried for the immediate future. It seemed like destruction was inevitable and coming in from every direction. I saw posts on social media where people were living in cars for extended periods of time, unable to work or even feed their children. I saw places that I had been to before burn down on the news. I experienced the disastrous air quality and I sat at home thinking, “ Is this what the end of the world feels like? Could things really get worse?”
They did. Not because of the wildfires or because of coronavirus though. The State was beginning to recover and cases began to come to a standstill. No, what was worse was the federal government’s reaction to this series of unfortunate events. President Donald Trump's comments on the fires were, "You know, at some point, you can't, every year, have hundreds of thousands of acres of land just burned to the ground” and a vehement refusal to give funds for relief (ABC 7 News). In addition he expressed his thoughts about climate change, saying he doesn’t believe in it and instead urges California to “have better management of forests” (ABC 7 News). I couldn’t believe the dismissal of something so important. I mean we’re talking about something that affects the whole world.
So I’ll ask you. Is this the end of the world that 2012 was supposed to bring? Maybe the start of it. Do we have to sit there and wait for our time to come to an end? Absolutely not. Humanity didn’t get to where it is without a little fight. So, regardless of political beliefs and even social ones, recognize that every one of us is accountable for the world around us. Even the mistakes of our ancestors are still OUR mistakes. The Earth doesn’t discriminate.
Being dismissive of our surroundings is inherently un-human. I urge you to consider this and think about what kind of a world you want to live in. Break down the political and social barriers. Demand change from others and be the change you want to see.
Everyone is so concerned with leaving a materialistic legacy of fame, power, and money, but think bigger. Think about the legacy you want to leave on the planet. You don’t have to reverse global warming by yourself. You don’t have to join environmental protection groups. You don’t have to dedicate your life to the environment if that’s not what you want to do. But, think about what you are contributing to the Earth. Think about if that satisfies you in the present, and if your actions will be beneficial to the future. Small changes can lead to big impacts. Small contributions can leave a big legacy. So I’ll leave you with my personal take on this: Live simply, with consciousness that your life on this Earth touches everything in some shape or form. We ARE either the end of the world or the savior of it.
Post written by guest writer and ambassador Sanjana Dukkipati