Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rape of a homeless man

Over at The Secret Political Blog, Messrs Liau Chuan Yi and Norvin Chan share the story of Mike, a homeless man who suffers from addiction to alcohol, and his victimisation by strangers:
when he sleeps, men unzip his trousers and perform oral sex on him. [...]

If he wakes up to the act, the men offer to buy him a beer or two. If they do not make such an offer, Mike will initiate and ask them for some money, for want of support for his alcohol addiction. When he does so, he sometimes has to be the perfomer, and he told me that his knees hurt since some of the men want it fast... [...]

It might seem as though he has a choice since he could change rape into a commercial transaction. Perhaps what happens might be more accurately described as prostitution. But as I watched his eyes water, I doubt that he had a choice… merely the illusion of it. He was going to be raped anyway. Being drunk has enfeebled him, and he could have thought that he might as well gain something from it.
There is kerfuffle in the comments over whether Mike's experience amounts to rape. Whatever it may be in a legal sense, the heart of the matter is undeniable: the other men are engaging in coercive sexual exploitation which shows no regard for Mike's humanity or personal boundaries. If Mike calls it rape, I'm not inclined to disagree.

The post muses:
I doubted his story at first, still being in disbelief that such a thing could happen to Singapore, and that the homeless could be regarded as sexually desirable.
Unfortunately, whatever our national fantasies on this score, Singapore isn't in fact equipped by a Magical forcefield which automatically intervenes to repel all sexual assaults. It would be nice though.

Additionally, the notion of Mike's sexual desirability or lack thereof is quite irrelevant. Rape doesn't happen only to Sexxxay people: it happens to people that rapists manage to rape, and some rapists deliberately target visibly vulnerable and marginalised people because they are more likely to be able to get away with raping. Precisely because of this, studies from a range of industrialised countries show that homeless people are far more likely than those with housing to suffer physical and sexual abuse.

I am glad the authors overcame their disbelief and brought this story to light.

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