When is a rape not a rape? When a court says so. At least, that's how it seems to work in Sweden, where a convicted rapist decided he needed to "test" for his girlfriend's infidelity, so he ripped off her clothes and inserted his fingers into a very personal place (http://bit.ly/WUJboj).
Seems to me that's an assault, and it also seems to me it's aimed at a sexual center of a woman's body, but the judge in the case doesn't feel that penetrating a woman in a violent manner is enough of a sexual act because he, duh, he was not acting on sexual desire. He missed the cultural memo that acknowledged that rape is an act of violence, not an act of sexuality. It's an act of humiliation, of asserting power. What that man did to that woman is a textbook case of rape as I understand it.
The man did get convicted -- of something called "unlawful coercion," though I don't see that the woman was coerced into much of anything. She was assaulted. The man walked away with his sentence halved, thanks to the lesser charge.
I don't know if this is an isolated incident in terms of ridiculous legal outcomes, but it's not in context of official bodies taking seriously what rape means, and living up to the responsibility of prosecuting those who rape and, more importantly, those who protect those who rape.
Joe Paterno's family hired a private investigator to prove that the FBI report nailing the sports demi-god was entirely incorrect, and not only is Paterno innocent of the allegations, white is black, up is down and guilty is the new innocent (http://bit.ly/12RGZmB).
But anyone not clouded by a college football haze is willing to proclaim Paterno loathsome scum. With the Pope, though, we might have an uphill battle.
Following the announcement of Benedict XVI's retirement, people eager for justice began to speculate whether now, as a private citizen, he would be held accountable for his role in perpetuating the cancer that has basically destroyed any credibility his church has: the systematic rape of children and cover-ups that have reached numbers that are hard to conceive.
No. Instead, the Vatican has decided to make sure he is protected from justice (http://bit.ly/XAZRBf). The poor souls who have endured abuse at the hands of the church can rest assured that one of the people at the center of the atrocity is being allowed to escape any responsibility by living out the rest of his wretched days within the walls of the Vatican. There, he can claim immunity from any prosecution for the years spent prior to donning the papal hat, in which he served as the head of the Vatican doctrinal department and passively watched the cover-ups pile up around him.
This is justice? This is what a moral god would want?
In desperation, a nonprofit organization called the Centre for Constitutional Rights has filed a crimes against humanity complaint against the Pope and Vatican cardinals with the International Criminal Court on behalf of the Survivor's Network (http://bit.ly/XrEwZ5).
I doubt anything will come of it, but it at least shows that someone out there takes seriously the cries of the victims of rape.
In India, people are fighting back, the only silver lining in a horrible, brutal gang rape case that has revealed an underbelly of ugliness within the culture (http://bit.ly/W5VZeF).
The crime has brought forth massive and forceful protests within the country that seem to be making real changes, and that is a lesson for everyone. It's a typical rhythm to governance -- established bodies put off, put off, put off, until the people can't be pushed away anymore and chaotic rage explodes, making those in charge feel the wrath of people demanding what is right, scared at a society demanding action.
That's the problem. The Vatican has never really felt scared, it's cloistered from the real horror. Only when that ceases to be will justice really be served to the masters of the Catholic Church.
John Seven is the Transcript's arts and entertainment editor.