Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fotonovela About Statutory Rape To Be Released In April

This story is about a Spanish-language comic book, but the message and problem isn't limited to Hispanic populations.

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- It starts out like most fotonovelas, Latino comic books with themes often centered on love and betrayal: Teenage "Yaneth" is at a picnic when she spots handsome, raven-haired "David."

She nabs his number and afterward, playfully sends him a text message.
A few pages later, Yaneth is not smiling. She is in a car alone with David, who turns out to be a man in his late 20s. He is demanding sex and 14-year-old Yaneth is scared.

The Virginia Department of Health hopes readers will want to find out what happens next to Yaneth, and to many real life Latina teens like her.

Note that the relationship shown is not a mutual sexual relationship where the man is simply older than the girl. This isn't a real romance.

Demanding sex is not in the least bit romantic.

This is a man who may try to convince adults that he is courting a girl with absolute respect when any visible respect is nothing more than a con game.

This story also highlights how a girl's innocent interest in a man is often seen as nullifying the possibility that a non-statutory crime has been committed. If she liked him, then to far too many people she becomes partially responsible if she is raped through physical force or coercion.
Liking older men is natural. As a child I had crushes on a variety of men for a variety of reasons. Having that innocent like used as a weapon is NOT natural.

This comic was created after requests came in to translate the English-language anti-statutory-rape "Isn't she a little young?" campaign into Spanish. A word for word translation didn't make sense because the original campaign relied on cultural attitudes.

Far too often when people talk about statutory rape, they are too quick to assume that the sex really was consensual. They fail to see the leverage an adult can use on a child (even one who is feeling almost like an adult) which allows rape to happen without the obvious signs of force many people associate with "real" rape. This comic shows that leverage being applied.

If a Hispanic family accepts large age differences in courtships and marriage but also demands that the man wait until marriage to ask for sex, they may not realize when a Hispanic man has adopted beliefs which say that real men should try every trick known to man to get sex from a girl who likes him even if he sees her as nothing more than a handy target.

If this fotonovela shows the dynamics of sexual exploitation well, it may be worth translating into English. There are plenty of people who claim they understand this issue when in reality they don't know what they are talking about.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:02 AM   0 comments links to this post


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