Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?
We need to move beyond the shock and titillation of sex crimes. We need to move beyond any scintilla of belief that some men—elite economists, for example—couldn’t possibly be perpetrators and some women—prostitutes, for example, or wives—couldn’t possibly be victims. Haven’t the scandals involving Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, Peace Corps workers, heads of state, and UN Peacekeepers taught us at least this? Haven’t the statistics and personal accounts and visual evidence of the sexual victimization of half of humanity—from infant girls to the most fragile elderly women—taught us at least this? The ubiquity of sexual violence points to some very stark realities about the mundane lives of “ordinary” women and girls, and men and boys.
William Simmons and Michelle Tellez conducted a study in Arizona and northern Mexico that documented the multiple sexual victimizations endured by undocumented migrant women and girls on their journeys to the United States. Though this phenomenon is shockingly widespread and fairly well documented, it is rarely reported in the mainstream media or even among scholars. While estimates of prevalence are difficult to verify, it is clear that hundreds if not thousands of migrants are the victims of violent sexual assaults each year in Arizona. If such crimes were perpetrated against Anglos, or citizens, or visitors from Europe, or just about anyone other than poor, Latina, undocumented migrants, it would be front-page news for weeks.
Far more is known about the horrendous sexual violence in the Eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo than is known about the crimes against migrant women and girls in the United States. Somehow it is easier on our consciences to show outrage at the mass rapes in Eastern Congo than it is to pay attention to chronic sexual violence perpetrated against our migrant neighbors. Clearly, as media coverage of the DSK scandal has illustrated, it is a more intriguing spectacle to focus on sexual violence (allegedly) committed by a high-ranking French economist than to focus on an epidemic of terror and violence in our own communities.