Things That Matter

This Latino Author Shared His Story Of Childhood Rape In ‘The New Yorker’ And Everyone Needs To Read It

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Pulitzer prize-winning writer, Junot Díaz has been bringing joy and enlightenment into our worlds through his books and words for decades. The Dominican author has written books and essays about the Latino experience on so many fascinating levels. Just this month he released a children’s book titled “Islandborn.” But now, in one of his most personal essays, Junot discloses in the New Yorker the heartbreaking details about his own childhood.

In a new essay titled: “The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma,” Junot Díaz shares that he was raped.

Yes, it happened to me,” Junot writes. “I was raped when I was eight years old. By a grownup that I truly trusted. After he raped me, he told me I had to return the next day or I would be ‘in trouble.’ And because I was terrified, and confused, I went back the next day and was raped again. I never told anyone what happened, but today I’m telling you.”

The New Jersey writer shares that he was raped. This drove him to destructive behavior for most of his life.

“I was hiding, I was drinking, I was at the gym; I was running around with other women. I was creating model homes, and then, just as soon as they were up, abandoning them. Classic trauma psychology: approach and retreat, approach and retreat. And hurting other people in the process,” Junot writes.

People on social media have expressed how much Junot’s deeply personal essay is vital to addressing sexual abuse.

Junot’s essay has gone viral on Twitter.

Some people want the topic talked about more seriously.

While we do have stats on rape and sexual abuse when it comes to females — according to the National Crime Victimization Survey one in six females ages 13 and older are victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault — we don’t, however, have exact figures when it comes to males.

Men, particularly Latino men who have been sexually abused or raped, rarely disclose that information, let alone report it to authorities.

“And since us Afro-Latinx brothers are viewed by society as always already sexual perils, very few people ever noticed what was written between the lines in my fiction—that Afro-Latinx brothers are often sexually imperilled,” Junot writes.

People on Twitter have spent the last couple days trying to digest the powerful essay.

It’s not easy to confront the unspoken sexual assaults that plague the boys in communities of color.

People wanted to take time to truly think through what the essay is bringing to light.

Something this strong and necessary deserves more serious thought than quick responses.

But, mostly, people are thankful that such a powerful and well-known figure is willing to shine light on sexual assault on young boys.

Thank you, Junot. We admire and appreciate your bravery.


READ: After 20 Years Junot Díaz Kept His Promise To His Goddaughters And Wrote A Picture Book

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Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris Wants To Invest $1 Billion To Test The Shameful Backlog Of Rape Kits In The US

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Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris Wants To Invest $1 Billion To Test The Shameful Backlog Of Rape Kits In The US

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Ahead of her scheduled appearance on the Rachel Maddow show, Kamala Harris made a huge announcement on Thursday. The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee and former District Attorney said that if she wins the White House, she wants to invest $1 billion to eliminate the rape kit backlog nationwide. 

Kamala Harris’ plan is the “first of its kind of a 2020 Democratic candidate, the California Democrat’s plan would invest the money into states, allowing them to close their rape kit backlogs and prevent further buildups, within her first term” if elected into the Oval Office, according to CNN

The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee tweeted that her plan to close the nationwide rape kit backlog “would cost about $2 million less each year than what taxpayers have spent on Trump’s golf trips.” 

According to CNN, “the campaign linked this rollout to the news of Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire indicted this week on charges of sex trafficking and sexually assaulting teenage girls.” Earlier this week, when news broke, Harris also called for U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta –– who served as Miami U.S. Attorney and cut the plea deal for Epstein –– to resign. 

“It’s time we had someone in the White House who is committed to fighting for survivors, not protecting predators,” she tweeted.  

According to END THE BACKLOG, a national non-profit organization founded by actress and activist Mariska Hargitay with the mission to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, “every 92 seconds, someone is assaulted in the United States.” 

END THE BACKLOG also reports that it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in the police department and crime lab storage facilities across the country. This is what’s known as the rape kit backlog. But since most jurisdictions do not have systems in place for counting or tracking rape kits tested, END THE BACKLOG says “we cannot be sure of the total number of untested rape kits nationwide.” 

Rape kits are used by medical professionals to collect evidence while they examine survivors of sexual assault. The DNA extracted from rape kits is a useful tool to solve and prevent sexual assault crimes as well. Refinery29 reports that in the past decade, “about 225,000 known untested rape kits have been uncovered.” 

And while a growing number of states across the U.S. are fighting toward ending the backlog, there’s more work to be done. Since it costs an average $1,000 to $1,500 to test one rape kit, Harris’ plan to invest $1 billion to end rape kit backlog nationwide would hopefully make a powerful difference.  

In a statement to CNN, Harris said, “The federal government can and should prioritize justice for survivors of sex abuse, assault, and rape. As California’s Attorney General, I committed resources and attention to clearing a backlog of 1,300 untested rape kits at state-run labs, and we got it done within my first year in office. We need the same focus at the nationwide level to pursue justice and help hold predators accountable.” 

She also took to Instagram to announce her proposal of investing $1 billion to end rape kit backlog nationwide. In her caption, she wrote:

“In the last decade, roughly 225,000 untested rape kits have been uncovered. Too many survivors aren’t getting the justice they deserve. As president, I will close the nationwide rape kit backlog by the end of my first term.” 

According to USA Today, Harris’ proposal “states would receive additional funding for testing if they conduct an annual count and report of untested rape kits. The plan also would require law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits ‘within a short time frame,’ update victims who want to know about the status of testing of their rape kits and would increase the availability of rape kits for law enforcement, particularly in remote and rural areas.”  

CNN also interviewed RAINN President Scott Berkowitz said that Harris’ new proposal “would do wonders for ongoing efforts.”

“The backlog has been a huge and ongoing problem, we’ve been making progress on it over time, but having that large of a federal commitment would do wonders for testing the rest of the cases that haven’t been tested yet,” he said. 

“From the survivors’ standpoints, these kits are the result of really long, really unpleasant rape examinations where soon after the assaults, they are poked and prodded and they gather everything from the victim’s body and the clothing. It’s the last thing anyone wants to go through and to put yourself that and not have evidence even tested is a terrible statement and demoralizing,” he adds. 

Many women on social media were also open about how necessary and overdue this investment on the rape kit backlog would be. 

The Salvadoran Rape Victim Who Was Sentenced To 20 Years For Delivering a Stillborn Child Is Up Against A New Trial

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The Salvadoran Rape Victim Who Was Sentenced To 20 Years For Delivering a Stillborn Child Is Up Against A New Trial

Evelyn Beatríz Hernández was just a student in high school when she was raped in 2016. As a victim, Hernández, who is from El Salvador, said that she was unaware that the assault had resulted in pregnancy when she went into labor in a bathroom in her home and gave birth to a stillborn. Still, despite the tragedies that befell her, Hernández found herself in even worse conditions when she was arrested, put on trial and ultimately sentenced to 30 years in prison for the alleged aggravated murder of the stillborn.

Now, 21, Hernández is due for a retrial.

In February, Hernández’s sentence was annulled, thanks to efforts of civil rights groups.

During her trial in 2017, Hernández was sentenced to a 30-year prison sentence by a female judge who ruled she had induced an abortion. The young woman’s home country of El Salvador has one of the world’s most strict abortion bans where abortion is also illegal in cases of rape, incest, or even when the mother’s life is in jeopardy.

Now, civil rights groups are pushing for Hernández’s release.

“We’re convinced that Evelyn is innocent,” Ana Martínez, a lawyer part of the advocacy organization Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion and one of Hernández’s lawyers explained to Reuters in an interview. “We hope that on Monday the rule of law and justice wins in this country.”

The CDFA has said that there is no proof that Hernández had actually sought to abort her child.

They also found that she had experienced pregnancy complications. Hernández has said that she was unaware of her pregnancy and confused symptoms for stomach aches and cramps and “experienced intermittent bleeding which she presumed to be her menstrual period.”

El Salvador is one of six countries in the world with complete abortion bans. It’s conviction rates are high and today they have nearly 20 women in jail for abortion crimes after experiencing miscarriages and stillbirths.

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