Counselor: Latinos must address sexual violence

Two days before the Northwestern community rallies against rape and sexual violence at “Take Back the Night,” a sexual assault counselor told students Tuesday that the Latino community must be more open in dealing with such topics.

“We don’t even have a word for rape in the Spanish language,” Jamie Jiménez, coordinator of NU’s Sexual Assault Education Program, told about 25 people at the Multicultural Center. “The Politics of Sexual Violence.” “If we don’t have a word for what’s happening, it may be difficult for a community to come forward.”

The talk, called “The Politics of Sexual Violence,” was sponsored by Latino Greek organizations Sigma Lambda Gamma and Omega Delta Phi.

Rape survivors often turn to family and friends, Jiménez said, so everyone in the Latino community must learn to help them.

“A lot of the education (in overcoming sexual violence) may be directed towards thinking about your family, thinking about your children,” she said. “With this kind of teaching, a lot of people may come out.”

Cultural obstacles might prevent some survivors from speaking out, Jiménez said. Since the Roman Catholic church prohibits divorce, some Catholic Latina women might be reluctant to discuss sexual violence within their marriages.

“A lot of women may talk about leaving it up to faith,” she said.

Racism against the Latino community might also prevent survivors of sexual violence from speaking out, Jiménez said. Past incidents, such as police officers hanging up on Spanish-speaking callers in an emergency, have bred mistrust of outside institutions.

Latina women might also be reluctant to identify Latino attackers because they are afraid of contributing to negative stereotypes, Jiménez said.

“A lot of Latina women just decided it’s too much to do this,” she said. “This is why we must break the myths about sexual violence. We deserve the same respect and treatment as any community.”

Christina Saenz, a Weinberg junior, said she found the event to be positive, but she had hoped for more discussion among the audience.

“Everyone was really silent, which is reflective of what goes on in the Latino community,” she said. “Consciousness-raising is very important. Realizing that this is a personal thing has become critical for us.”

Jiménez added: “The fact of the matter is we’ve got to be more proactive. We’ve got to shift that paradigm so we’ve got a more open and free community.”