While perusing the news links at reddit, I came across term new to me: Rape Tree. The headline which read, “‘Rape Trees’ Found Along Southern US Border” brought immediately to mind Michael Vick and I assumed that there was going to be some sort of dog fighting news on the border. I then remembered that the term in Vick’s case was rape stand and quickly learned that there’s a whole other brouhaha brewing up on the border. In the aforementioned article, Mariela Rosario writes:
Recently, a new method of marking territory has crossed over into the United States. “Rape trees” are popping up in Southern Arizona and their significance is horrific and disgusting. These “rape trees” are places where cartel members and coyotes rape female border crossers and hang their clothes, specifically undergarments, to mark their conquest and territory.
As a feminist living in Texas- a state in which our guard is on high alert due to “escalating border violence”- and frequent traveler to Mexico, I was especially interested in knowing more about what is being reported as a systematic abuse of illegally immigrating women. What I found may shock you because I found nothing of substance.
Because I’m not an avid follower of ultra conservative border blogs, I didn’t realize what a trigger this rape tree idea is for what I assume are anti-immigration and border wall types. From Minute Man blogs to far right leaning blogs (which, incidentally, link to each other) much of nothing has been said about the subject. One of the things that struck me in this search was the far too frequently repeated accounts such as the one found in a piece written by Clark A. Kirby, TX State Director and published in Canada Free Press which reads:
On Tuesday, April 17th, a routine event took place on the border. The victim, statistics show, was young, female, and of Latin American descent. We do not know her name and never will. She suffered, most likely, in silence. If she is still alive, she will suffer for the rest of her life. Evidence of her humiliation and subjugation was left at the scene for all to see – her underclothes hanging from the branch of the tree under which the detestable crime was committed. “Rape Trees” are a visible reminder of the dangers of our unsecured borders.
I’d say that’s a whole lot of conjecture on the part of Mr. Kirby but he’s not the only Texas politician running with this unfounded idea. Representative Ted Poe [R-TX] has submitted into the Congressional Record:
Ripped from the bodies of unwilling women, undergarments cling to branches of a tree just a few feet from the lawless U.S.-Mexico border, dozens of pairs of underwear thrown there by rapists.
These are called rape trees. Each pair is a trophy from a woman that was smuggled into the United States, victims that are heard screaming in the desert. They are raped, even gang raped by illegal human smugglers, then forced into silence.
These trees are a warning. Illegal immigrants evade our borders but crime doesn’t evade them. Some become criminals. Some become victims. They are raped, robbed and murdered by other illegals, human smugglers and brutal criminals who then claim other victims.
More than 70 percent of their rapes, murders and child sex crimes are against Americans. One expert who studies sex crimes says about a hundred illegal sex offenders cross the border every day, leaving thousands of victims every year.
Rape trees are a warning to illegals not to talk. They should be a warning to Americans as well, to shout out against illegal entry and human smuggling.
And that’s just the way it is.
Link after link provided the same blog stories all linking back to one or another similar post about ladies’ undergarments hanging in the trees near the border but not a one provided any sort of proof of rape. It would seem that in normal police work, underwear in trees without a victim or witness would not lead to a rape investigation. (This was verified by the dispatch operator of my local police department.) I did find though a blog that documented pictures of what is being termed “rape tree” as well as acres of strewn about clothing and garbage. To his credit, Gary Armstrong, the writer of that blog post had the integrity to use the word allegedly when describing a red panty in a tree as a trophy left by a rapist coyote.
While I’m certain that many of the bloggers writing about “rape trees” are genuine in their intent and concern, I can’t help but notice that the well meaning yet unfounded posts have led to a plethora of somewhat ignorant documentaries about the subject. Here’s a You Tube clip of one:
I’m assuming that the commentator has never been on a ski lift or visited a Dick’s Last Resort; ladies’ undergarments are frequently found on display at both. (Perhaps I should dial 911 and report a rape next time I’m skiing and see women’s underwear in the treetops under the lift.) “Border,” an award winning documentary directed by Chris Burgard has been reviewed as:
Fort Worth, TX (WiredPRNews.com)—The shocking documentary ‘Border’ shows how a porous border and limited enforcement enables human smugglers and drug traffickers to extort, rape, murder and humiliate those seeking a better life in the United States.
I’ve not seen “Border” but it is interesting to note that the filmmaker was influenced by Kuki Gallmann, a writer and conservationist living in Kenya who was sued in 2001 by 915 Kenyans after their eviction by her allegedly resulted in the rapes of many women.
I certainly don’t mean to discount the very real occurrences of violence against any woman but all this reading of non-proven incidents of rape brings to mind the term “useful idiot.” It’s a term I heard used in a 1984 news program featuring Soviet KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov. In that interview, Mr. Bezmenov described how our country would be demoralised and ripped at the seams by useful idiots who parrot in news articles tripe fomented by those with larger agendas. That idea that some women are raped while attempting to cross the border should never be discounted; I don’t doubt there is rape and other violence in some situations. The idea of panties in trees being proof of widespread rape is what is laughable. The conjectures without victims, witnesses or other proof make a mockery of the very real subject of abuse and the people who copy and paste such nonsense in blog posts are either well meaning idiots or idiots with an agenda, but idiots nonetheless.