Thursday, December 22, 2005

Rape in Houston Convention Center after Katrina

After publishing a Hurricane Katrina Aftermath post last night, I went to a chat room for Katrina survivors, and began chatting with some people who had been through serious challenges following the storm. Many conversations were heartbreaking, but none was as disturbing as a story about a young woman who was raped in the Houston convention center after having been evacuated there from New Orleans.

The 22 year old was a college student living at home, and had been separated from her family in New Orleans, thus traveled to Houston alone. In the convention center, conditions were horrible, with a few thousand residents and no police or security at all. There were a few American Red Cross workers, but no protection for the people relocated to the convention center.

In the night, the woman was attacked while sleeping by multiple men. It was completely dark, and she could not see their faces. But she could hear other similar events transpiring all around her; and worse, she heard no sounds of people defending the victims of these attacks. This woman was sure that, as she could hear the attacks, the other people could hear them as well, and yet no one lifted a finger to help.

Now admittedly, this story came to me by way of a chat, so it’s hard to say if it’s true or not. But other stories were circulating with a similar nature, and they all raise some very serious questions about how our “enlightened” western society handles crisis situations.

In March of 1997 I was outside of Café Apropo in Tel Aviv when it was blown up. I, like all the people on the street, went to help survivors, and I was struck by the three Palestinians working side by side with me to help the victims of this crime. Contrast that with the Houston Convention Center, where people actually attacked other victims. Pretty sharp contrast, if you ask me.

Yes, Americans have come together during other catastrophes, and perhaps Katrina was some sort of anomaly. But it certainly requires consideration, when the basic principles of humanity seem to go out the window during a situation like the one we faced after Katrina.

Posted by Scottage at 5:50 PM / | |