Societies have stigmas. These typically vary from country to country and are based on outliers that differ from what a society deems normal. An unusual physical attribute, a mental or physical disability, is sometimes enough to generate harsh judgment and alienation from others.
In Morocco, being a known “rape victim” is so stigmatized that victims of rape are often forced to marry their rapists in order to avoid this label. Through marrying their rapists, victims escape this scarlet letter, in favor of a typically short and abusive marriage. These victim-rapist nuptials don’t usually last long and end in divorce. In Moroccan society, being labeled “divorced” is much more acceptable than being labeled “raped.”
Rape is my scarlet letter too. Although people cannot tell I’ve been raped through common interactions with me, I used to think they could. As I silently suffered through the aftermath of sexual assault, my friends and family could tell that something was wrong, but didn’t know what. Although it always clouded my consciousness, it still took many years for me to speak about what happened. As a result, my healing process began, and I never would’ve guessed that one day being raped would brand me as undesirable.