Changing society’s view on rape is key if we want to fight this horrible gender-based-crime. Adebola Aduwo elaborates:
“I loved him. He loved me too. At least, I thought he did. Until he violated my trust and violently had his way with me, minutes after I told him I wasn’t ready to have sex. He was my boyfriend, why did I feel so helpless? Wasn’t I supposed to feel safe with a man I trustevid?”- Survivor
“My uncle raped me several times. I said ‘several’ because I can’t count how many times he did it. He told me to keep it a secret or he would kill me. What was I to do? I wasn’t even 8 yet. So I let him. It hurt but I just got tired of fighting him off. I told my parents about it when I turned 12. They got upset for a few days and that was it. My uncle is still a free man.” – Survivor
“I had a really hectic week and I thought cooling off at the club was a good idea. I met this super cute guy at the bar, we were sipping our drinks and having a great conversation. Well, that was all I remembered. It was a blur afterwards. I woke up to a warm, sweaty weight on my body. Torn clothes, big strong hands, blood and a phone camera. It took a while to understand what was going on. I was weak and I wanted him to be done with whatever he was doing so I could beg to go home. That was just the beginning. There were four of them. And they took turns in raping me. They should have killed me that night. I don’t feel alive anymore…” – Survivor
One would think that following the increased public outcry against these violent crimes, the prevalence of rape would have decreased. Will this day ever come? In the news, we hear stories of men who force themselves on 8-month-old babies and 8-year-old girls. It’s so mildly reported too: “Man has sex with an eight-year-old girl”. NO. That is not sex. That is rape! It is sickening how rape is painted as just another story that should be forgotten after a few days. Rape culture is not normal.
Girls are being assaulted every second by the men they look to for protection. With every sexual abuse case comes a number of underwhelming remarks – have you heard any of these before?
“You weren’t dressed decently”, “Why were you out so late?”, “Stop being dramatic, it’s not as if you were a virgin anyway”, “I didn’t hear you scream, you probably enjoyed it”, “He’s your husband, he owns your body. You can’t call that rape”, “If you force yourself on a prostitute, is it rape or shoplifting?”
Instead, it should be statements like these that come to mind when we shape our attitudes around gender-based violence:
My clothing or lack of it does not give anyone a license to touch me when I do not consent to be being touched. Maybe we’ve had sex in the past but I do not want it anymore. Stop forcing me. I am human, just like you, and if I choose to party or do something as simple as walking to a store down the road at night, I do not automatically qualify to be on your long list of victims. I am your cousin, not an experiment. Stop groping me. My no means no!
Consent is a foreign word to far too many people and the origin of this entire situation can be traced to entitlement.
Never in my wildest thoughts would I imagine Faa being raped for refusing to have unprotected sex. I came across a number of comments on social media insinuating that she was to blame because she let Bada have his way the first time. Victim blaming is never acceptable and no one ever deserves to be raped.
We are so obsessed with casually discrediting rape allegations and stigmatizing the abused, that we fail to realize how we are turning the victim into the accused, giving perpetrators room to continue with their beastly acts.
— ofentse (@no_ofents) April 20, 2018
Too few people wonder why the sexually violated are reluctant to share their experience. How can justice be served when culture shuns any slight act that makes men feel less superior than they are used to? Where families would rather protect their names from shame, and leave the outcome to fate.
Surviving rape is already deeply disturbing. And yet, dealing with the physical and psychological trauma that comes with it is another daunting task. It’s high time we stopped with the stigmatization and instead, focus on how to adequately punish the perpetrators.
This war is one that has to be won.