Tomorrow we will be celebrating the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women and violence in itself has got many forms. Violence can sometimes be physical but there can be verbal violence .There can also be sexual violence which can be first manifest as emotional violence. And when we celebrate a day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It brings us to a place where we consider one of the greatest forms of violence against women- the subject of sexual violence and considering rape .Current statistics show that about 2.5% of women and 0.4% of male have been victims of a sexual offence with about 90% of the victims reporting that the perpetrator was known to them and these statistics vary from region to region although it is common consensus that rape or attempted rape is largely under reported due to several factors such as stigma, fear etc
There are several times I have heard some ladies boast about their chastity before marriage and while I am a firm believer in this , I sometimes wonder whenever I hear people making these assertions if they realize how hurting it must be for someone else who actually had theirs stolen from them (usually forcefully). before they even had the chance to decide .
In our society today there is the possibility that you or someone you know probably may have had gone through this kind of trauma, It is not just about whether it happened or not but even just dealing with the fact that one was about to be violated can be very traumatic and disheartening. Hence I believe there is a need for sensitivity when these matters are discussed .You will be surprised to find out how many of your friends have been sexually assaulted ,until they eventually feel safe enough to confide in you . I still remember one of the very first experiences.
It happened when I was sitting for my GCSE s and met one of my teachers who had taught me in the extra school lessons I attended years back when I was in primary school.. You know how teachers could be a child’s hero and he was one of such. I was happy to see him in the examination centre as he was one of the invigilators and when he suggested we go over to where he lived, I innocently followed.
He must have lived in a shared house as I cannot really remember why the room we were in had a bed. I sat down on this innocently chatting away as he asked questions, catching up with the years that had gone by. After the conversation had gone on for a while, he suddenly reached out his hand and touched me on my arm, like a stroke.
There was something about the touch that made me so uncomfortable and then seeing his advances were frightening ,he asked me if anything was wrong and if I had not been with a man before. Man ke? This sounded like what I had heard in secondary school,(one of my classmates said her mother told her that if a man touches you, you will get pregnant!).
Although I could not really explain it, something about the stroke spoke loudly to me of an impending doom, demanding I removed myself from the situation. I replied in the negative and got up to leave as fast and far as my legs could carry me, This uncle was definitely not an uncle at all.
Recounting to a friend, she related her own experience. She was working for a lady school proprietor and somehow , the job role extended to doing some household chores and one day while she was making the bed of the lady proprietor, the lady’s son came into the room and wanted something more. She begged and begged knowing that he could easily overpower her. He refused to listen and locked the door .She was desperate and began to pray for wisdom. After the chap had locked the door, he told her no one would know, she then said to him, “well you may have locked the door and it seems no one will know but I will cooperate with you only if you can close the eyes of God who is looking at both of us from the ceiling” .Luckily, that struck his conscience and he let her go free.
But not everyone is as lucky as this and if you are a lady, it is something to be aware of especially when you are single. This is not saying the married ones are exempt as I heard recently of a man who went to work and his neighbour raped his wife. When he was accosted, he said the devil made him do it. How exactly did the devil make him do it is what I am yet to figure out.
So as women, we have to be smart. There is also nothing wrong in taking some self-defense lessons and teaching our daughters also. There are some certain precautionary things that we should be aware of and being naive could be too costly.
Unless otherwise proven, any male could become a potential rapist (another friend recounted to me how her uncle came into her room and made advances, when she expressed shock, he was like, ”are you not a university girl?)Sad though but it is true that even blood relatives cannot be fully trusted. In short, most children are sexually abused by people they know. The holidays will be here soon and I would advise we keep an eye on our children as much as possible. It would actually help if we let them know what is acceptable, so that they can tell us if anything untoward takes place.
My elder brother had his final year project on Rape and says that the only requirement for rape to happen is the presence of a rapist. I could not agree more.
Sometimes after this gruesome act has been committed, the rapist tries to give excuses and even the victim is made to feel something she did was the cause of the horrible incident. If we truly love someone, rape should not happen. Sex should be freely given with both parties mutually consenting without any form of coercion or threats.
And perhaps you are reading this and know you have been a perpetrator of this crime, it is not too late to apologize to the lady . I do not want to believe it was pleasure for you but just in case it was, that selfish three minutes pleasure has left a life changing impact on another human being. It is another act of gender-based violence and being able to own up to it and apologize without giving excuses is a genuine sign of true masculinity.
So as we continue with the 16 days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence against Women, let me plead with us firstly, to ensure we are not perpetrators and secondly, to be sensitive to those who have been victims. There is no need shaming a victim or asking her to show proof or more annoyingly, questioning why she is talking about the matter now, several years after it has happened.
Everyone is entitled to the right to deal with their trauma in their own peculiar way and when they eventually open up, maturity demands that we empathize with them, letting them know we believe them, it was never their fault and it should never have happened. They were violated and most likely, their cries of No was not heeded to by someone who claimed to love.
No means No and the absence of No does not necessarily mean yes .
Have a great weekend.