“What was she doing out so late?” “Why was she wearing such tight, revealing clothes?” “If she visited him at his house she can’t say she didn’t want it to happen.”
If you are one of those who says one or more of the above statements, then you are promoting rape culture. If the term “rape culture” sounds alien to you, allow me to explain. Rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting or society in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, slut shaming, sexual objectification, trivializing or outright denial of rape or refusal to acknowledge the harm caused by rape.
A very basic study of the Nigerian society will reveal the existence of rape culture which cuts across all facets of society regardless of gender, social class, education, background or exposure. The prevalence of rape culture largely accounts for why there are very minimal convictions for rape in Nigerian courts. Victims prefer to nurse their wounds (both physical and psychological) in silence rather than expose themselves to the scrutiny of the public (law enforcement officers included).
One of the major reasons why rape culture exists is due to how as a society we have made light of serious issues affecting women because such issues are seen as women’s only issue which only they have a responsibility to address. Contrary to this opinion however, ending rape culture is everyone’s responsibility and here are things we need to do to end it.
- MEN SHOULD LEARN TO KEEP THEIR HANDS TO THEMSELVES: Men need to learn to keep their hands to themselves. There is never an excuse to reach out and touch a lady without her consent. For some strange reason some men seem to think they have a right to touch women whenever and however they please. This feeling of control and dominion over women’s bodies is part of why rape culture exists.
- STOP NORMALIZING RAPE CULTURE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE: It is not unusual when people speak out about rape or sexual harassment for others to treat rape or sexual violence with normalcy like it’s no big deal. It is a big deal! There is nothing normal about it.
- STOP LAUGHING ABOUT RAPE: When a friend or colleague makes an inappropriate comment or joke about rape, it is not cool to laugh about it. Do the right thing, call them out. Stand up for what is right.
- STOP ENDORSING RAPE CULTURE WITH SILENCE: There seems to be a conspiracy of silence around the issue of rape. People do not like talking about it. There is a need to not only acknowledge it but to also talk about it and treat it as the crime that it is.
- STOP BLAMING VICTIMS: It doesn’t matter what she was wearing, if she was out very late at night or if she was drunk. If she was coerced, forced, it is rape. Simple. Stop telling victims they shouldn’t have gone somewhere at a particular time of the day.
- STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR RAPISTS: Stop making excuses for people who participate in rape culture or sexual violence. It is common for people to make excuses about statements that promote rape culture with statements like “he is being a jerk”, “it’s just locker room talk.” No its not! People who make such statements should be called out and treated with the disdain they deserve. One disturbing aspect of rape culture is how especially among young men, rape is viewed as some sort of rite of passage or a young man just sowing his wild oats. We need to call it out for what it is. It is rape, plain and simple. Glamorizing it only perpetuates rape culture.
- STOP TELLING GIRLS THAT IT’S THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT: Whenever rape or sexual assault is being discussed the focus is always on the girls or women protecting themselves against sexual assault. This needs to change. Focus should also be made towards teaching men that it is their responsibility not to commit rape.
- DON’T BE A BYSTANDER: We tend to be a society of “if it does not concern me, I will stay out of it.” So when people witness any form of sexual harassment in public, they avert their eyes and move on. This needs to change. If you witness any form of sexual harassment against anyone, call it out directly.
About the Author
This blog post is written by Usman Shamaki. A Legal Practitioner, Proof Reader, Writer, and Founder: Blu Phoenix Literary. He is also a part of the Share Anonymous team.