Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there’. – Kurt Cobain
My friend told me how she has been teaching her daughters to boldly attack and shame anyone that tries to touch any part of their body intentionally without their consent. This was in response to a post on Facebook where a lady was teaching women what to teach their girls. You know, how to attack, where and how to hit effectively to draw blood, the vulnerable spots and the works.
I have been in circumstances where I wished I knew a bit of taekwondo or martial arts. This, coming from an extremely non-violent person speaks volumes. Yes, I believe every woman should be able to defend herself against all forms of #ViolenceAgainstWomen. It is a matter of necessity actually. If we cannot all hit our oppressors, then we should have pepper sprays and stilettoes.
There are modern means of defense against rape, including the use of apps and networks being taught to women and girls. Parents should encourage their kids to fight back any way they can. We teach each other to be stronger, to fight back, to resist, to be more careful – all excellent but inadequate.
It is good to encourage women to avoid rape but better to teach or coerce the men not to rape. It is time to channel more energy towards educating men on the evils of rape. I mean, if there were no rapists, there would be no need for my daughter to learn boxing as a defense method, unless of course she willingly wants to box for the love of it. Imagine a world free of sexual predators!
Now, how do we teach men not to rape? How do we make the rapist to unlearn sexual molestation? – Cultural and attitudinal reorientation. This culture that teaches boys to hide their emotions, to be a ‘man’, to go for whatever they want at all costs, to feel superior to the girls need to be addressed.
Boys must be made to realize that consent is needed before you can have any form of sexual contact with her. It does not matter whether she is under the influence, unconscious or dressed like a whore. Teach young boys that ‘NO’ simply means ‘NO’.
Our society depicts women as sexual objects most of the times, their humanity as women forgotten. Boys and society at large see women as objects for the pleasure of men. You see men laughing about how their friend tied her to a post and raped her, you hear them discussing how she was wailing like a baby while they gang-raped a woman. The woman is nothing, has no emotions to be considered, no self-worth, no value. She is to be used for their pleasure and then discarded.
The disheartening aspect of reporting rape is unbelief, denial and victim-blaming. Oh she asked for it. Lolz, you want me to believe that Mr. H will stoop so low as to look at you in a sexual way, you? No, my husband would not do such a thing, he simply cannot. (Rolling my eyes). The fact that she was raped is shameful enough in itself, to be labeled a liar and dehumanized in addition is adding salt to injury. Why not investigate the matter first?
Intervention! Don’t stand by and say it is not your business. Hush your friends when they make lousy jokes about girls. Stop the perpetrator before he indulges in the act. It can save a woman from a lifetime of pain and trauma.
Stronger punitive measures against rape should be in place and enforced accordingly. There are no sacred cows where rape is concerned. Whoever is found guilty should be punished adequately. The loopholes in some legal systems that make it easy for rapists to thrive need to be plugged.
Parents and wards, let us raise gentlemen who would love and respect every woman they come in contact with. It is not too early to start.
In our conversations with ourselves, our peers, colleagues, neighbors, children, wards or students, emphasis should be on men learning not to rape women.
I don’t know about anywhere else, but the rate at which men are sexually molesting minors in Nigeria is alarming. It makes me wonder…
Could it be that there’s something suddenly spectacular about the little children’s private parts? Is there a scarcity of prostitutes? Maybe all the matured and willing ladies are now lesbians? I don’t understand it.
It has been a year of child molestation, from one gory incident to the other till the climax with the #JusticeForOchanya incident.
After the death of the little Ochanya as a result of protracted and consistent rape by father and son, the floodgates of child molestation were flung wide open.
From Benue state to Bayelsa state, from Lagos to Abuja, various cases of children being raped by teachers, neighbours and fathers abound, paedophiles everywhere.
My Issue with Caregivers
In the face of this appalling situation, some adults choose to live in a fool’s paradise while some remain careless and carefree. You read comments like ‘oh I know that guy and he is very responsible and religious’. As if that means anything these days.
Since I began my personal sensitization of parents and caregivers, it has dawned on me that lots of adults are naive and blind. I was trying to enlighten a mother of a sweet 2 year old girl, highliting it with instances of recent rape cases of minors, some younger than her daughter. Her response was that God will not allow any rapist to touch her daughter. Well, maybe God is too idle that He’d come down toclean the child’s nose on behalf of the mum. Or the molested kids are God’s arch enemies. What is wrong with her being more vigilant, or more enlightening?
What we fail to understand is that rapists are everywhere and can come in different facades, colors, status and profession. A pastor can be a rapist. A married man can be a rapist. The recent case in Bayelsa state is of a man with two wives and what my friend termed a ‘battalion of concubines’. Yet he was not satisfied.
Rapists are not necessarily vulgar, ugly momsters. They can actually be handsome, sweet, quiet and ‘responsible’. They can reside within your home, inside the school or in your place of worship.
The key is getting yourself enlightened so you can enlighten and protect your younger ones. There’s nothing wrong in teaching them about sex and rape, nothing wrong with equipping them to fight and speak up.
This is a case where prevention is definitely better than cure.
Sexual abuse and molestation in Nigeria is something we are all used to as females. A guy can boldly and shamelessly share the story of how he forcefully had sex with a number of girls to a mixed audience of male and female, young and old. Instead of the expected outburst from the audience, especially the female ones, don’t be surprised when you get nothing but boisterous laughter and such comments as ‘serves the bitch right’, ‘what was she even doing alone with you?’, ‘if they won’t give you freely, you take by force, after all, you are the man’ and that ends that.
Rape in Nigeria is often the fault of the victim and therefore there is nothing to discuss or fight for, they ask for it. And so the culture of silence continues, we feed it and nurture it, all of us. We nurture it by not speaking up, by not supporting the victims, by shaming the victims, by pretending and accepting it as a norm.
I searched for #MeToo Nigeria on twitter and I came up with mostly lamentations of how it just cannot work in Nigeria – which is probably true, but can’t we just try a bit?
No, I have never been abused by a celebrity of any sort, but yes, I have suffered sexual molestation. In fulfillment of my promise in my last post, here goes…
My first gory experience with rape was after my university when I was looking for a better job than the one I had. He was my school mate in elementary school, I met him again as a course mate and the president of my departmental students’ Union in the university. He became my friend and the brother I didn’t have. This relationship continued even after school and we graduated into family friends.
My crime however, was that I pleaded with him to assist me in getting a better job, nearer home to which he gladly agreed. And when we met to discuss this issue, Buli, my friend felt that if he should help me, then I must have sex with him and when I said NO, he saw no other alternative than to forcefully have his way. He was a married man at the time, still is, with kids he adore, he is a church minister’s son. He was my friend, my brother from another mother, and he raped me and I did nothing about it aside feel sorry for myself and angry at him and myself in addition to dealing with the guilt.
My second experience with rape was just a couple of years back; you would think I would have been smarter by then. Ben used to share a shop with his brother in my cousin’s compound and my cousin’s house happened to be my second home. He was a likeable and trustworthy guy whom my cousin could entrust her shop and home to any time. He asked me out countless times and I politely declined each time. When I moved far away from home, we stopped communicating and I felt he was fed up with me. But when I relocated back home, he became a regular visitor in my mum’s home.
He invited me to his apartment several times and I declined but my cousin told me that since he was a nice person whom we all knew, that there was nothing untoward in going to his apartment. I visited him one afternoon. After the pleasantries, Ben began to list my sins for me, how I had declined his advances for so many years, how he had loved me for ages without my reciprocating. I apologized and explained to him again that I declined because I did not love him and we began to argue back and forth. Then he gave me the verdict that I cannot leave his apartment till I had given him sex. I guess that was my punishment and payment for all my atrocities. He locked his doors and took the keys, telling me that even the shouting spree I wanted to embark on would not help me as no one was around to hear me. After all the drama, Ben succeeded in sexually abusing me.
Maybe this would have helped. I think I need some lessons in taekwando.
Say No to Sexual abuse
I read somewhere about someone saying that sexual abuse is a western thing and it made me wonder if that is also our view in Nigeria. Maybe there are very few or no case of sexual abuse and predatory in Nigeria? It is possible right? Given that we are one of the most religious people of the world.
In case you don’t quite grasp what the Weinstein effect is all about, allow me to fill you in. 2017 was a year of sex abuse scandals which emanated from the USA, though prior to that, there have been other reported cases but of lesser magnitude. The American mega film producer and co-founder of Miramax films, Harvey Weinstein became the scape goat that created what is now popularly known as the tipping point of sexual scandal. According to Wikipedia, ‘the Weinstein effect is a global trend in which people come forward to accuse famous or powerful men of sexual misconduct’. It went on to say that the term came into use to describe a worldwide wave of these allegations as media outlets reported on numerous sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein.
These worldwide waves of allegations seem to exclude Nigeria and I tell you solemnly that it is not for lack of cases of sexual abuse/harassment, No sir! Our country is notorious for bribery and corruption and that includes sexual harassment in high and low places. From schools to offices, to churches, sexual misconduct abound. In fact, it is so pervasive that it seems to have become a norm, describe it as the seam of the Nigerian fabric and you wouldn’t be far from the truth. Students in the Nigerian tertiary institutions are beleaguered with sexual abuses from lecturers, and even non-academic staff for grades, hostel accommodation, or even certificates and of course money. The secondary schools are not left out mind you. The political arena is fraught with cases of sexual misconduct left and right, likewise the various offices, public and private alike. You need to play by their rules in order to get the job/position or get promoted. The churches are supposed to be safe haven for its members but the ministers of the churches hide under the cloak of religion to sexually harass their members in order to ‘rid them of infertility, demons, poverty’ and all what-not.
I have no doubt that almost every Nigerian woman, old or young has a personal history of sexual abuse to share. But unlike the western world, the name and shame thing will definitely backfire here because most of the powerful men are part of the rot. As I read about the Weinstein effect and the Weinstein scandal, I could not help but wish that it could be replicated in Nigeria, but who will bell the cat? For one, corruption is so entrenched into the system that the prey might become the predator if she attempts to name her predator especially without evidence and strong backing. Naming names might expose the victim to threats and dangers beyond her scope.
Let us for one minute dream that the Nigerian victim who was sexually abused by a big name in Nigeria is able to tell her story, will she be heard? Who would believe her and not accuse her of seeking for fame? Most importantly, will she get her justice? Or will she be ridiculed, punished and stigmatized? Some will even term her evil for wanting to expose the abuser, that is how religious we can get.
For three decades Mr. Weinstein harassed and abused women, for thirty years, he used his power to victimize young women. But in 2017, his full cup began to overflow. I was filled with awe when I read of the numerous bodies to which he hitherto had dealings with that not only dissociated themselves from the man, but stripped him of his position, power, honour and prestige in short order. I began to wish that Nigeria could become that courageous and transparent. The reverse would bebthe case here with all the high and mighty groups protecting their own and further victimising the victim.
In the wake of the Weinstein scandal came many other cases of sexual abuse accusations leveled against the powers that be in the world of entertainment, journalism, politics, judiciary, and many other sectors especially in the Western world. More victims, male and female found their voices and began to speak out.
The Weinstein effect has no effect in Nigeria, Nigeria is not even talking about it so how will the effect come about? You only hear or see individual snippets of it from private quarters on the social media. Most of us are scared of the repercussions but I believe there is something we can do here in Nigeria even if it means going anonymous. We can borrow a leaf from the Indian law student, Raya Sarkar
even though she is under fire from rapists and molesters and even feminists for her role in exposing abusers in the academia. Nigerian victims can also open this can of worms here not minding how bloody it can get.
In my next write up on this issue, I will share my own sexual assault experiences in solidarity with the #MeToo tag. I pray I find the courage to tell my story even if I am not able to name names… lolz.
I appreciate the fearless journalists and victims that gave life to the Weinstein effect. They have written their names in the sands of time and in the hearts of men and women of the world and posterity will not find them wanting.