The past couple of days have been tough, which explains the short hiatus from this blog. We were hit with disheartening news after disheartening news around the globe. Here in Nigeria, a young student (Uwaila Omozuwa) was raped and killed in the process by four hoodlums. A couple of days later, another girl was raped and killed by a group of men. People began to call out others for being rapists; celebrities and non-celebrities alike. Nigerian twitter was in an uproar, with women’s messages culminating into this one sentence—please stop raping us.
Image courtesy of Unsplash
This rape conversation is something that has been happening for years. People are confused as to what rape is and what it isn’t. If I go to a man’s house and we start getting it on, and in the middle of it, I ask him to stop, and he doesn’t, is that rape? If I wear a sexy outfit and parade the streets of Lagos, and someone forces himself on me because my cleavage and thighs were exposed, is that my fault? If a man put his hands on me inappropriately, is that rape or sexual assault? What if I report a violent sex crime to the authorities and no one believes me, does that mean I did not get raped?
The questions are endless, the point of having this conversation today is because people are hurting and they need some hope and also justice. Let us begin by defining what rape is. Rape according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the “unlawful sexual activity and usually, sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat or injury against a person’s will or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception.”
If one party does not give consent to sexual activity, and the other person forges ahead, then that is rape. For a very long time, rape was depicted to people as an act that convoluted force. Especially with what we saw on the media growing up, rape involved a guy or group of guys, forcefully having sex with a woman. Violence was present in such circumstances, with victims left alone to deal with the trauma.
But as time went on, we began to understand that not all men who are rapists used force and violence on their victims. Some of them coerced the women into having sex with them, often using terms like—no one would find out, or if you tell anyone, they would not believe you. They wanted to keep their depraving acts in the dark, hence coercing their victims to be mute. The victims full of fear, left these cases unreported, while their trauma came out in ways unimaginable.
As women began to speak out, especially in recent years with the ME TOO movement, the slogan—no means no, was birth. This was a message to people saying—if I don’t give my consent and you continue to have your way with me, then you have raped me and you would be held accountable. If we already started having sex and I change my mind amid the event and I communicate that to you whilst you still go ahead, then you have raped me and you would be held accountable—no means no.
When it comes to the issue of sex, sex has a time and a place. As a Christian, I often speak on topics from a biblical standpoint. Sex is such a powerful thing that God designed it to be had within the confines of marriage. Marriage is meant to be a haven, where both parties feel safe, are trustworthy, and are vulnerable with each other. Although it has been said that some men rape their wives, but that boils down to the individual, such a person must have raped women in the past and got away with it.
How can rape be reduced?
Unfortunately, rape like any other crime or sin cannot be completely done away with, because we live in a fallen world, and as long as the world exists in this state, there will be evil. However, crimes can be reduced by implementing steeper punishments for perpetrators and educating young people about the dangers of rape.
The authorities should be more serious when it comes to the crime of rape, even if it is between spouses—sexual assault is sexual assault. The majority of women keep quiet after a violation, because one, they blame themselves, two, “no one” would believe them. If law enforcement officers do their jobs, victims will feel safer, the criminals would be held accountable, while others who might harbor such desires, would learn from those that have gone ahead of them.
It is just like any situation; why do I renew my car papers when it’s time? Because I don’t want to pay a fine if I get caught. Why haven’t I renewed them over a couple of months (regardless of the lockdown) because there are no law enforcement officers in the route I commute, so I get away with that (oops). Why do people continue raping people, (other than the fact that the world is evil) its because law enforcers are not doing everything within their power to put the criminals behind bars, hence crime continues.
I once read a person’s comment about eradicating rats from their school, they said that they caught one rat, set it on fire, and no rat disturbed them ever again! I’m not sure if this is a true story, but let us pretend for a second that it was, that sent a message across to the other creatures saying to them that the said location was never to be messed with. I am not saying rapists should be burned to death, but you catch my drift. When people see that a rapist gets 15 years in a Nigerian prison, they will begin to seek the help that they need to eradicate such thoughts from their minds, because evil is first conceived in the mind.
Train up a child
If young people are educated against the dangers of rape and how it messes up society, they will tend to stay away from it. It is easier to mold a person’s mind when they are much younger, than when they are adults. I was driving in traffic one day, wearing a dress that was above my knee, and a young boy who hawked goods for sale began to pleasure himself at the sight of my thighs.
I was scared, distraught, and could not get away from him because I was strapped in traffic. Now, that young boy has probably seen men assault women because I cannot think of what else could give him the audacity to pleasure himself, with such boldness at the sight of an adult, without the fear of me doing something about it. And that is how the cycle continues.
Parents need to have this conversation with their kids early on, the same way they tell females to stay away from boys is the same way they should educate their boys not to have inappropriate relationships with girls. Also, parents, pay attention to what your kids watch, who they follow on social media, and the kinds of conversations they have online, all these things are contributing factors to the narrative your kids are forming in their minds as it pertains to sex.
Adult men (and also women), please stay away from pornography, we cannot negate the important fact that this also has a huge role to play in rape culture, plaguing the society. If the mind is fed with depravity, it will manifest in various forms; rape is one of them. Get acquainted with the articles about pornography by clicking the links below.
Finally, women, God has blessed us with strong instincts. If you feel unsafe in a situation, that is because the situation is not safe, do yourself good and get out of there. Before you go out on a date, let your friends/family know where you are going. Keep them in the loop throughout the process, and if you start to feel something is off, let them know. Your safety is not worth going to that man’s house if it doesn’t sit right with you. Protect yourself, listen to that inner voice.
If you have been sexually assaulted or raped please contact your local police authorities. If you are in Lagos, Nigeria, you can contact—Lagos State Domestic Sexual and Violence Response Team, and someone would be happy to help.
Articles on Pornography