The Nigerian social media space has once again been hit with several accusations of rape, with troops of twitter users sharing their personal encounters, experiences and opinions. Rape is nonconsensual, people are assaulted in so many different ways, and no excuses whatsoever justifies this monstrous act.
Not what the victim was wearing, not who they were with or what they drank. If sexual intercourse was not consensual, it can be classified as rape. It is important that there is a positive affirmation “Yes, I want to”. Never assume that silence equates to consent.
Rape, sexual assault and harassment have different meanings, however, any effort to differentiate them can pass attempt to trivialise the act. An act that can alter a victim’s life or mean the beginning of a whole new life for them. We have seen it in the autobiographical movies, ‘Brian Banks’ ‘If Beale street could talk’ and other accounts of sexual assaults.
The burden of proof should never rest on rape victims, nevertheless, it is important that accusations have proof and constitutional backing as every false accusation can taint the movement against sexual predators or temper the force of the crime. Refusing to believe a rape survivor, signals to all women, including survivors that they don’t matter, that their bodies can be used, violated and discarded.
We know that the false reporting of rape occurs in around 2% to 8% of cases. But we also know that rape is under-reported, and there is a mistaken belief that false allegations are common, truth is they may not be common but they exist.
“False rape allegations are a reality and are incredibly unfortunate for the accused. Therefore, it is important that we investigate and never dismiss rape allegations. It is important that the accused speaks up, and clears their name. Rape allegations are not one to be silent about.”
Sexual assault is not solely perpetrated by males, and the victims are not exclusively female. The number of men is most likely drastically higher than those reported considering that society still refuses to accept that men can be victims of sexual assault and rape. There is a common misconception that men cannot be sexually assaulted. We have been taught that men are sexual beings who will never refuse an intimate encounter.
What some may see as a mockery of the situation, the preach for consent can never be too much, it is essential that our boys and men are taught in the school of consent.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time, even if you’ve already started getting intimate. All sexual activity must stop when consent is withdrawn. Being in a relationship doesn’t oblige anyone to do anything. Consent should never be implied or assumed, even if you’re in a relationship or have had sex before.
- Consent can be revoked.
- Coerced consent and consent under pressure is not consent.
- Consent given out of fear is not consent.
- Silence is not consent.
- Consent is given by someone who cannot give proper consent (an underage, an unconscious person) is not consent.
You could get right to the point and ask:
Can I kiss you?
Can I take this off? What about these?
Do you want to have sex, or would you like to wait?
Can I [fill in the blank]?
You can also take the opportunity to use open communication about sex and boundaries as foreplay. Here are some ideas:
I think it’s hot when we [fill in the blank], do you want to do this?
It feels so good when you [fill in the blank], do you want to do this?
Can I take your clothes off?
Can I kiss you here?
If you’re already in the heat of the moment, you could say:
Are you comfortable with me doing this?
Do you want me to stop?
How far are you comfortable going tonight?
Calling out sexual offenders and abusers remains a task for us all, one in which helps us to have a more peaceful society.
Remember, YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME, even if:
- Your attacker was an acquaintance, date, friend or spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, parent, sibling, guardian, another relative, or even employer.
- You have been sexually intimate with that person or with others before.
- You were drinking or using drugs.
- You froze and did not or could not say “no” or were unable to fight back physically.
- You were wearing clothes that others may see as seductive.
- You said “yes” but later said “no” and were not listened to.
Things you can do when you’re sexually assaulted:
Be safe first.
Visit the hospital for a SANE exam. (Sexual Assault Nurse Exam).
Lagos State Domestic Sexual and Violence Response Team.
Contact @DSVRT you can also dial *6820#
Inform a friend immediately so you have an alibi.
We must direct our attention towards those who abuse and then lie to cover it up. We must also apply some scrutiny to the claims made by those who automatically cast those abused as liars.