Sexual abuse has been plaguing African communities for generations, long before the colonists came to exploit preexisting social constructs and gender biases within the African structure. One being the onus placed on women to be subservient to men, damned to be nothing more than house wives, domesticated and coerced, empowering men commit inhumane abuses against women.
Then you wonder why these issues are more prevalent in this time than ever before, considering the effort social justice activists and legal scholars have put into curbing this epidemic.
Unfortunately people are still moving mad in 2019 ‘turning male offenses into female trials’ obviously from the orthodox patriarchal subjugation of women and people of other marginalized genders in Africa.
I’ve compiled some reported instances of rape, with names changed. Abita speaks of her escape from her sexually abusive father, only to end up with a sexually abusive lover who had promised to marry her.
Soon after, she said, the man locked her up, drugged her, and gang-raped her with three other men. Abita remained captive for two weeks until the police found her and returned her to the home from which she had tried to escape. In her report to the police, Abita disclosed that she knew one of the perpetrators. The Police arrested her and sent her to the national women’s prison on charges of engaging in sexual relations outside marriage. “I asked them, ‘Why? What did I do?’,” Abita said. “They told me to keep quiet and not to ask questions.”
Amongst the heinous and highly debasing sexual offenses, the form that irritates the masses the most is the prevailing rape culture in Africa. The number keeps growing as people are being raped in thousands and prosecuted in dozens.
Rape has to be the most abasing, demeaning, degrading and dehumanizing act that can be done to any human being. As far as i’m concerned it’s a form of torture, violently forcing oneself on a non consenting party because she ‘deserved it’ ‘she had it coming’ or ‘because of how she dressed’ annihilating her right to freedom of expression, not to mention societies ‘when she says no she really means yes’ policy recklessly disabling decent morals that should have been engraved in the skulls of men.
Note: I know rape isn’t only experienced by women, men get raped too [frequently if I may add]. I chose to focus on women because female victims of rape are more susceptible to it’s demerits anyhow you see it.
It is extremely difficult for rape victims to achieve justice in most african countries based on various reasons like the parameters set by the different legal systems, the intricate nature of trials, the unwillingness of victims to speak up, the psychological trauma, coupled with the attitude of law enforcement agencies have made matters even more complex.
Let’s start from the core of the problem obtaining consent. Consent is important in almost every human interaction, from payments to the most basic preferences. Talking about the role of consent in our daily lives cannot be explicated enough. If consent is not given it amounts to rape so when is consent given? Consent is given, if a person agrees by CHOICE to be penetrated orally, vaginally or anally, of which can be retracted at any point in time within the engagement [before and during]. Meaning ‘NO is NO’ so don’t misinterpret the lack of movement or struggle for consent after she has said no.
The summer before her final year, an acquaintance invited this girl to watch a movie in his room on campus. He had a girlfriend, so she didn’t think anything sexual would happen. But as the movie wore on, he started kissing her and she felt uncomfortable. “It got to the part where he tried to take off my clothes,“ I was like, ‘No, please stop.’ He was like, ‘No, you’ll like it.’ Some people are able to yell or scream, but when I get really stressed out I kind of shut down, so I just sort of disassociated myself and was trying to figure out how to get him off of me’, she said. As he began to rape her, she asked whether he would get a condom, and he let go immediately she said ‘I told you I did not want your penis in my vagina, and that’s what happened, is that not rape?’ ” She didn’t report the incident because her mother worried that it would be more stressful to go through that process than to leave it alone. One of the reasons rape cases don’t get solved.
Consent is necessary instantly changing the situation from intimate sex to rape in seconds. Plus if you’re taking advantage of a person at a point where she had no capacity to consent [like when she’s drunk, drugged or unconscious], taking advantage of with developmental disabilities, Influencers threatening to misuse power for favors or blackmail [like our lecturers and the men who cannot be named] more-so the kids who really don’t know what’s right from wrong, it’s all just rape and rapey vibes.
Rape trials are never fair on women and claims are seldom taken seriously when reported, dismissing cases based on malice, delusion or lack of substance.Especially when cases are reported to law enforcement agents who lack the training required to handle rape cases instead they go on saying she’s falsely accusing the rapist because she doesn’t this and that – there are cases when there are false accusations no doubt but this shouldn’t change the attitude or the seriousness that should be accorded to the cases.
For instance, in this case, the accused was charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm and participating in a sexual assault involving one or more. The judge said he did not believe portions of the complainant’s testimony and concluded the charges had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, saying “the complainant was selective in how she presented the evidence of her conduct throughout the evening” further saying “she maximized the evidence which supported her narrative and minimized any events that might be inconsistent with her narrative“. The woman and a friend who met the men through Tinder had testified that she fell unconscious while lying in bed, and later woke face down and naked felt someone must have sexually assaulted her. The judge did not accept the testimony that she lost consciousness, noting she had not consumed enough alcohol or other substances or had medical proof of it.
‘It’s impossible to know where the truth begins and ends in this matter. Obviously something of a sexual nature occurred in that room. Maybe it was a criminal offence, maybe it was not. But without credible evidence, it is unsafe to convict.’ he said.
The truth is even when the court believes the victims story to be true there still is one legal lacuna or the other that nullifies it. Victims aren’t willing to talk because of the trauma and stigmatization attached to surviving, with the court and society victim blaming concluding based on character, sexual history, style, devaluing her in the communities eyes. A fourteen year old girl went to a house party and got gang raped. People will not look at the fact that she got raped rather they will focus on how the underage girl got into the party.
Hours of therapy cannot fix the trauma rape victims face. It affects her way of life, truncating relationships between her and the world disabling her from trusting and loving, blurring basic emotions that should be felt, expressed and embraced.
We need to acknowledge that women are in danger instead of society looking for comfort by denying the problems faced by rape survivors concluding that the victim must be lying, or exaggerating her experience.
Rather than seeing rape as an aberration and rapists as a small group of sick individuals, examine the factors in our society that make us tolerant of rape. Rapists are not marked by any obvious character traits or appearance, nor are they of a particular class or race, but are often merely physical manifestations of a generalized tolerance for violence against women.
Below are certain ways we can help curb the epidemic;
Encourage Victims to Speak Up. Instead of stigmatizing and blaming victims encourage them to speak about their experience by creating safe spaces and policies in schools,offices and communities.
Teach Your Children About Consent, Especially Young Boys. Recognizing that sexual violence will not end until men become part of the solution will go a long way in curbing the vice.Teaching them not to use alcohol and or drugs to get someone to have sex with them.
Call Out The Problem. We need to be more vocal about rape around us utilizing media platforms by discussing the obvious objectification of women in film, music, advertising and other platforms. Teaching everyone around us about the myths and realities of sexual violence.
Victim blaming and slut shaming. Stop criticizing women for getting raped because of how they were dressed,where they go or how late they stay out. understanding that women are allowed to express themselves and are therefore not objects for sexual desire.
Challenging Conventional Definitions of Masculinity.Tackling toxic machismo and misogyny within the community can help reduce the chances of rape. Addressing stereotypical statements, like saying ‘women don’t have a voice and as such should not be accorded certain benefits’ should be discouraged.
Support Organizations That Fight Rape. Support women and men and organizations working to end sexual violence by volunteering your time, donating money, and/or lobbying legislators.