Why men must care and take action against sexual violence.


In more recent years, the idea of rape culture has received much more attention, including from mainstream outlets and social media campaigns led by feminists and initiatives championing the voice of a new generation of women who fearlessly share their stories of sexual violence on social media and other digital platforms, confronting established limits on talking about rape and making sure that perpetrators are brought to book.

The pandemic has also been a golden ticket to open up society’s mucky cans of racial injustice, inequality, LGBTQ+ rights, domestic violence and other deviant issues in today’s world, coupled with recent gruesome happenings in Nigeria; some of which include the death of Vera Uwaila Omozuma, a 22-year-old university student in Edo State, who was recently found dead in a church after being allegedly raped, 18-year-old Jennifer who was allegedly attacked and raped by a gang of five men in a small village in Kaduna state and the arrest of 11 suspects in Jigawa state who allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl.

Around the world, rape and sexual abuse are everyday violent occurrences affecting close to a billion women and girls over their lifetimes. However, despite the pervasiveness of these crimes, laws are insufficient, inconsistent, not systematically enforced and, sometimes, promote violence. By any measure, gender-based violence, including sexual violence, is being inflicted on women and girls in epidemic proportions.

Rape Culture affects every woman. The rape of one woman is a degradation, terror, and limitation to all women. Most women and girls limit their behavior because of the existence of rape. Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not. 

Over the years, perpetrators of rape have continued to enjoy the crime because the our laws protect them and the burden of proof always lie only with the victims. Violence against women is partly the effect and the result of gender inequality, because men believe they have both the right and the power to do what they want: they don’t just see women as property that they can manage and order about, they also see that this is their right as men to do so.

When we talk about victims of rape, we say ‘it could be your mother or sister or daughter’. We rarely say ‘the rapist might be your father or brother or son’. This is subtle normalisation of rape culture and sexual violence against women in our society has also been silently excused in the media and popular culture, which is mostly dominated by men themselves. But now, with the social debate that has been generated, it is time for the institutions to take measures, and for every one of us, men especially, to effect change.

What Men should know

The length of someone’s skirt is not an indication of whether or not they would like to have sex with you. The tightness of clothing is not an indication they would like to have sex with you. Flirting is not an indication that they would like to have sex with you. If a person is not vocally giving you an invitation for sex, they probably aren’t asking for it. If someone is clearly intoxicated, that is not an invitation for sex.

If you have to convince someone to have sex with you, you probably should not be having sex. Sex needs to be consensual for both parties to enjoy. No means No, and even when you’re granted consent, it can be withdrawn at any time and you must respect that.

For the men who think they are more disciplined to always keep it in their pants bu still shame victims, you need to understand that gaming survivors is wrong because the only one responsible for rapes are the rapists themselves. People are often more concerned about what the survivor wore, whether or not they were drinking, or what the survivor told the perpetrator before the rape. 

Victim blaming is an umbrella term that denotes any actions or words that suggest or state that a victim of a crime, in this case of sexual nature — is to blame for what happened to them.

Why should men care about sexual violence?

Men Rape –– males commit the majority of all sexually violent crimes. Even when men are sexually victimised, other men are most often the perpetrators.

Rape also confines men –– when some men rape, and when 80% of those who are raped know the man who attacked them, it becomes difficult to distinguish men who are safe from men who are dangerous, men who can be trusted from men who can’t, men who will rape from men who won’t. The result is a society with its guard up, where relationships with men are approached with fear and mistrust, where intimacy is limited by the constant threat of violence, and where all men are labeled “potential rapists.”

Men Know Survivors –– at some point in every man’s life, someone close to him will likely disclose that they are a survivor of sexual violence and ask for help. Men must be prepared to respond with care, sensitivity, compassion, and understanding. Ignorance on the part of men about the situation of rape and its impact can only hinder the healing process and may even contribute to the survivor’s feeling further victimized. A supportive male presence during a survivor’s recovery, however, can be invaluable.

Men Can Stop Rape –– rape is a choice men make to use sex as a weapon for power and control. For rape to stop, men who are violent must be empowered to make different choices. All men can play a vital role in this process by challenging rape supporting attitudes and behaviors, and by raising awareness about the damaging impact of sexual violence.

We’ve normalised sexual assault against women because it happens so often, but we forget by normalising this, we allow individuals who do this to keep doing this. It contributes to women being objectified, and it contributes to the notion that women are there for a man’s pleasure.

By saying “boys will be boys,” we give men the excuse to act in an unbehaved manner and write it off as typical men’s behavior. Saying this perpetuates what is expected of boys, and that it is okay to be aggressive because it’s “boys will be boys.” You are excusing boys from their aggressive behavior instead of teaching them how to respect those around him. We let his actions go without consequence. Telling girls “he does that because he likes you” tells her that when a man is violent with you, it is because he loves you.

Men have mouths, if they like you, they can express their feelings. Stop telling girls a way boys show affection is through violence. It instills this mindset that if in an abusive relationship, he abuses you because he loves you and he just doesn’t know how to express his emotions. 

Richard Ogundiya

Journalist & Techpreneur. Africa, communications and data.

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