On Rape – A Letter To The Men
And by ‘men’ I’m referring to the male species exclusively.
You know, the third-leg-carrying specie, the one for who it is most acceptable for to have hair on his face – the usually beer-guzzling viewing-centre-arguing video-game-thumping…
You get the point.
Yes; man. This one is for us by us. And it gives me the utmost shame to inform you that we have failed.
We. Have. Failed.
I was online several weeks ago – and I saw some hashtag thing all over the place. It didn’t take too long to find out what was behind it. Turns out that a group of people came together to raise funds to give women self-defense classes to protect them from rape.
Okay. Hold up.
For a man born, raised and bred in Africa, I have the understanding that the male is the protector of the female – at least physically. Maybe today we have independent women who don’t need men or whatever (more on that later), the basic understanding I have is the man is the head of the home. That doesn’t make him superior to the woman, it just gives him the responsibility of direction. Of stability. And protection.
At least, that’s what I understand and believe.
And a lot of us secretly harbor resentment for a woman who thinks she is our equal. The only reason we have ‘accepted’ this gender equality thing is because it’s popular – but how many of us are actually comfortable marrying a woman who isn’t ready to ‘bow and scrape’ before us? How many of us can marry a woman who will not stay at home to care for the kids – a woman who probably earns more than we do – a woman who will not be ‘controlled’?
Would our ‘African’ male ego accept that?
So – is it not a slap in the face when the women have to take self-defense classes, not because they want to, but because they need protection from US? The ‘men’ who are supposed to be their champion/defender/protector/knight (even if said armor is rusty in too many places)?
And maybe that’s not exactly a solution – I’m referring to the self-defense classes thing – because not only does it still make it look like it’s the women’s fault they get raped, what if after self-defense classes they meet a rapist who is stronger and better trained than they are?
Guys, let’s take a moment to reflect on that.
Statistics according to RAINN show that 2/3 rapes are perpetrated by someone known to the victim. To quote;
Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.1
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.1
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.1
28% are an intimate.1
7% are a relative.1
- S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.
Even though this data was not gathered in Nigeria, it isn’t too far from the truth.
Men, when did we become like this?
Shebi you’ve seen October 1? The most recent of Kunle Afolayan’s movies?
Remember the near-climactic scene – in which the villain has pinned down the leading lady and is ripping her clothes off – and she says “You would forcefully take that which I would willingly give you?”
And even if she doesn’t want to give you – should she not have the right to decide who or what gets access to her body?
After all, it’s her body isn’t it?
I know some parts of this letter would be me repeating myself – after all it was only six months ago in April I wrote something on this issue – but the truth of the matter is; we’re not talking enough. We’re not doing enough.
I was at the police station (Area F to be specific) about two years ago, to sort out a friend who had gotten into a spot of trouble. While waiting for his CO, I noticed two policemen; one male the other female, bantering with a pretty young girl. I really wasn’t listening – but after a while I couldn’t help but hear what they were saying and it made my head hurt.
Apparently, girl had gone to her friend’s house and met the friend’s boyfriend at home. One thing led to another (as they usually do) and friend’s boyfriend had forced her to sleep with him.
I don’t remember the story blow for blow but that was the gist.
But that wasn’t what I found bothersome. That wasn’t what gave me the headache.
What got to me were the responses of the policemen – especially the female officer.
“How e take rape u? No be ya leg u carry waka go dere? E tie your hand? Abegi! Na so una dey do – maybe de guy do finish e no settle u na im u vex!”
I couldn’t believe my ears. This was another woman talking.
After a while though – they finally took a statement from her and agreed to follow her to the guy…
After a while.
Why this apathy when it comes to rape? Why are people so indifferent to this heinous crime?
Men – why do we rape?
Why do we rape?
Is that how your – how our fathers did our mothers; so we’ve come to think it’s normal? Do we have sisters who come home weeping, talking about how their boyfriend/husband/boss (the various roles we play in other women’s lives) forced himself on them – and we laugh and pat her on the back and say ‘that’s normal na! Why are you crying? Kini big deal?’
Kini big deal – about rape – really?!
Guys, how is it a woman’s fault that she got raped?
If we’re talking indecent dressing, why aren’t the Allen Avenue evening ladies getting raped regularly? How about the rag-wearing mad woman?
If we’re talking ‘because she came to our house’, since when did trust become a crime?
If we’re talking because we spent money on her, then we should also rape our mums, we shouldn’t have any female friends – and that woman who brings her kids to our car window to beg should be the next victim.
We should be ashamed of ourselves o – we really should be.
I mean, if we say we’re superior to women, then we should be their protectors and champions – not the ones they need protecting from. We should protect their rights to choose – the exact same way we would protect children and animals.
And if we say we are equal and the same with them – they should be able to decide what they want and don’t want, and we should be able to respect that.
So what is the problem? Guys, can we have a conversation?
Can we realize it’s in no way a woman’s fault a man decides to act beastly? Do we understand that because we are not taking up the mantle to speak and defend our women is why they are taking it upon themselves to protect themselves? Shall we agree that no excuse is good enough – and that the only person whose fault it is in a rape situation is the rapist?
I mean, we should consider the fact that there are yet several of us who see women dressing in some very provocative manner – and the fact that not all men are rapists puts paid to the generalization that the victim did something to provoke that reaction.
Men, let us be responsible. Let us do the needful – and be responsible men, fathers, brothers, cousins, nephews, friends – magas; even!
Let us protect the woman. The girl-child.
From ourselves, if need be.
I hope this letter makes some sort of sense to us – and even more than that – I hope it provokes a certain kind of response. I hope it makes us speak. I hope it makes us think.
More importantly, I hope it makes us do something positive concerning this rape thing.