The first time someone attempted to rape me, I was wearing a green, unfitted, high-necked, long-sleeved top. The skirt was made of the same material, a double-layered skirt that almost reached my ankle. I had no make-up done and my semi-relaxed hair was tied to the back with a rubber band. It was my first year at the University and I was a conservative Christian girl. The guy who attempted to rape me was a straight A’s student, from a very religious middle class family. I escaped unhurt.
The second time someone attempted to rape me, I was wearing a white and green, unfitted, collared long-sleeved top, with a thin belt made of the same material tied around my waist. The skirt was black, flowing and ended somewhere between my knee and my ankle. I had white powder on my face and lip balm on my lips and my braids were tied to the back with a ruffle. It was during my NYSC and I was still a conservative Christian girl. The guy who tried to rape me was a friend, one of the closest friends I have ever had; his sister was also a close friend. I escaped unhurt.
Escaping both is one of the greatest miracles of my life, I know people who were not that lucky. My friend Oni* had not even started to grow breasts when she was sexually abused by her uncle, she was just a preteen. Bisi* wasn’t out partying and drinking when she was cornered by some young men; she had gone to pick her school fees and was on her way back. Mama Uche* was resting after a hard day at work when a rapist barged into her house.
Rape knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter what you wear, who you are, where you are or what you look like. From an old menopausal woman to a young child who is still learning how to walk, this horrible crime happens to women of all ages and lifestyles. Rapist can attempt to or actually attack anyone.
At the International Association of Women Judges conference held in Abuja recently with the theme “Sextortion”, the Attorney General of Katsina State, Ibrahim Dan-Soho was quoted as saying ‘’ Rape is self inflicted in at least 90% of cases”, he then went on to talk about how women cause rape by the way they dress.
That breaks my heart. Not only because it is coming from an Attorney General who should know better but because that is what many people believe as well. Many women, men, politicians and even religious leaders dismiss rape with their “she asked for it” comments and attitudes, while the criminals walk away free.
If a man rob you of your car because you parked it on the road, will you blame yourself for tempting the man or will you get the man arrested for stealing? Whether your car is displayed on the road or not, whether it tempted him or not, it is a crime to take what doesn’t belong to him. Whether the woman exposed her cleavage or not, whether she was out partying or at home sleeping, whether she is your girlfriend or not, it is a crime to rape!
When are we going to start seeing rape as the horrible crime that it is, instead of trying to escape dealing with it by putting the blame on the victims?
Rape is never the survivor’s fault. Dr Laura Berman, puts it so well, “The idea that women deserve to be raped because they dress or behave “provocatively” shifts responsibility away from the offender and on to the victim”. Rapists will keep walking away free until we stop putting blames on the victims and start going after these criminals.
Here are some of the myths by Dr. Laura Berman that we need to let go about rape in other to make sound progress in fighting this crime
Myth: Women “ask for it.”
Fact: Nobody ever wants or asks to be sexually assaulted. The idea that women deserve to be raped because they dress or behave “provocatively” shifts responsibility away from the offender and on to the victim. Every woman should have the liberty to dress and behave as she chooses without fearing that she is inviting sexual assault.
Myth: Rape is committed only by strangers or crazed psychopaths who exist on the margins of society.
Fact: In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control reported that eight out of ten rape or sexual-assault victims not only knew the offender but stated that the crime was perpetrated by a boyfriend or girlfriend, relative, friend, or acquaintance. The overwhelming majority of rapists are seemingly normal people from a wide range of socioeconomic classes, occupations, and nationalities.
Myth: Attractive young women are really the only group that need to worry about rape.
Fact: From an old, frail man in a nursing home to a young child, from a sophisticated urban apartment dweller to an impoverished rural resident, this traumatic and terrible crime happens to people from every demographic. Rape doesn’t discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, or income.
Myth: Rape is an impulsive act.
Fact: These crimes are not spontaneous, uncontrollable sexual acts. As many as 75 percent of all sexual assaults are planned in advance, often with the victim being targeted and monitored by the assailant.
Myth: Women who drink or take drugs often have a role in the rape.
Fact: We live in a culture that tends to blame victims, but rape is never the survivor’s fault. No one deserves to have been raped or invites sexual assault, even if the person has drunk to excess or exhibited bad judgment.
* Not their real names
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