Each Tuesday at work, according to a roaster, it fell upon a member of staff to deliver moral instructions to the staff community, a talk that lasted over 30 minutes before the day’s transaction commenced. At the end of each talk, the floor would be open for contributions. Often times we had lively arguments seeing that religious perspectives are quite subjective.
One Tuesday morning as the moderator was pelting out his sermon, those who listened nodded while those who got preoccupied with their phones had their heads bent as they clicked away. His topic was on honouring God. At the end of his speech, one of us gave a contribution. The contributor had been to a chemist shop where a rape victim came to be helped of her ordeal. The girl said it happened the other night on a lonely path where the rapist had attacked her.
But rather than offer sympathy, the chemist(who was female), told the victim that if she(the chemist) had seen the perpetrator , she would have given him a hand shake for a job well done. “How can you possibly dress like this and not get raped?” the chemist had asked the victim. The contributor gave the story in way to show the consequences that befell ladies who do not honour the Lord with their bodies.
But I, knowing the things I know, could not let this slide without a need for redressment. I could not keep silent. I gave my rejoinder with great feeling: That rape was in no way excuseable, and in that way an argument ensued.
I did not join in the argument, nor back up what I said. Verbal battles have never been my forté. But I felt bad at some sickening ideologies that were being unravelled that day:
-Fully clothed women never get raped.
– If you were raped, somehow you called for it.
-What is a woman doing outside in the night?
-Rape happens to only indecently dressed women.
And I remembered Caro.
I came across the eye-catching “Caro made me do it” meme on a tee shirt designed by Allen and Fifth, an urban lifestyle brand that draws its inspiration from Afro Pop culture. Who doesn’t know Caro? Ofcourse you must have seen her: the lady with that ample and “necessary” derriere in the music video of the titular song by L.A.X, Starboy and Wizkid.
So, I thought, if Caro walked past a man at night in a poorly lit corner, it becomes excuseable to by-force her? and at the sight of buttocks that roll like talking drums, men ought to cast their restraint to the wind and punish her Glutus maximus for daring to swing?
For this blame game and stigma attached to rape, it remains the most underreported assaults of humanity, where its victims wither away in shame.
One of my best movies of all times remains Tyler Perry’s For Coloured Girls, a screen adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem. Anika Noni Rose plays a rape victim and her trauma was so tangible you could feel it on your own skin as she narrates her ordeal :
A rapist doesn’t have to be a stranger to be legitimate. Someone you never saw. A man with obvious problems. But if you been public with him, danced one dance, kissed him goodbye lightly with a closed mouth, pressing charges will be as hard as keeping your legs closed while five fools try and run a train on you. These men friends of ours, who smile nicely, take you out to dinner, then lock the door behind you…”
Statistics have shown that rape by familiar people occurs more frequently than rape by strangers. Herein explains the silence of many victims. How do you tell your mummy that the neighbour who helped you kill snake in your house on Saturday pulled you to a corner on Sunday and forced his thing in you? How do you tell her that her boyfriend creeps into your room at night and touches you in ways you cannot explain?
But isn’t it high time we forced this unlearning process down society’s throat; drag the reluctant feet of old ideologies to new schools of thought for proper re-education:
-A certain outfit does not mean a woman is giving sexual consent
-Some derrieres or, preferably, buttocks, just are ample and “necessary ” and should only be admired from a distance. Their sizes do not entitle you to touch them or force them to a corner for punishment.
-A rapist does not care if one is draped in purdah or in see-through lingerie.
-Rape, just as genocide and other inhumane crimes is not excuseable.
– When a woman says “No”, she means “No”.
And lastly, women are not the only victims of rape. My heart goes out to little boys whose bodies have been invaded by adults who were given charge over them: those little boys touched lewdly by drunk uncles or randy aunties. Forget he brags about it over bottles of drinks in the club with his friends, about how he got laid before he could even say the word “Arithmetics”. First sexual encounters ought not have happened that way.
For everyone who has ever been sexually assaulted: your silent body did not make then do it. It is not your fault. You fell into the hands of someone who overpowered you and had his/ her way on you.
May your healing come gently but surely.
Image Source: www.cnn.com