THE SAD THING ABOUT RAPE

MUMBAI: Over a fortnight ago a 15-year-old girl was gang-raped by her friend and three of his friends.

NIGERIA: Policeman 32, rapes JSS 1 virgin girl.

“Was I raped? He was my boyfriend at the time.”

“I was drunk. Does that mean I wasn’t raped?”

“They say it’s my fault. They said I asked for it. I asked for him to rape me.”

“She was just a baby. Did she ask for rape too?”

“She called them a ‘rape’ brigade yet she went back.”

I could go on and on. But what’s the point?

 Rape

Forget about the title of this post. Rape, in itself, is a sad thing. I mean, it’s saddening that even through pleas of “NO! Please don’t!” or through the slurred words of someone who is intoxicated or the worst of all, the silence of a child, some people still choose to stick it into the victim.

I wrote this post months ago but something just didn’t feel good with it. It felt incomplete. It just didn’t sit write. It lacked the emotions passing through me as my hands hovered over my keyboard. So I left it. And then today, Sugabelly’s rape story came up again…the whole story… and I was back to feeling that typa way I felt when I started this post again. So here goes.

I apologise in advance that I might sound angry in this post. I’m not saying I would but I could. This is a heart breaking issue and yes, I do know that I could edit and take out the parts where I come across as angry but then I wouldn’t really be speaking my mind. That’s the point of this post, isn’t it? I digress.

I find it really heart breaking that every single day you see or hear one story about someone who raped someone or attempted to rape someone. It gets even more annoying when you find out the victim is a child. Don’t get me wrong. Raping an adult is in no way acceptable. It’s despicable.  But the thought of penetrating into a child? Or inserting objects into that child? That is downright disgusting.

I was saying rape in itself is a sad thing. The physical and emotional trauma the victim has to go through during the act… the psychological trauma that comes with it and with making the decision of whether or not to tell people…the even greater trauma that comes with people either not believing you or at worst blaming you for being raped. What part is not saddening?

One sad thing about rape is there is almost always an excuse for the rapist.

He was drunk.

 Why did she dress in such a provocative manner?

Why would she walk through that place alone…abeg she was asking for it jare!

 There has to be an explanation …have you asked the person that they said raped her what happened?

 She came on to him.

Ahnahn! How can they rape a man? It is not possible.

Why did she keep going back. Once is rape, twice is not.

Or another favourite of people in our part of the world, He was possessed by an evil spirit.

I mean, really, the extent we’d go to make excuses for a wrong. Evil spirit? Really?

What is wrong is wrong. Rape is rape. There are no two ways to describe it. And the more excuses you make for these monsters, the more you continue to rape these victims. Yes, by making excuses for the rapist, you are yourself doing the exact same thing he/she did to the victim. Imagine the hurt this person is going through and imagine how that person feels when you treat the hurt like a pinch of salt.

And like that is not bad enough, some of the victims get faulted for not coming out to say earlier. Sometime back, someone was saying something along the lines of “How come those women are just coming out to say Bill Cosby raped them? I smell a rat. It’s all a lie jo.” I’m not saying Bill Cosby raped them or didn’t. All I’m saying is do not conclude the story is false because it took years to talk about it.

VC

Why do we end up blaming the victims? How do we even get to that point? Someone just told you his/her life has been ripped apart because one person decided to satisfy his urges forcefully and the first thing that comes to mind is to blame the person?

A six year old girl went visiting her friend. Her friend’s older cousin who was at the house said he wanted to talk to the “big girls” around in the room. The innocent six year old was the first up. It surprised her that this cousin of her friend’s needed her to lie on the bed and pull off her cloth to talk to her. It was weird that he needed to draw the curtains to talk to her or even shut the door. And then he said again, “Lie on the bed.” Her mother had before now told her about this kinds of things not minding her age. Her mother always made her sit and watch ‘Nkan Nbe’.So she knew what this was. She could tell. She wondered in the slit of a send if her friend had gone through this ordeal too.

She was lucky that day. The door to the room was not stuck as usual. So she ran. As fast as her small, chubby legs could carry her. As fast as she could to avoid this terror. He came chasing after her. But she was lucky. She was one of the few who managed to get away.

She was quiet about it. Didn’t say a word. Until she couldn’t take it anymore. So she told her friend’s teacher who in turn told the friend’s mother. Lo and behold! She was flogged with a belt for reasons her six year old brain couldn’t really understand. Had she been wrong to tell?

 She thought she had escaped for good. If only she knew that another was yet to come from someone else and it would only tke the grace of God to be free this time. This memory haunted her for years but unlike the first time, she decided to take it with her to her grave for fear of another beating. It after all just almost happened. It didn’t really happen.

If only she knew that almost counted this time and that it would scar her for life.

That is just one out of the million that go through what is called ‘victim blaming’. Here’s the thing guys, it is one thing to live through the ordeals of rape (the act of it), it’s another ball game entirely to decide to tell someone, anyone about it. People differ and the ways we deal with our issues differ as well. The fact that I decide to tell people that I was raped does not mean my twin would do same. So before you judge a person of not coming out with the details earlier, think again and think of how hard it was to eventually decide to tell.

It takes a lot to deal with the fact that you have been abused or raped. It takes a lot more to live with it. People are scared for life just because of a 5 minute forceful shag. People commit suicide because of rape. Some people can never, ever, see themselves as sexual beings because of one monster (or a couple of monsters). They withdraw from everybody and everything and end up loners. They need love and support. Not blames.

It was Sugabelly some years back…it could be your sister or mother or best friend tomorrow. It could be your brother, your best friend, or your husband tomorrow. This has to end and it has to end soon. It takes a really strong person to voice out in spite of all the hurt. The last thing that person needs to hear is that he/she is being blamed for falling victim.

I should not be scared to dress as I please because someone out there is waiting to prey on me. I should not be scared that my father’s friend or a close relative or my teacher would forcefully sleep with me and get away with it too. I should not be scared that when I do decide to tell what happened, no one would believe me and I could get blamed.

No one should suffer through this pain and not be assured that whoever committed this atrocity would not pay.

Help these victims. Be the listening ear they need. Be the shoulder they need to cry on. Be the one who’d help them bring the monster to book. And by all means, help prevent that monster from committing the crime again with someone else.

Enough of the excuses. Enough of the victim blaming. Until we stand together to put an end to rape, until our voices can rise above all other noise and speak against this evil, until we decide to fight this together, many more shall fall victim and many more shall go scot free.

What society would you rather be a part of?

My name is Ameenah and I stand to end rape.

 

 

 

 

 

photo credits:

https://monalawprecedent.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/article-of-the-week-reform-the-rape-provision-in-the-jamaica-sexual-offences-act/

http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2013/11/rape-culture-created/

bcgavel.com/2014/04/08/social-media-fights-campus-rape-culture/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ON BEING IRRESPONSIBLE: WHY IN THE WORLD DON’T YOU HAVE A CAR AT 26?!

It’s appalling. Totally irresponsible. Downright disgusting. I really don’t have words that can properly describe the way I see this.

“As a guy, not owning a car at 26 is totally irresponsible,” so said (in not exactly the same words) a tweep. To cheers that rang across the sky…to the waiting hands of Nigerian Tweeps who were waiting for the next ‘scandal’ after SugaBelly and the rape story, she was the perfect prey.  The whole of Twitter Nigeria was turned upside down and downside up. Nay, she wasn’t a prey. She put herself out there.

Of course I have a take….and that’s the reason behind this post. (Hi. I tend to do this sometimes. Explain even things I shouldn’t. Endure please.)

So what so I think?

I think that it is totally irresponsible to think that it is irresponsible to not own a car at 26 as a guy. If you are confused, I apologize. Simply put, I see it as very wrong to say that not owning a car by a certain age makes the person irresponsible.

For those who don’t know (and for those who know, a reminder won’t hurt) this is the life of an average Nigerian boy/man:

He leaves secondary school at 18(if he’s lucky 16)…he struggles through JAMB (JAMB is a matriculation exam you have to write to gain admission into the University in Nigeria) for like a year or two to gain admission into a University. (If he’s lucky he doesn’t miss any year and gains admission straight up). He gets into school and starts counting four to five years to finish and that is not even putting into consideration the fact that ASUU can mess up at any time. By now he’s 21(if you’re lucky) or maybe 25 because shit happens.

Not everyone is lucky with a job these days and he isn’t one of those lucky few who start their own venture. He goes through series and series of job tests but gets no jobs. How can he when even Ph.D Holders now apply for a driving position with Dangote? He accepts his fate and goes for Masters.

By now, he is 23 or 26. But even the Masters guarantees nothing. He’d be lucky to get a job straight up.

So how in the world can this poor gentleman own a car at 26? Yahoo maybe? He might not be one of those lucky few who are offered 100k and accommodation on the side to do a job that has a little bit of blowing in its job description.

Not everyone has it lucky. So to call young men who don’t have a car at 26 irresponsible is totally uncalled for.  Let’s look at it this way; different people have different priorities.

Some care nothing for the luxurious life of a car owner but instead care about how luxurious their future would be. To this end, they find it better to invest in landed properties or other investments than acquiring a car.

While we are at it, why is it not irresponsible of a woman at 26 not to own her own car? Why is it not irresponsible for a woman at 26 to have a job of her own? Why is it not irresponsible of a woman at 26 to be a liability?

Look down not on a man in a jalopy car. He might be the owner of houses or even business totalling millions.

Judge a man not by his ability (or inability) to own a car. There are a million and one other yardsticks to judge a man’s “responsibility” by.

 

 

 

THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY. 1

 

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these; “it might have been”.  Maud Muller- John Greenleaf Whittier (1856)

“I swear I could slap you right now, Bayo. I’m telling you about something really serious and it seems like a joke to you, eh?” Ada said, laughing.

I love her laugh, this one. There is something about it…her laughter and then the way her lips curved and formed into the most enchanting smile I have ever seen whenever she decides to bestow us with that smile.

Ada, my friend, my companion my confidante. Looking back, I am more than grateful to whatever spirits that reside in the heavens for bringing her my way. Two years of this friendship and I wake up every day wondering how those two years would have been without her in my life.

To be honest, I probably… scratch that… most definitely would not have felt a difference. I wouldn’t have known her so there would be no way to know what I would have been missing out on. Knowing her, however, I can see what it might have been and I am more than glad.

Nne, ma binu. Sho gbo? Omo ti adiye ba ku ata la nlo.” I say to her.

“See why I don’t like you? I have told you countless times not to speak Yoruba to me. ”

“It beats me that after three years in Ibadan you still don’t understand bits and pieces of Yoruba. How can? You suppose dey cover your face.”

“Whatever. Just stop.”

O wa lara e.” She rolls those come-and-do-eyes at me and I could swear my heart stopped. This girl would be the end of me. “All I said just means, ‘no vex. You’re the child that when the fowl dies, we grind pepper for.  E dey your body.”

“Mtcheww. People would see you in a formal setting and think no one else can speak English. That was a terrible attempt at interpreting what you said in Yoruba.”

“See I can’t kill myself. This is home. I can speak whatever English elsewhere.”

“Na you sabi. But really…do you see me going back to school? I’m too old for that shit. Medicine for that matter o.”

“Oh please. You’re just 23.”

“23 is old enough to be free from your father’s clutches.” She says and I can feel her pain. My heart cries the way hers are crying…is weary the way hers are…I can see the tears welling up in her eyes. The signature swallow when she is about to cry but doesn’t want to…much like she is swallowing the tears.

“Then stay.” I urge. I can’t bring myself to tell her what I actually want to. Stay because I have somehow fallen in love with you. Stay because I know now that I can’t stand being away from you. Stay because I want to be more than just your ‘really good friend’.

None of those words leave my lips. I can’t make them. How can I when I don’t know for a fact that she feels the same way. How can I when I risk losing our friendship because I crossed the line. How? It is hard to ask a girl you have become so close to out. You are afraid of a lot…especially messing it all up.

I open my mouth and shut it again. She speaks in my stead. “I have to get going now. I have to leave very early tomorroww and I haven’t even packed.” She said and got off the side of the low fence she was sitting.

“Do you have to?”

“You talk as though you don’t know.”

It hits me then. This is it. She is actually leaving. For good. Leaving everything behind…living the life her father had planned out for her. And I have no place in that life.

See, this one’s destiny had already been made. She had derailed a bit but her father was drawing her back to The Plan. The Plan was simple; grow up, go to medical school, practice medicine and the new inclusion in the plan- marry that son of Chief Osondu that works with that big oil company.

Who is she to refuse? Who am I, a hustling Yoruba boy, to tell her to do otherwise?

So as she gets off the fence I do too. As she crosses to the other side of the road to her car, I do too. I hold her hands until we both cannot take it any more.

“I’ll call you before you leave tomorrow.” I say to her.

“I’ll call you when I get to Abuja. Don’t worry, we’ll talk every day. It would be as though I never left. You haven’t lost your best friend yet. Trust me you and I are a forever something.” she said with a sad smile. “Now go back. I want the last memory I have of you to be you sitting on that spot of ours smiling back at me.”

I do

I go back… and sit…and smile.

She doesn’t leave…she stays…and watches me.

I decide there and then. I can’t let this one go. I am not strong enough to tell the tale of the one that got away. I need to think this through. It is better to be sure she doesn’t feel the same than wonder if she did as I watch her say ‘I do’ to that other man her father endorsed.

My watch ticks…1…2… I have to tell her.

3…4…I get off and see she’s getting out of the car and walking…crying and walking towards me.

  1. I hear it before I see it.

The sound of metal connecting with bone. The half-man, half-animal cry of pain. The screeching of tires against the tarred floor and the revving of the car. He came from nowhere and now he is nowhere. The shouts of “Ha! Ikunle abiyamo o,” from those who saw it happen

My Ada is crumpled on the floor, gasping for air. She is crying still.

I rush to her and try to get her of the floor. My hands are wet and red with her blood. My eyes are wet with tears. Why did she come back? Why didn’t I try to stop her from leaving in the first place? Why didn’t I decide five seconds earlier?

“I love you” were her last words to me. Her last words to anyone. My Ada left me that day. She left me for good.

She said it would be as though she never left. She said I hadn’t lost my best friend….yet.

Yet, she said.

But I lost her. I lost her on the same day she promised we would be forever.