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?
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.
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.