Shame the rapist, not the victim

Shame the rapist, not the victim

Stop making excuses to justify rape. Rape is not the victim’s fault, neither is rape an accident or a mistake. It is a specific choice of a rapist to rape.

Amaka Nicholas

I was barely 13-years-old but was quite big for my age. It was one of those days my dad didn’t come to pick us after school and I refused to take a bike because I was saving to pay for my Complete Football magazine subscription.

My parents knew I was a soccer freak and they sometimes makeup whatever I have to buy the magazine. While walking home, it started raining heavily. People were scampering for cover and I also took cover somewhere.

In front of the house I took cover was a shop, the rain got breezy and was pouring down heavily. I was getting drenched where I stood and the young man who owned the shop asked me to come into his shop until the rain subsided. I did and thanked him for letting me in.

The rain was pouring, the wind wasn’t helping matters, and it was entering his shop that he had to shut the door. I wasn’t afraid in any way, but the strangest thing happened.

I got a strong push that landed me on the floor. Before I knew what was happening, someone was struggling to rip off my underwear.

I have never struggled for my life like I did that day. I fought him with every strength I had in me. Meanwhile, he was already naked. All my screams and pleas fell on deaf ears and because the rain was pouring heavily outside, no one could hear me.

He was fully erect while this struggle was going on and I was getting tired by the seconds. I was beginning to lose strength, because he was stronger than I was.

At a point, I noticed he stopped abruptly and was almost jerking and making a horrible sound, spilling some sticky stuff on my thighs.

I pushed him off my body immediately, ran out of his shop like I was still being chased and I proceeded home in that heavy rain.

I was traumatised by that experience. Even though I got sick from the rain beating me, it was better than getting raped. I didn’t tell anyone about what happened, although I was really close to my parents. I became more careful with men including the good and kind ones.

This was my first near-rape case. A lot of people have their own stories. Some even went through worst and traumatizing experiences because some men feel they are entitled to sleep with women who aren’t interested in having sex with them.

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I wasn’t able to speak up when this man tried to rape me for reasons I can’t explain till date, but if today I decide to call him out for his near-evil deed many years ago, society will ask me why now?

They will sing about how he is a good man and I’m just a scorned woman looking for whom to destroy. They will remind me that he actually didn’t rape me because almost doesn’t count. Pastors, family members, friends and the law enforcement agencies will wade in preaching forgiveness and demanding that I forget also. They will remind me that he is no longer the same person he was years ago.

The issue is not about getting raped, it’s about how the society will shame, make excuses, belittle, blame victims, and even justify why the victim got raped. Yet, the same society will show no empathy whatsoever for the victim. As rape enablers, we excuse, normalize, justify, ignore, and protect rapists and continue to give them license to rape. With our actions, we continue enabling them to keep raping fresh victims.

When we shame and shut down rape victims with excuses like she dressed inappropriately on short skirt or a revealing top, she ‘asked for it and she ‘got what she deserved’, we are empowering rapists.

Women who drink and let their guards down are raped. Women walking on lonely streets at night get raped. Women who visit a man’s house on a first date get raped and people make excuses for these rapists by insinuating these women got what they deserved.

How do these flimsy excuses entitle a man to forcefully have sex with women who are not interested in doing so? How do victims get blamed for a crime that was committed against them and their bodies?

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When we justify rape with such excuses, it means women must sacrifice their freedom, adjust their lifestyles, so they don’t get raped by men without home training. We shame victims by fixating on strategies they should have used to avoid assault. We keep enabling rapists indirectly.

Why must rape be the first thing on a man’s mind when he sees a woman alone on a lonely street? So, raping her is the only punishment suitable for disrespecting him? Something is not just right with such reasoning. Who brought up such irresponsible men?

As we teach our girls to avoid getting raped, we must teach our boys to communicate and act responsibly because men who rape don’t have a clear understanding of how to capture a woman’s attention.

Stop making excuses to justify rape. Rape is not the victim’s fault, neither is rape an accident or a mistake. It is a specific and deliberate choice of a rapist to rape.

It doesn’t matter if the rapist is your father, uncle, neighbour, politician, pastor, imam, or strangers, report and punish offenders appropriately. That is how to keep other people safe from known rapists and other predators.

READ ALSO: When priests turn sexual predators

Shame the rapist, not the victim. Rape is a crime against humanity, stop it!

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