Rape and Sexual Assault – Opinion

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By Adesokan Timisola Precious

As there has been an influx in the coverage of news of rape and sexual assault in the country, people have been scrambling to give their own opinions on the reason for the increase. Some people of course went with the victim blaming narrative, while some other people started the discussion about rape culture and how it should be dismantled.

The very entire Nigerian culture is founded by patriarchy and strongly upheld by misogyny, you can find proof of that in our culture & tradition,choice of leaders,our music, movies & drama,our religions, yes our religions. The root of the Nigerian culture is designed with misogyny and a strong need to make sure women’s bodies are not theirs. We make excuses for rapists and most times, a lot of us are rape apologists. We have a strong culture of blaming victims and putting the responsibility of men’s sexuality on women.

Contrary to popular opinion that rape is a crime of violence, rape is a crime of consent and lack of respect for the autonomy of people’s bodies (especially women). Which is why a lot of people don’t believe in marital rape. If you ask the average Nigerian about rape, they will mostly give an answer that gives you an image “where the victim is scantily dressed in a place where they (mostly she) is not supposed to be,thereby putting the blame on the victim. If you ask the average Nigerian, “what can we do to reduce rape cases?”, their answers will mostly be along the lines of “Dress decently, or dress the way you want to be addressed.” They have not only blamed the victim, but reduced it to giving off the intention that those that are not dressed “decently” deserve to be assaulted. Nigerians in general have myopic views, they forget the idea of dressing “decently” is subjective to people and their way of lives and culture. A skimpy dress is not consent to sex or sexual harassment. We have built a culture where men are entitled to women’s bodies. That is why we see nothing done to men who grope women in markets or any place in general. The blame is always somehow placed on the women. A lot of people might say, “They are ignorant, they don’t understand consent.” But trust me, they understand consent.

If you want proof, watch the reaction of Nigerian men when other men grab them or grope them. An average Nigerian person might say, “Don’t get drunk if you don’t want to be assaulted.”

But I need people to note that the only valid punishment for being drunk is a hangover. A drunk person cannot consent. An average Nigerian might say, “To prevent rape, protect yourselves, buy pepper sprays, tasers, etc.” But I think the 80+ girls raped in this recent lockdown in Anambra state will tell you differently. Were they supposed to get those things against their fathers, brothers, uncles, etc. Were they supposed to feel afraid in their own homes. You tell me. An average Nigerian will say, “if you want to prevent rape, don’t go out at night, don’t go to parties, etc.” But the story of Uwaila Vera Omozuwa will tell you that neither the place nor the time is the cause of rape, just rapists.

When women say, “men are trash”, they are not saying all men in the world are trash, but the system that has protected them; the patriarchy that has enabled them, the rapists, their apologists are all trash. Are women supposed to be punished for being women? Are women or victims in general expected to be ashamed of their bodies? Are women supposed to fear for which one of them is next? Is sexual assault and rape expected to remain normal? Where is our humanity?

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