Here in our side of the world, we have demonized everything sexual so much that it blinds us to real issues on the subject. Sadly, this apparent demonization makes it all the more difficult for people to be openly expressive about their sexuality and prevents open discussions on sexual abuse issues, especially rape. Quite sadly, innocent victims who try to speak out about their abuses rather get labelled, or their situation made light of.
Very frankly, there is a general kind of hypocrisy here in our side of the world, of everybody behaving like saints who have never had sex before, talk less of ever being abused sexually or ever coming close to being violated. Our “outwardly religious but inwardly sinful” nature will never allow us to openly make a stand against sexual violence. And that is how we allow it to even take root right in our Churches (the house of God) and yet pretend it is not happening.
Sometimes, it is difficult to place a hand on the real causes of rape especially. However, there is some positive feeling that, perhaps the culture of over sexualization of women which has seen almost every man growing up to see women as sexual objects (for the most part) to be dominated and to be used at will for their satisfaction, could be a major contributory factor. Trust me, even in today’s developed world, if a man and woman should be involved in a sexual abuse issue like rape, the man will simply have the upper hand and one wouldn’t be surprised if no blame at all is given to the man and made to walk free. The man’s power or ability to coerce a woman to have his way with her will be totally overlooked and it will surely be the usual rhetoric of it is the woman who doesn’t know how to keep her legs closed or her breasts covered enough, or doesn’t know how to carry herself modestly enough to avoid being raped, etc.
Yes, women are beautiful and many times could be objects of sexual desire, but that shouldn’t mean that it is okay for men to find women worth raping. Of course, any man would find a woman with all the right curves in the right places very attractive, appealing and desirable, but that obviously must not give any man a justification for birthing the slightest thought of rape.
Sexual objectification of women, as we see even in so many works of art, may contribute somehow to the culture of rape but it still is not okay. Let us not forget that women desire or lust after men too, but we rarely see them always going about raping men all over the place.
Obviously, the argument is not that women must absolutely be believed and to not hold any blame in a sexual abuse case (because men get abused too), but there just shouldn’t be any systemic bias towards men, and women must be given a voice to speak out against their abusers and demand justice. It is also important that the wheel of justice does not continue to grind slowly for female victims of sexual abuse, as it appears to be the case. Justice delayed could be justice denied.
We certainly need more public outrage, support and demand for justice in the fight against rape, like in the recent rape and murder of the young Nigerian student Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, right in a church where she felt was a safe haven to go and study in. The growing silence of us as a people only gives room for sexual abuse cases to keep growing and for the offenders to even feel free to walk about in society and continue to perpetuate more evil. We must all continue to lend our voice to the fight against sexual abuses because just one day, it could be any of us or our family members falling victims.
Maybe it is easy for me to relate with this rape and sexual abuse thing because someone very close to me almost got raped by a Pastor she held in high esteem and trusted as a brother and friend. Such traumatising experience is one that lives with victims their whole life and only God knows the damage it creates on various aspects of their life.
Maybe that is why a big part of my problem with rape and all other forms of sexual abuse is mostly with the Church, who I expect to take some lead in the fight against sexual abuses, but somehow they seem to play a laid back role and rarely add their voice against this social canker. But that’s not surprising because hardly would you find any Church on the surface of this earth that has not somehow tried to shelve issues of sexual abuse right in the Church under the carpet. If the Churches are constantly seen to be practicing and encouraging sexual abuse, how would they then have the moral right and confidence to come out and speak boldly against the practice?
It’s a really tough world out there for women to get justice for sexual abuses because this male dominated systems or support structures (including the Church) seem only interested in preying on women. The best we see them do is offering women a platform to hear them out but that’s where it seems to end; meanwhile what is of more essence to the victims and the public is real action or justice beyond just being heard. It’s really important for our justice systems and social support structures to be seen to be working effectively.
Perhaps the real work starts with all of us playing our part in creating a safe society for all and really taking a stand against sexual violence. May we not be seen to rather encourage it by either being silent or shielding offenders because they might be our Pastors, employers, family members, friends, and what have you. A victim somewhere is perhaps depending on us. We can all be the voice of the voiceless.
Kindly share your opinion with us, for together, we can all become a strong voice in creating a safe world for all.
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©Mark Gadogbe (2020)