Recently, I was nearly raped when I went visiting a male friend of mine. This guy pushed me to the bed and tried to have his way with me. I was just lucky that he came back to his senses when I pushed him with all the strength in me. Most ladies do not get it that easy. They fall into the traps of perverts who physically abuse them and molest them sexually too. I posted my experience on social media and I was surprised at the response I got from my audience. People from all over the world were sending in their experiences. How relatives, neighbours, friends and strangers abused them when they were young. Majority of the victims claimed that this act was perpetrated by people they knew and even trusted.
For this column, we will be talking mostly about topics that are shied upon by society and we will be seeking redress for these. One of the dreaded subjects which almost every lady has an attempted experience is rape. Rape is prevalent in our society but people keep their mouths shut on it. Lives are being destroyed by this act but the laws are not being enforced in our part of the continent to deal drastically with these heinous crimes. African parents hardly educate their children on sex and its related complications. The school system and religious centres even shun this critical issue. Society must hear us this time.
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. A United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually across the globe. Nevertheless, rape is one of the most under-reported crimes because of fear, shame, shyness, victimization and harm. And both males and females are victims of this cruel act.
The effect of rape is devastating. People who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the two weeks following the rape. They easily contemplate and attempt suicide. Sexual violence affect victims’ relationships with their family, friends, and co-workers. They easily get angry and paranoid and mostly end up doing drugs to suppress their feeling of inferiority. Most get emotionally destabilised for life. They feel vulnerable, timid, and not fully in control of their lives. Some even die out of abortion and others contract deadly sexually related diseases.
Victims are stigmatized when they come out to report it. Most of the female victims are even usually blamed for seducing the men who raped them with their dressing, walking, talking, and calling for the rape with their attitude. Such a wrong mentality to have! Most ladies or gentlemen refuse to talk about their ordeal because of the shame and fear of being ridiculed and blamed. Guys who are raped keep silent over it because people will not even believe them and also because of the social orientation that men are strong, they keep mute so not to be laughed at.
Most people are not raped by strangers. They are raped by relatives, friends, partners and other times strangers. Why then do they decide not to report these culprits? Fear of being harmed by their predators. Most rapists threaten to kill their victims when they tell the secret to others. Shame; people do not want fingers to be pointed at them. The fear also of not tarnishing their family’s image makes victims keep mute.
How can we get people to come out and talk then? People must stop pointing fingers at others who have been harassed. Women must not be ashamed of themselves for going through such ordeals. It’s never their fault. Parents must win the confidence of their children so that they can trust them enough to narrate their encounters.
To solve the problem of rape, men especially must be taught not to rape. Don’t ever have sex with anyone against their will! Consent is key. The public must be educated on rape consciousness through awareness programmes. Governments need to address the political, social, and economic structures that subordinate women, and work to address the unemployment issues. All stakeholders in the society must engage in media awareness discussions. Schools must teach about sex education. There must be stricter laws to deter rapists. Counseling too must be provided to people with sexually defected tendencies. When all these are taken into consideration and implemented, the level of rape will reduce drastically.
Rachel Raphason graduated with a BA degree in Political Science and Linguistics from the University of Ghana where she is currently studying International Relations (MPhil). She is a short story writer, poet and essayist with works published in numerous literary outlets in Ghana. Rachel loves to smile and an advocate of women empowerment.
This is an excerpt from Youth Shades Magazine October 2017 Issue. Click here to get your copy for free.