“To get to a man, you have to understand his language. If he speaks the language of brutal force, then you speak the language of brutal resistance” –Mahatma Gandhi.
This simply means that the first step to understanding and solving a particular problem is to identify it root causes. To this end, it’s pertinent for us to understand and accept that the solution to solving the problem of rape in our society and breaking the chain of “rape culture” is more of social than legal.
We can have scores of legislations and still have dozens of rapists and paedophiles rearing their heads and causing mayhem – recent occurrences are clear pointers to that.
What this part of today’s discussion seeks to achieve is to identify the root causes of rape and social solutions to these identified problems.
To begin with, every human being is a product of a social institution, of which the family is the most viatal. When these institutions(family, educational, religious, e.t.c) fail in their responsiblities, then the society will be faced with a lot of vices, rape inclusive.
Cultural and social norms are rules or expectations of behaviour within a specific cultural or social group. Often unspoken, these norms offer social standards of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, governing what is (and is not) acceptable and thus co-ordinates our interactions with others. It is disheartening that quite a number of these norms support violence against women which in turn aid the act of rape.
Moreover, different cultural and social norms support different types of violence. For instance, traditional beliefs that men have a right to control or discipline women through physical means makes women vulnerable to violence by intimate partners and places girls at risk of sexual abuse. Equally, cultural acceptance of violence, including sexual violence, as a private affair hinders outside intervention and prevents those affected from speaking out and gaining support. In many societies, victims of sexual violence also feel stigmatized, which inhibits reporting.
Additionally, strong evidence of an association between alcohol consumption and violent behaviour means that cultural and social norms around the use of alcohol and its expected effects can also encourage and justify violent acts. In some countries, harmful use of alcohol is estimated to be responsible for 26% of male and 16% of female disability-adjusted life years lost as a result of homicide. Societies that tolerate higher rates of acute alcohol intoxication report stronger relationships between alcohol use and violence than those where drinking occurs moderately (World report on violence and health. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2002)
Having stated that certain cultural norms tend to support violence, which in turn can lead to rape, it should be noted that a shift from certain cultural norms and values have, on a larger scale, contributed to the increase in rape in the society.
Chief among this is the watching of pornography or videos or movies with pornographic content.
In the past, it was unheard of – more of a taboo, for one to look at the nudity of another, be it of the same or opposite sex. But with the coming of phones and technology, pornographic content have become so easy to access and this contributes to the cause of rape, because one will always want to practicalize what he sees and watches. With this in mind, such a person can utilize the slightest opportunity to practice what he watched. This is what has led to cases of a brother raping his sister, niece, mother, e.t.c
In addition, the abuse of drugs also serves as a contributory factor as an intoxicated person can easily engage in vices, for in such moments he does whatever the drugs dictate.
In as much as many won’t like to hear this, the truth is that indecent dressing is also a contributory factor, in certain limited context. I’m not saying it’s the chief cause, for cases are replete where well dressed ladies and even babies have been violated. Research has shown that in certain situations, these rapists are “time bombs” waiting to explode and what triggers them is the sight of a half dressed or half-naked lady. Take for instance, what would be the reaction of someone who has been watching porn for days, upon sighting a half-dressed lady? I’m not in anyway saying a similar reaction cannot be made towards a well dressed lady, but the probability of such a reaction is higher towards the former than the latter.
What we should consider next is “rape culture” and how to break it’s chain.
“Boys will be boys.”
“She was drunk.”
“Women say “no” when they mean “yes.”
Comments like the above are insensitive and should be done away with. “Rape culture” is pervasive. It’s embedded in the way we think, speak, and move. While the contexts may differ, rape culture is always rooted in patriarchal beliefs, power, and control.
“Rape culture” is a social environment that allows sexual violence to be normalized and justified, fueled by the persistent gender inequalities and attitudes about gender and sexuality.
Everyday, we have the opportunity to examine our behaviours and beliefs for biases that permit “rape culture” to continue. From the attitudes we have about gender identities to the policies we support in our communities, we can all take action to stand against “rape culture”.
Here are ways you can do your part:
1. Create a culture of enthusiastic consent
Consent freely given is mandatory, every time. Rather than waiting for a “no,” make sure there is an active, “yes,” from all parties involved. Adopt enthusiastic consent in your life and talk about it.
2. Speak out against the root causes.
“Rape culture” is encouraged when we buy into ideas of masculinity which see violence and dominance as “strong” and undervalue women and girls. It is also underpinned by victim-blaming—an attitude that suggests the victim, rather than the perpetrator bears responsibility for the assault. When discussing cases of sexual violence, a victim’s sobriety, clothes, and sexuality are irrelevant. Instead, counter the idea that men and boys must obtain power through violence and question the notion of sex as an entitlement.
3. Redefine masculinity.
Take a critical look at what masculinity means and how it isembodied. Self-reflection, community conversations, and artistic expression are just some of the tools available for men and boys (as well as women and girls) to examine and redefine masculinities with feminist principles.
4. Stop victim-blaming.
Because language is deeply embedded in culture, we may forget that the words and phrases we use each day shape our reality. Rape-affirming beliefs are embedded in our language: “She was dressed like a slut. She was asking for it” You have the power to choose to leave behind language that blame victims, objectify women and excuse sexual harassment. What a woman is wearing, what and how much she had to drink, and where she was at a certain time, are not invitations to rape her.
5. Have zero tolerance.
Establish policies of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and violence in places where you live, work, and play. Leaders must be particularly clear that they are committed to upholding a zero-tolerance policy and that it must be practised every day. As a starting point, take a look at what you can do to make harassment at work a history.
6. Broaden your understanding of “rape culture”.
Across time and contexts, “rape culture” takes many forms. It’s important to recognize that “rape culture” goes beyond the narrow notion of a man assaulting a woman as she walks alone at night. For instance, “rape culture” encompasses a wide array of harmful practices that rob women and girls of their autonomy and rights, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation.
7. Know the factors that underpin “rape culture” and the myths that surround it.
While no one may disagree that rape is wrong, through words, actions and inaction, sexual violence and sexual harassment is normalized and trivialized, leading us down a slippery slope of “rape culture”.
8. Listen to survivors.
In the era of “#MeToo, #TimesUp, #NiUnaMenos, #BalanceTonPorc”, and other online movements, survivors of violence are speaking out more than ever before. Listen to their experiences, read stories of survivors and activists around the globe, and follow “#OrangeTheWorld and #GenerationEquality” on social media.
Don’t say, “Why didn’t she leave?”
Do say: “We hear you. We see you. We believe you.”
9. Don’t laugh at rape.
Rape is never a funny punchline. Rape jokes delegitimize sexual violence, making it harder for victims to speak up when their consent is violated. Humour that normalizes and justifies sexual violence is not acceptable. Call it off.
10. End impunity
To end “rape culture”, perpetrators must be held accountable. By prosecuting sexual violence cases, we recognize these acts as crimes and send strong messages of zero-tolerance. Wherever you see pushback against legal consequences for perpetrators, fight for justice and accountability.
11. Be an active bystander.
One in three women worldwide experience abuse. Violence against women is shockingly common, and we may become witness to non-consensual or violent behaviour. Intervening as an active bystander signals to the perpetrator that their behaviour is unacceptable and could also help someone stay safe.
First, assess the situation to determine what kind of help, if any, might be appropriate. You may be able to support the target of sexual harassment by asking how they are or if they would like help, or by documenting the incident, creating distractions to diffuse the situation, or making a short and clear statement directly to the perpetrator such as, “‘I’m uncomfortable with what you are doing.”
Read up on how you can be an active bystander, and take a bystander intervention training hosted by your university, municipality, or local NGO.
12. Educate the next generation.
It’s in our hands to inspire future generations of the world. Challenge the gender stereotypes and violence ideas that children encounter in the media, on the streets, and at school. Let your children know that your family is a safe place for them to express themselves as they are.
13. Affirm their choices and teach the importance of consent at a young age.
Look for inspirational content and read. This will go a long way in breaking the chain.
14. Start or join the conversation.
Talk to family and friends about how you can work together to end “rape culture” in your communities. Whether it’s hosting a conversation club that unpacks the meaning of masculinity, fundraising for a women’s rights organization, or joining forces to protest rape-affirming decisions and policies, it will take all of us to stand united against rape culture.
You can join the conversation online right now by following #Orangetheworld and #GenerationEquality.
Having looked at the above, what ways can rape be redued in the society?
1. Proper training of the male Child:
Over time, much emphasis has been laid on the training of female children than over their male counterparts. It is always “watch what you wear girl”, “don’t do that”, “avoid boys”, e.t.c
I think it’s high time parent went back to the drawing board and give much more attention to the training of the male child. Male children should be taught about respect for the female gender, taught to shun violence against the opposite sex, taught to discard that sense of entitlement and control over the female child, e.t.c.
2. Proper dressing:
Girls should also learn to dress properly to avoid triggering “time bomb” rapists. Proper dressing is a virtue, for as it is said; “dress the way you want to be addressed”.
3. Avoid Drugs and bad Company:
Both boys and girls should avoid the abuse of drugs and bad Company. Talks like “it erases worries”, “it makes you bold”, “it makes you calm”,e.t.c are all fallacies to get you into the act. Avoid friends with such notions.
4. Zero Tolerance:
There should be zero tolerance for the offence of rape. Never cover up for any rapist, for if you do, you’re no better than a rapist.
5. Speak out against the root causes:
We should all be crusaders; speak out against the root causes such as the right of male dominance, less value for the female gender e.t.c., in order to break the chain.
Strategies to Help Avoid Sexual Assault and Rape
1. Assertive Behavior
Awareness and assertive behavior may be your best defense against becoming an “easy target.”
Hold your head up; walk confidently, directly and at a steady pace. If you sense the danger of being attacked, try to escape the situation by running away from it if you can. Try in any way you can to attract attention to yourself. Screaming “Call 911” or “Fire” is a good way to accomplish this.
If you are being followed, head for a well lit area where you think there will be other people who may be able to help you. Stay alert and aware. Know where the exits are if you are in a building. In crowded places such as nightclubs, always let someone know where you will be. Do not go to isolated places in a building, if you must go, take a friend. Always turn around and look at whoever may be behind you. If you walk or jog for exercise, try to vary your route and time on the street. To be predictable is risky.
2. Take a self-defense course.
Trust your “gut instincts.” If a person, place or situation makes you uneasy, leave or change it immediately. Use the emergency call boxes on campus.
3.Talk to roommates about the importance of everyone following the safety strategies at all times.
Do not prop open any doors to a residence hall, house or apartment building at any time.
Safety Tips – Dating
Know your sexual limits. What you want is critical, and you need to know what that is. Be assertive about your limits. You have the right to say “no.” Communicate your desires. Communication leads to stronger and more fulfilling relationships.
Avoid being alone in isolated locations. If someone is leading you toward a secluded area, try to get away as quickly as possible.
Rape can occur when one or both individuals are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Set limits on alcohol consumption.
Be aware of “Date Rape” drugs. The drugs (Rohypnol, GHB) are odorless and tasteless and can be easily slipped into soft drinks, juices or alcoholic drinks undetected. Do not leave your beverage unattended to or accept a drink from someone you do not know and or trust.
Attend large parties with friends you can trust. Agree to “look out” for one another. Try to leave with your group, rather than alone or with someone you don’t know very well.
Don’t be afraid to “make waves” or hurt someone’s feelings if you feel they are threatening to you. Better a few minutes of social awkwardness or embarrassment than the trauma of sexual assault.
Safety Tips – At Home
Have good locks (dead bolts are best) installed on all doors and be sure to use them. Make sure all windows are locked and well secured.
Be sure you know who you are opening your door to. If a sales or repair person is legitimate, they will not mind your asking to see identification and confirming their identity with the company they represent.
Residence hall staff and/or university employees will not mind identifying themselves when they knock on your door.
If a stranger comes to your door requesting assistance (e.g. to make a phone call, car trouble, etc) offer to call the necessary people for him/her. Do not make yourself vulnerable by opening your door to a stranger, especially if you live by yourself or are at home alone.
For women who live by themselves in a house or apartment, do not provide your full identity by listing your full name in the phone book or on a mailbox. Instead, use your first two initials, or even add another name. Be cautious about revealing any personal information over the telephone and/or Internet.
Draw your curtains or blinds shut at night so people on the outside cannot determine who is in the residence.
Do not hide a spare key in obvious places such as under the mat, in a potted plant, in a fake rock or on the doorsill, etc. Residence hall students should keep their room keys in their possession at all times. Do not leave door keys hanging in locks or laying out in plain view of others. Always lock your doors after you.
Safety Tips – In Your Car
Always make sure you lock your car doors, whether or not you are in the car. Always check the floor and rear seat before getting into your car.
When returning to your car, make sure your keys are in your hand, ready for use in unlocking the door and turning on the ignition. They can also be used as a weapon, should that become necessary.
If you suspect that you are being followed while driving, keep on going, do not pullover until you get to some place that is well lit or where there are other people to assist you. If possible, drive to the nearest police station to let them know you are being followed.
Avoid parking lots and garages that are poorly lit. Do not walk to and from your parked car alone. If it is at night, ask some persons to walk you to your car.
If your car should break down, raise the hood and remain in the car with the doors locked until the police arrive. If you have a cell phone, call someone for help or call 911. If someone should stop and offer to assist you, roll down the window just enough to tell them they can call the police for you.
1. What do you mean by child marriage vis a vis our religions and cultures?
2. Many victims of rape are afraid to come forward and speak up, due to threats or how the society will look at them. As a result of that many rapist go scot free and look for their next victim because they already know, that the poor girl/lady won’t be able to talk. What are your thoughts on how to curb this and encourage the victims to come forward?
1. Child marriage is child marriage just as it reads. I’m not unmindful of religious and cultural beliefs allowing early marriages. But this should be done with humanity and intelligence. Children should not be married off at ages when giving birth will become a problem when they conceieve.This and many other factors should be considered before marrying off these kids, for no culture or religion would allow harm to be metted out on people.
2. I discussed this earlier. Zero tolerance should be encouraged and applied. Report all cases of rape and never cover up for anyone because if you do, you’re no better than the rapist. Moreover, we should stop victim blaming and stigmatization for that discourages victims from speaking up and coming out to share their stories.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ibrahim Abubakar Musa is a level 4 student with the Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He is a critic, a political analyst, an advocate of good governance and due process, a Public Speaker and a Human Rights Activist. He is a Dispute Resolution enthusiast with bias in Maritime Law, International Arbitration, Artificial Intelligence, Legal Drafting and other aspects of Corporate and Commercial Law practice. He is an avid researcher and writer with a sterling leadership credentials.
For knowledge and Justice