The Rape Culture: An advocacy for the inclusion of Mental health awareness and wellbeing.

Our mental health is a main tool for self-actualization and progressive wellness. We are indeed who we think we are. Our perspective about all that is around us can only bring either destruction in several ways or change the narrative from bad to good. It is crucial to note that mental health awareness and well-being is very important to influence and dissect the rape culture in our world today.

The offence of rape is a serious crime which is trivial and could usually be difficult to resolve. How can you measure the damage done in fact by any lengthy terms of imprisonment? It is uncultured for anyone to forcefully engage in sexual pleasures with the opposite sex. I said opposite sex because men can also be victims of rape. Traditionally, rape was simply theft of sexual property under the ownership of someone other than the rapist. It was a crime in which the target victims are mostly the female gender; this explains why early laws on rape were enacted to protect these categories of people.  Nonetheless,, laws are being enacted and imbibed to embrace ‘man-rape’ also. An example is the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 which provides according to Section 1(1) (a) that; “a person commits the offence of rape if he or she intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with any other part of his or her body or anything else.” Not many States in Nigeria however, has imbibed this law to their Criminal law systems but an action can be brought in the Federal Capital Territory where a woman is accused of the offence of rape against a man. 

Under the Criminal Code, rape is when any person has sexual intercourse with a woman or girl, without her consent, or incorrectly obtained consent. Consent can be incorrectly obtained where it is obtained: by force/threat/intimidation by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, by a person impersonating a married woman’s husband in order to have sex. Under the Penal Code, rape is when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, or with incorrectly obtained consent. Consent can be incorrectly obtained where it is obtained: by putting her in fear of death or hurt; by a person impersonating a married woman’s husband in order to have sex. Further under the Penal Code, sex with a girl under 14 years of age or who is of unsound mind is rape, irrespective of whether there is consent. Also the Penal Code, explicitly states that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife is not rape.

In Adeoti v State, the court held that, “…the offence of rape is said to be consummated where a man has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl without her consent or against her will or with her will or consent if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threat or intimidation of any kind or by means of deceit, falsehood or fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act…”

It is reported according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN); someone experiences sexual assault every 98 seconds. Survivors of sexual violence often experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and are at an increased risk for thinking about, attempting, and completing suicide. Sexual trauma is also a factor for many individuals experiencing depression, anxiety, addictions, and disordered eating. 

According to Wikipedia, rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Behaviours commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification, trivialising rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by sexual violence, or some combination of these. It has been used to describe and explain behaviour within social groups, including prison rape and in conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire societies have been alleged to be rape cultures. It is associated with rape fantasy and rape pornography. It is a way of life whereby the act of rape is seen as a norm. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.  Whether you suffer from mild depression or anxiety, or you’re helping a loved one cope with a more serious condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, you probably realize that it is not only the condition that’s difficult to live with, but also the social isolation.

Lack of proper care for the mental health and wellbeing of a man is a grave factor affecting the rampant cases of rape in our world today. Sexual assault can have a variety of short- and long-term effects on a victim’s mental health. Many survivors usually report flashbacks of their assault, and feelings of shame, isolation, shock, confusion, and guilt. People who were victims of rape or sexual assault are at an increased risk for developing: Depression, PTSD, Substance Use Disorders, Eating Disorders and Anxiety.

Having a previous history of being a victim and the negative reactions from family, friends, and professionals worsen the impact of sexual violence on mental health. Sexual trauma can have such a serious impact on the mental health of man. Therefore, it is important that services and supports consider and address the trauma that many individuals have experienced.

Therefore, it is so important to raise awareness about mental health, and do all you can to assist and support patients and loved ones who are trying to deal with any mental health condition. We can however promote or improve our mental health and wellbeing by talking about how we feel either to a friend or a therapist, by exercising and keeping active, eating well, avoiding or taking less alcohol, catching up with friends and family, asking for help and advice from family and friends, changing your pace or environment, doing things you are good at and which are productive. You can also endeavour to accept that you are unique, work on your strengths and be kind to yourself. Feeling good about yourself will boosts your confidence, be proud of who you are. Caring for others also give peace of mind to man. Avoid watching any program that could trigger bad memories or flashbacks. This could include the obvious things such as news reports about sexual violence and sexually explicit TV shows and movies. 

From the foregoing it is pertinent to include mental health treatment to victims of rape and rapists in order to build a sound and safe society devoid of rape culture. Furthermore, for rapist who are or will be convicted for the crime, in addition to imprisonment, there should also be provision for a therapy session where mental health and wellbeing of the rapist will be discussed and treated. Indeed, many are mad but few are naked, what can we do to cloth one another? It is by support, sympathy and empathy.

OBADA TOYOSI CHARLES. Is a 300 level Law Student of Achievers University. Pioneer LAWSAN President, Achievers University, Owo Chapter.
LIFIN Representative.

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