TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Violence, Murder, Femicide
Due to the recent spate of rape and violence against women and children, I felt compelled to write.
We have seen, read and heard of numerous cases over these past few weeks of women and children who have been raped and/or murdered by familiar men that they knew and trusted. Girls as young as 2 years old being raped by their fathers. Women being raped by their boyfriends and husbands.
It’s bad enough as it is that women are raped by unfamiliar men, but being raped by a relative or man that she knows and trusts is on another level of sick.
Why is it that these men have the notion that they are entitled to a woman’s body?
Society’s victim blaming isn’t of much help either. We are always told not to wear revealing clothing, not to be out late at night, not to flirt, not to go to clubs, not to drink, not to attract attention, etc etc. We are told to be vigilant. As if being vigilant will stop men from thinking that they’re entitled to a woman’s body.
What about the 2-year-old girl who is unaware of her surroundings and doesn’t know better, who can’t even tell left from right? The woman who is vigilant, but cannot protect herself? The woman who is modest, covers herself from head to toe, but is still raped?
This just goes to show that, no matter how vigilant/alert/aware you are, no matter how well/badly you uphold yourself (whether modest or not), just living and breathing as a woman is dangerous and unsafe. We basically have to live our lives in fear.
I used to have the notion that because I wear a headscarf and cover myself up, I would be safe. However, the reality is that I could be a victim of rape or sexual assault at some point in my life. It is a reality that all women and girls are forced to face.
Instead of telling women to be vigilant and that they shouldn’t get themselves into situations wherein they could potentially be raped/sexually violated or harassed (this sentiment also adds to society’s BS – you don’t get yourself into a situation. It’s not something intended or wanted by the potential victim. Why would anyone even think that?), we should be teaching men and boys to respect women and their bodies. That they are not entitled to them. That ‘no’ means ‘no’. That if a woman is in a drunken/drugged state, she shouldn’t be taken advantage of. That if a woman does not want to give them attention, they should accept it. That they shouldn’t drug women to rape them/spike their drinks. That enforcing rape isn’t ‘experimental’. That if a woman flirts, it doesn’t mean that she wants to engage in sexual activity. That if their wife/girlfriend is not in the mood, she shouldn’t be raped. That it is wrong to sexually objectify women. That molesting children is not okay. That being physically, emotionally, verbally or mentally abusive is not okay.
Although I may currently be (somewhat, not completely) safe at school during the day (but then again, am I really?), what will happen to me/my sister when I exit school? Are my friends who are currently at university at CPUT, UWC, UCT, Stellenbosch okay? Will I be safe when/if I go to university next year? These are the worrying thoughts that I have. I am worried for my mother, my sister, my cousins and my friends.
Even learning institutions are unsafe for women – rapists walk around freely.
The thread referred to above can be read here.
These cases are only barely scratching the surface:
What about the victims who have never made the news? The victims who survive and have to live with trauma and be scarred forever? The victims/families who are put through emotional difficulty because rapists aren’t convicted?
We will remember Karabo Mokoena, Courtney Pieters and the countless, nameless victims.
@ Society and Men: WE ARE SCARED. WE ARE TERRIFIED. WE ARE FED UP AND TIRED. WHEN WILL IT END?
A serious amount of learning and unlearning needs to be done by men for change to happen.
Here a few bodies that offer counseling or advice if you ever find yourself being a victim.
P.S. if you, for some reason, failed to understand the context of this post then read this article for clarification (don’t just judge/make assumptions by the title of the article).