The way our society treats rape & other forms of sexual abuse leave me in pain & shock, other times disappointed.
The recent happenings in the Big Brother Nigeria house remind me of how the victim can indeed be seen as the perpetrator. In case you’re not sure of what went down in the reality show some days ago, i’ll summarise. A housemate (T boss) was molested by another housemate (Kemen) while she was asleep. He reached for her under the sheets without her consent and there’s video evidence backing this.
Even with corroborating evidence, a larger number of people are of the “oh well, she asked him to massage her earlier and who does that if they are not attracted to the person?” opinion. I find this mindset near ridiculous.
These same set of people are the ones that justify rape and exonerate the rapist with the “why was she walking past them in such a sexy manner?” “Why was she in his house?” “Why was she wearing a short skirt?” questions. As if somehow those statements make the act acceptable.
The fact that many are hurling insults and shaming T boss despite video evidence shows how much rape culture has been entrenched in our society. Such an example is why many victims would rather die in silence than tell anyone about their ordeal. We’ve normalised sexual assault to the point that the perpetrator is excused and the victim labelled and shamed.
Victims barely speak up because they know that there are no concrete laws to help them. They know that even after all has withered, they will always be referred to as “the girl/boy who was raped”.
So, I’m here to tell Nigerians in the nicest way I can, the problem is not the victim but us. We shame the victim & seem oblivious to the trauma that comes with the act. We excuse the rapist & normalise violating another human being. We are the problem.
Instead of contributing to the existing rape culture, we need to teach our children about sexual assault. Part of the issue is instead of teaching them how not to take advantage of people when they are vulnerable, we make it look like a game for the strong and the weak.
Part of the problem is that we focus on the accused and doubt the accuser. We ignore how much pain the victim is in and try to look for ways to exonerate the perpetrator. We can’t have a better society if we don’t change the way we think. It’s painful to know that even today, with a video all over the internet, people still don’t see that a wrong act has been commuted. It is sad.
We additionally need to start working on serious policies that address sexual violence in Nigeria. We are too old and advanced for us to still think sexual violence is a thing of the western countries.