In my previous write up about depression, I pointed out the fact that some people get depressed as a result of being sexually harassed which is in most cases tagged as ‘RAPE’ and as a result, they detach themselves from the society which in turn affects their mental well being, possibly because speaking out gets you judged in most cases, especially in the society we live in. In such situations, questions addressing dress code, manner of approach, relationship with the culprit, and many more, are thrown at the victim, who as stated earlier, isn’t in the right state of mind. But I think it should be stressed that rape can and should never be justified. Once it’s not consensual it’s wrong!
Sexual harassment doesn’t base solely on rape. It could be in different forms even verbal. A friend recently told me a comment made by a guy who has been making advances at her and she’s been ignoring him, he said, “na the one wey I go take tear your clothes you dey do so”, which means I’ll end up tearing your clothes off you if you keep ignoring me, in other words I’ll have you by all means. He may have said that as a joke, but the question is, did she take it as a joke? This is where a consensual agreement comes to play, if she finds it threatening regardless of him thinking it’s a joke he has harassed her indirectly in a verbal way.
The ‘ME TOO MOVEMENT’ around the world recently has been a big eye opener to a lot of sexual immoralities, and one of the major one is RAPE CULTURE. Rape culture as described by wikipedia is a sociological concept used to describe a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalised 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 some forms of sexual violence, or some combination of these.
Victim blaming simply means putting the blame on the victim for their composure before the attack on them probably how they dressed up, talked, walked and so on. Slut shaming goes hand in hand with victim blaming which bases majorly on the attitude or lifestyle of a person. Sexual objectification is an act of treating people as mere objects of sexual desire which is sad because, that’s the world we live in, there is no argument our society is a cultured one and trying to adopt the western ways has played a major role in how we portray ourselves these days leaving out the culture in the process. I don’t think any parent would want to allow their girls go out dressing skimpy and unclad, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be happy hearing a child is raped because of how he or she was dressed. Drugging people so as to make them vulnerable for sex can also be placed in this category and the mental damage it does to the victims is something no one wishes for.
I think the victim blaming and slut shaming is the most dominate thing in our society, I’ve heard countless times where directly or indirectly, people address girls dressed not so decently with statements like “if you get raped now, you know it’s because of your dressing”. This is utterly wrong as no one deserves to be harassed because of his/her physical appearance, the fact that a female wants to look sexually attractive to the opposite sex, doesn’t mean she is inviting them to come have a piece, and even if that’s the case, there has to be an agreement first, anything short of this is bad and punishable.
Sexual Harassment is not limited to the female gender, a man can be sexually harassed or abused too, so also a child and child abuse is a dominant and reoccurring problem all over the world. Due to known and unknown factors, some people prefer to prey on children for their own sexual satisfaction or gratification and this is even worse because, firstly, the predators are usually older and find a way to play on the innocence of the child to get what they want either by telling them what they are doing is ok or threatening them not to tell anyone and then it’s difficult for them to tell anyone what they are going through because now they are scared of what the predator would do to them. Just as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t conform solely on sexual intercourse, displaying pornography to a child, intentional physical contacts with a child’s genitals amongst several other things are also considered sexual harassment or abuse. In most cases, it’s the people we except to be mentors to children like teachers, uncles, aunts, cousins, nannies etc. that turn around to harass them, I’ve heard a lot of stories about uncles and aunts harassing their nieces and nephews, people their parent trusts them with and are supposed to defend them from outsiders trying to bully or harass them. Secondly, it affects their self esteem, take for instance, children who are sold as sex slaves by their family, they don’t feel like they are worth anything to anyone since the persons they perceive to be family would exchange them for a material things or money. There are several other effects such as damage to sexual organs depending on the degree of harassment, insomnia, nightmares, addiction, chronic pains etc. Most of these children live their entire adult lives holding on to these terrible experiences.
In the cases of men it is more of ‘suffering in silence’ because the society would perceive you as weak or not man enough and here in Africa we have a culture that sees invulnerability and denial of pain as essential qualities of MANLINESS. In other words, the male folks are simply not allowed to admit that they’ve been sexually abused or harassed. For male victims, adolescents are targeted more often, and it is usually seen as an exciting journey into the world of sexual activity for a guy not minding the age. There is an on-air-personality I listen to and he once talked about how he was abused by his aunt when he was just eight years old and when he told people around him they teased him and said he was living the dream simply because he is a man. Sexual harassment or abuse with men is more like a myth because we hardly have men come out to tell their stories compared to women and obviously women are more harassed than men are but the reality is that men are being sexually harassed too they are just usually too embarrassed to come out and talk about it
The topic of rape and sexual harassment isn’t new because it’s something that has always been reoccurring in our everyday experience. This is just a reminder of how we react to people who have been harassed in one way or the other and most importantly how we treat them, a victim might just need you to show compassion to him/her but when you tend to judge it becomes more difficult to open up and as a result mess up their mental state and anything can go wrong from there. People commit suicide as a result of sexual harassment. Show more compassion and the world would be more conducive for all to live in.