THE ACT OF STIGMATIZING RAPE VICTIMS IN OUR SOCIETY

A few days ago, a young lady talked about how she was sexually harassed at a music concert, about a month ago (Phyno’s Phynofest concert that took place in Enugu state). After her post, there were a lot of complains about what happened at the event. Apparently, about 20 girls were raped and a lot more were sexually harassed. According to some sources, there were recorded videos of some of the artists at the event trying to rescue some of the girls that were assaulted. What was astonishing was the fact after the concert, the said musician never apologized to this fans about the mess that occurred at his event, and neither did he apologize after the issues was brought up again a few days ago. Instead, he dismissed the claim by asking why it took so long for the victims to speak up, which is usually the response to a lot of rape and sexual harassment cases in our society.

We live in a society where rape victims get stigmatized almost as much as rapists. I first noticed this, when I showed a girl a video of a teenager getting raped by a group of boys, her first reaction was ‘they’ve spoilt her reputation’, then it occurred to me that this would be the reaction of so many other people. People hear about rape cases and focus on the victim, not the rapist, in fact, they almost ignore the offender, who is often a man, probably because the society is used to condemning women for everything, including the misdeeds of men. Or maybe the society just expects these ugly behaviors from men, while women are expected to try as much as possible to avoid men who exhibit behaviors like this, rather than finding a way to deal with the people who pose the actual threat.

One can almost think that there are no laws against sexual harassment in Nigeria, with the way that act is so rampant, but the truth is the fact that the laws almost do not function. When a rape victim comes forward, she gets victimized and shamed, in other to protect her rapist from the stigma he deserves. She is asked ‘why did you go to his house?’, ‘why did you wear a revealing cloth?’, ‘why didn’t you struggle with him?’, ‘why were you walking late at night?’, instead of simply asking the rapist why he raped her. At the end, the woman alone is left to bear the burden of being raped and being the cause of her rape.

The mentality of stigmatizing victims is a outrageous and needs to be fixed. Women shouldn’t have to ‘avoid’ rape or be blamed for causing it, while the rapists themselves are rooming around freely. This behavior will only give these men the will to continue to this devious acts. Women are human beings and should be respected as such, not sexualized, objectified or sexually assaulted continuously. The government and the society as a whole should take issues of sexual assaults serious by penalizing the offenders. We do not need to go through the trauma that rape can cause for its victims, before we understand the need for curbing the act, because clearly, it is not a pleasant one. The society needs to work together to make our environment a safer place for women, we cannot continue to tell women to shrink themselves or act and dress in a particular way in other to avoid sexual assaults, when the people responsible for these assaults are human beings that are capable of controlling themselves, not wild animals.

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