Despite the rising voices speaking up and acting against sexual violence, it is still prevalent in staggering numbers.Victims, usually don’t feel supported. This is because our cultures on different levels perpetuate, trivialise, excuse and tolerate rape with or without realising it, writes Cynthia Mukanzi
1. Defending Rapists
It encourages perpetrators and squarely leaves the victim anguished and frustrated. This is common. It would be said that the accused was drunk, therefore, not in their right mind or made ill judgment. Drunk or not, there is no enough excuse that explains why someone should hurt others.
2. Media perpetuating objectification and sexualisation
We are talking about books, theatre plays, movies, music and TV shows that portray women as nothing other than toys or tools for sexual gratification.
Zigo by AY and Diamond Platnumz hit a massive high upon its release. The song portrays women as enjoyment objects that should be devoured by men. It shows that the ideal sexual situation is when a “man ravishes woman”. Such ideas become entrenched into the cultural meanings of masculinity and feminity. Media lionises non-consensual communication.
3 Laughing off street harassment
It is not funny. Street harassment is scary and can quickly escalate from simple cat-calling to physical attacks. Things can escalate to full-blown violence and with the bystander effect, at times people will just watch and walk by instead of intervening.
4.. Victim blaming
Sexual abuse survivors are told they ‘asked for it’ because they were drunk, hanging out with the bad crew, inappropriately dressed or being at a wrong place at the wrong time. But if all this is right, it makes you wonder what would make an old burly man or woman defile minors. Victim blaming teaches rape perpetrators to not feel guilty about what they’ve done. It is devastating and sadly still a big reality in this century.
5. Making jokes about rape
There is no sense of humour in rape jokes. It is insensitive and hurtful to survivors of sexual abuse. It impairs their healing, trivialises and glorifies sexual abuse making it admirable when it is a violation.
6. Dictating dress codes
It starts by small things like telling your child to put on a long dress because there are men in the house. First of all, what kind of men are those that you are inviting into your home if you can’t trust them and thus your child has to be the one inconvenienced. Giving abusers a reason to have a go at women or men when they dress in a certain manner is simply outrageous and appalling.
It is also victim blaming. People should be free to wear what they want and feel safe enough to go wherever they desire without constantly looking over their shoulder. It has never been a matter of dressing because infants get defiled and we can’t say they had it coming.
7. Teaching people not to get raped
Individuals should be taught to be respectful and ask for consent in all situations including sexual decisions. They should be taught not to rape and this can only work if it is inculcated in them since childhood. That is how people will not be raped. We need to destroy the idea that men are natural aggressors who always want to be pleasured and the woman’s duty to cater for it.
8. Referring to rape as sex
Anything that is not consensual sex is rape. No sugar-coating or hiding behind the curtain. If saying the word is this gross then it should be equally hard to touch someone else without their permission. No one deserves to be sexually abused and if we are to stop the conversation then it has to be after abolishing sexual violence.
9. Applauding men for having sex, but shaming women on the same
Patting a man for sleeping with countless women and referring to this as “being a man”, but slut-shaming women for it promotes toxic masculinity. While men go around making sexual ‘conquests’ women are told to remain chaste or let the man take the lead.
That it is the man’s nature to pursue and woman to submit whether they like it or not. The same woman will then be called out as promiscuous and dirty even after doing what society expects. Society’s obsession with hypermasculinity threatens the safety of both sexes.
10. Failure to educate children about sex
Healthy discussions about sex and consent should be tackled by parents, caregivers, guardians and teachers from an early age. If not, children will turn to pornography, other Internet sources and their peers for answers and end up with skewed information on the topic.
Some children are having sex in their pre-teens and so shying off from the talk will breed a generation of misinformed people who will then make grave mistakes and pass them onto their offspring if they live long to have any.