“Sasa mama mkubwa kama wewe, unaweza acha vitu kama hizo zifanyike? Kwa nini?” he asked. I was incredulous. “Ati sasa walikushika? Kitu ndogo kama hio, huwezi achilia? Lazima ufuatilie? Ai!” So I explained that the men actually threatened to physically harm me, to which he laughed. “I will never understand how women are assaulted and raped. Why do you have a mouth?” I thought this was a rhetorical question, so I did not respond. I just wanted him to fill my form so that I could get out of there. “Why do you have a mouth? I am asking you!” So I said“To eat and speak, I guess.” “And when the worst comes to the worst, what do you do with that mouth?” “You bite, I guess,” I said. “Exactly! You bite! So how are women attacked and raped all over and they have mouths!” Then he laughed for what seemed to be an eternity. “In fact, when someone is threatening to rape you or hurt you, you do not resist. You let them think you are actually going to let them do it, and then when they get near, you bite!” He continued to laugh. –brainstorm
I don’t know how many of you read this story…an experience a lot of women can relate to in some way. The paragraph I have chosen to include here shows just how fucked up some people’s minds are and why women and men who have been assaulted more often than not will choose to keep what happened to them secret. How on earth does someone you seek help from and expect to be sensitive to your situation have the audacity to spout such crap?
Unfortunately that’s how majority of our society thinks. Victims of sexual abuse are viewed more like sluts who dressed provocatively, teased their attacker, were irresponsible or misunderstood what happened. Often people will listened to your story and tell you where you went wrong and give tips on what they would have done differently. Thing is all this does is reinforce that what happened was their fault, and has a way of making someone feel isolated, worthless and tainted.
I do have a lot of open minded friends but there are still some of even my educated and experienced generation that will sit there and say things like “she was drunk off her ass at a house party, if you ask me she was asking for it”. Conversations with these people seem to revolve around the woman having to be responsible for the man’s actions. We must wear burqas, avoid more than one drink, travel in packs, only eat food we cooked and prepared ourselves…in fact if you can avoid going out altogether that would be awesome…greet any man that whistles at you by the roadside, avoid street corners because only malayas stand there….and so on. Check yourself if you think this way.
In bad situations there is an attacker/instigator and a victim/survivor. Irrespective of what state of mind or dress a woman/man, invading their personal space without clear consent is assault and you have officially earned the title of attacker…you are a criminal, responsible for YOUR actions.
Don’t patronize a survivor with daft questions like “do you have a mouth” or “what were you wearing” instead support them through their trauma. Let them share their thoughts, be there during examinations/interrogations/trial whatever it may be to whatever extent they are comfortable with. If you can’t be supportive, shove off and mind your own business.
*sigh* you can tell by my rant that this something I take issue with. I’ve ended up in arguments with people online from different parts of the world over this and sometimes I feel really disappointed in what we’ve let society devolve into. It almost feels like there are more negative people on this earth than compassionate ones. Then I heard about
a Non-Profit Organization based out of the U.S., and all the people who support it 🙂 They run an annual global awareness campaign where ladies (and guys) rock red lipstick all throughout the month of April (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) to demonstrate solidarity and support for survivors and start important conversations with people in their lives. Red My Lips is designed to raise visibility and awareness about the realities and prevalence of sexual violence, while combating rape myths and victim-blaming.
It’s a beautiful tool because ‘the scarlet letter’ has always been used to paint women of loose morals. We’re owning the colour and using it to start positive conversations with people I our lives be it in person or via social media. We’re also letting people who feel ashamed and alone in their hurt know that there are people who stand with them and believe in their ability to stop being a victim and become a warrior.
Our first step? Helping survivors see support on the faces of those around them.
One bad situation should not make a person the butt of the office jokes, have them branded a whore or define who they are. Don’t go at them with where they went wrong…trust me they’ve done that so many times, while sobbing in the shower and asking for forgiveness.
I decided to join the movement in my own little way and hope you will too.