World Health Organisation (WHO) defines sexual violence as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person's sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work. From the same source, it encompasses acts that range from verbal sexual harassment to forced penetration, and an array of types of coercion from social pressure and intimidation to physical force. Sexual violence includes, but is not limited to rape within marriage or dating relationships; rape by strangers or acquaintances; unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment (at school, work etc.); systematic rape, sexual slavery and other forms of violence, which are particularly common in armed conflicts (e.g. forced impregnation); sexual abuse of mentally or physically disabled people; rape and sexual abuse of children; ‘customary’ forms of sexual violence, such as forced marriage or cohabitation and wife inheritance.
Sexual violence is done without the consent of the other person involved. It is having a forced sexual intercourse in marriage or outside marriage because it's without the consent of the other person. It is having sex with someone when they don't want to because of some particular reasons or things that might happen. It is also verbally degrading or humiliating someone sexually. It could be forcing or coercing someone to do something sexual that they find degrading and/or humiliating.
Females are not the only victims of sexual violence as reported in a fact sheet that in the females' lives, 1 in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape; more than half occurred before the woman was 18, and 22% before age 12 while during the males' lives, 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape; 75% occurred before the men were 18, and 48% before age 12. This is to show that sexual violence happens to anyone irrespective of their gender, sex, age, religion, income, abilities, profession, ethnicity, race and sexual orientation. However, inequalities heighten sexual violence in a place. That is, gender inequality tends to make a sex more vulnerable to sexual violence. Hence, women and girls contribute to a high percentage of victims of this violence in respect to the fact above.
Also, it is a known fact that most perpetrators of sexual violence are not strangers in respect to same fact sheet used above that says that people who sexually assault usually attack someone they know — a friend, classmate, neighbour, coworker, or relative. Of adults, 73% knew the attacker, 38% were friends of the attacker, 28% were an intimate partner of the attacker, and 7% were a relative of the attacker. Child victims knew the offender before the attack 90% of the time. About 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home. Another 20% occur in the home of the victims. If most perpetrators know the victims, isn't it clear that victims of sexual violence are not to blame for being victims?
Sexual violence is not a function of what the victim wears or does because it is an intentional act from the perpetrator. It is intentional because the perpetrator, abuser or assaulter conceives such an idea in their minds, hence, they carry out their plans on the victims they see in the neighborhood or around them. Force, threat or injury is the perpetrator's tool to winning the victim. Sadly, sexual violence is the least reported violence in the world.
Victims are not to blame for not speaking up because the environment is conditioned to blaming them for being victims. How sad! They blame them based on what they wear, why they are out at that time and what they are doing with the perpetrator!! Really? All forms of gender-based violence is intentional. It doesn't happen by mistake. You don't just see a girl walking and mistakenly grab her and rape her or mistakenly utter some insulting words on him based on his biological differences. Who does that? Is the person not mad? How could that have happened? How could you just see a girl dressed however she wants to and rape her because she's dressed like that? Let's be logical! You might have been feeding your mind on sex before you saw her or might have been fantasising about sex with her before you saw her. I mean this is logical. It's an intentional act. You purposely did it. And rape is not sex if it's violent using force, threat or an injury. You see? The victim is not to blame!
Other reasons why victims don't report sexual violent cases are fear of the perpetrators coming back at them, shame, embarrassment, failure to be believed by parents or loved ones and the likes. Hence, victims don't report this violence that prompts the scars in their hearts to still bleed.
If you have been a victim of sexual violence which one out of three women is a victim in respect to UN, it is important to know that it is not your fault. You are not at fault for being a victim of sexual violence. Hence, you shouldn't speak up to someone who'd blame you but report to a trusted person. It's high time parents and caregivers stopped blaming victims of sexual violence.
We'd be looking into some forms of sexual violence in the subsequent posts. Thanks for following.