Following the online trend on sexual assault in Nigeria, most people ask questions similar to the headline. We all know the story. A popular clergyman named Biodun Fatoyinbo was accused of rape by Busola Dakolo, the wife of Timi Dakolo, a musician in Nigeria. This incident happened about 20 years ago and just last week, the victim of a 20-year assault spoke up. Sadly, the accused perpetrator is a known pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, COZA.
People ask questions like, what does she want? Why did she speak up now that the man is popular? Why didn't she speak up when the incident happened? The man is a changed man, he doesn't deserve it, does he? How pathetic! I don't know if those questions are the right questions we should ask but those questions are as a result of rape culture or still, they promote rape culture.
Rape culture is an environment where rape is prevalent and sexual violence against women is normalised and excused in the media and popular culture. That is, rape culture objectifies girls and women mostly and makes them feel less of themselves and less a human and it also makes them vulnerable to being victims. It promotes victim-blaming rather than justification. Therefore, the questions we should be asking are not questions that support this culture.
A victim of sexual assault, rape, especially wouldn't literally open up to anyone. At least, not in Nigeria. I'd explain. An average Nigerian parent has a way of referring back to a child's mistake or problem when they are offended or aggravated by their children. Therefore, a victim of rape wouldn't even think of speaking up to an average Nigerian parent or guardian. Most importantly, victims of sexual violence are victim-blamed. They are blamed for being victims of rape. How wise could that get? If you were the one, would you have spoken up?
Also, the parent or guardian is likely to restrict the victim from participating in activities or going out. Also, they might show too much pity that would irk the victims of sexual violence. Victims of such violence don't want to be pitied! Pity makes them feel bad or worse for being a victim. It only makes them feel worse. Therefore, to avoid feeling bad or worse, they keep it to themselves. They want justification not pity or reference to the situation. Hence, a victim might find it hard to speak up because the environment is not conducive.
For this cause, one of the questions you should ask regarding the rape saga is, was the ambience favourable enough for Busola to speak up when she was assaulted? Would she have been heard? Wouldn't she have been blamed? Really, until we create an atmosphere suitable enough for sexual assault victims to be heard, victims wouldn't speak up. They would keep it to themselves because of the existing environment-- victim-blaming. And that is not healthy. Nursing the pain and all breaks the victim until they speak up. Therefore, if the environment was conducive enough, that is, she wouldn't be blamed and there would be justification, she would have spoken up at that time!
Back to the question, what does she want? Isn't that absurd? Isn't it clear that she wants justification now that she is bold enough to tell her story? Isn't it clear that she wants to relieve herself of the burden she has been carrying all these years now that she has attained a status that she could be heard? Isn't it clear that she wants to give voice to those who have lost their voices to victim-blaming and threats? Isn't it clear she wants to end this trend?
Interestingly, males are now careful. I mean they are careful of how they interact with the females which is just the best thing to do. Isn't it high time we started respecting one another? You don't take advantage of a woman because she's not as strong as you are which is as a result of biological differences! That is not right. She's as human as you are and she is entitled to the same fundamental human rights you are entitled to, so, what is the problem? Why would you see a woman as one who is not human?
Imagine a world where victims are not blamed for being victims but perpetrators are being brought to book, wouldn't rape become dinosaurs? Imagine a situation where there is justification for sexual assault, wouldn't the environment be safe for the females as well? Sadly, victim-blaming has done more harm than good to the society. That is, girls are not safe out there because once they are outside there and it's late, anything that happens is their fault. My question is, what about the boys? What are they doing out late as well? Why would they forcefully have sex with someone because they are girls? How is that related to biological differences? Do you understand my point?
Victim-blaming is a culture which must be restructured. Creating a safe world for both sexes begins with eradicating victim-blaming. It begins with blaming perpetrators and giving them what they deserve because rape is not sex. It's not consensual, hence, it's wrong! The consequences must follow. It might tarry but it will surely come to pass, especially now that victims are giving opportunities to share their stories.
Don't you ever assume consent. Ask what you want always. And yes, there is no perfect time to speak up due to the conditions. It might be when you are already successful and all, hence, don't you try that. Don't rape! Just ask.