Must Every Encounter End In Rape?
There’s no time you open any of the dailies without reports of rape in various degrading forms. A couple of weeks back, the story of a 16-year-old whose father’s friend constantly raped her and performed depraved sexual acts on her—without the parents suspecting a thing until she confided in her hapless dad after she’d been pushed to the wall.
On regular dates, women are constantly raped by boyfriends who think buying them a meal is an ‘open sesame’ to their privates! Some months back. Anita, a junior executive in a bank said she was on a third date with Emeka, a boyfriend she thought could eventually be ‘the one’ when she agreed to go with him to his flat after a cosy dinner. “He showed me around his flat,” she said, “ending up, of course, in his bedroom.
We sat on the bed, kissing and it was all very romantic at first until he pulled down the straps of the blouse I had on and grabbed my breasts. He then pushed me back so he was lying half on top of me, his face over mine with one hand on my breast, and the other one urgently groping me. He was going way too fast for me and I gripped his wrist, trying to push his hand away.
READ ALSO: Sad: Woman Narrates Her Rape Story
“Trying to be more emphatic, I told him, ‘no’ over and over again, as we struggled. But he laughed, moving his whole body on top of me. I froze with shock and humiliation as he entered me, in spite of my protest,I knew at this moment that I had a choice—I could scream, claw at his face and try harder to get him off me.
But I was confused, embarrassed and worried about what he would think. After all, I’d voluntarily gone with him to his bedroom, sat with him on his bed and kissed him. So I tried to make sense of his behaviour by telling myself that I should stop panicking. I knew I liked him, wasn’t exactly a virgin and would have slept with him as our romance deepened.
So I relented. But my best friend was appalled when I told her. “If you didn’t want s*x and you made this clear to him and he went ahead regardless, he raped you. You should have spat in his face then do damaging things to him down below!”
“But I didn’t do any of those things. Why? Because I never considered what Emeka did to be rape. Yes, he heard me say, ‘No,’ over and over, and chose to ignore it. But the way I see it. I had choices too. I could have been clearer. By screaming and swearing.
I’d have left him in no doubt that it was rape. But I didn’t, not because I was too terrified to speak, or because I thought he’d get violent, but because I was confused and insecure, I was needy of love. I thought if I forced him off, he’d hate me. Afterwards, instead of despising him, I was desperate to validate the s*x. We went out a couple of times more, but in the end, to my shame, he was the one who dumped me… .”
So what exactly is rape? Think of five words you associate with rape. “Violence or stranger will probably be among those words, says Dr. Anne Carpenter, a psychologist. “A rape that doesn’t fit this image is a lot harder to recognize. And, especially among younger women, there’s an instinct to self-blame —that you’ve encouraged or allowed it to happen and so it’s your fault of course, it is never the victim’s fault, but it makes it harder to re-organise the crime.
“The legal definition of rape is non-consensual penetrative s*x. In court, you have to prove certain things to get a rape conviction. That it was penetrative s*x, that it was non-consensual and that the man was aware the woman hadn’t consented. Submitting to s*x isn’t the same as consenting to s*x, so this is rape. But it would be unlikely that it would lead to a conviction, especially in the absence of independent evidence like violence, as it is so hard to prove.”
Typical Nigerian woman reaction, to this day. Anita believes that because she didn’t scream herself hoarse to stop it, she couldn’t really use the word “rape’. “Of course, a woman shouldn’t have to shout and claw at a man just to stop him having s*x with her.” She admitted, “but even after what I went through, the fact that I didn’t fight back makes me feel I’m not entitled to use the ‘rape’ word. The fact is at one time or the other, most women were all made to have s*x they didn’t want. Sometimes, it’s less painful to just give in than make them stop… .”
Recently, there’s been an outrage expressed by a couple of NGOs about wholesale rape in some female hostel. A group of men would just target a female hostel, brake in and have a field day raping and maiming its occupants and melting into the night. They are seldom caught and the few the law paraded don’t make it to court. Like Anita rightly pointed out. “The issue of consent, which is hard to prove, should be made irrelevant if rape is to be effectively prosecuted. It should be about the assault, if you can prove injury, either mental or emotional, as a result of s*x, then that should be enough….”
Do you agree with Anita? Have you been in a similar situation? Would you report being raped?