Dear Nigerians, This is Rape Culture!
Following the publicization of yet another rape-cum-murder case in Nigeria, it is clear that many Nigerians are still uninformed about rape culture and how it is responsible for some of the most gut-wrenching injustices that plague our nation. What follows is a breakdown of rape culture and how it is enabled.
What is Rape Culture?
Rape culture is used to describe any culture or community where major social behaviors, beliefs, norms, attitudes, and practices, downplay, normalize, underrate, excuse, or condone sexual violence and abuse. Rape culture is largely rooted in patriarchy, and since Nigeria is patriarchal, it is not surprising that it’s embedded in our day to day practices.
Things Nigerians think, do, and say to enable rape culture
Assuming that rape can be solved by improving the behavior of potential rape victims rather than improving the thinking and behaviors of potential rapists.
Assuming that men can’t be raped or that only ‘weak’ men can be raped.
When you blame the victim. This includes questions like, what were you doing there? Why were you there? What were you wearing?
Classification of rape into ‘real rape’ and ‘assumed rape’, with ‘real’ rape being a forced attack by a male stranger, on a female who has not been drinking, and/or acting, dressing, or speaking in a sexual manner.
Tolerating and downplaying sexual harassment.
Thinking that it is okay for a man to forcibly have sex with (rape) his wife. This promotes the damaging belief that a woman is nothing but an object of pleasure who has no right to consensual sex.
Blaming a woman for her husband’s cheating. In doing this, you are saying that she indirectly caused him to be tempted either by denying him sex or by losing her appeal. You not only absolve the man of blame, responsibility, accountability but reiterate the believe that her sole purpose is his pleasure.
Labelling maids, nannies, and house girls ‘seductresses’, when their ‘oga’ sexually violates or abuses them. In this case, you don’t just enable rape, you are an accomplice!
Asking victims to forgive and forget without any concrete action towards punishing their attackers
Blaming the devil, when you do this, you are absolving the attacker of their crime.
Believing that a woman’s body and sexuality should be policed, regulated, and dictated by anyone but her.
Equating or attaching a person’s worth to their sexual experiences.
Objectification of women’s and men’s bodies.
Using misogynistic language.
Making and enjoying sexually explicit/degrading jokes.
Believing that ‘Boys will be boys.’ This encourages a generation of men who believe that irresponsibility, a lack of self-control, and the disrespect of the female human, are all intrinsic masculine traits.
Defining Masculinity as dominant and sexually aggressive.
Defining Femininity as submissive and passive.
Inflating fake report statistics.
Refusing to take rape and sexual abuse seriously.
Believing that only promiscuous people are raped or abused.
From the above, it is clear that rape culture may be something you are perpetrating and promoting and like many other things which are learned subconsciously, it must be diligently and carefully unpacked. This must be done in order to tear down the culture of oppression and violence which thrives in our country. To erase Nigeria's rape culture, we must be willing to embrace discomfort by first recognizing the roles we have played and pledging to actively do better.
Written by Pearl Azu-Okeke
Founder, Consent Haven