Dear Elsie,

Rape is quickly becoming a normal practice our communities. It is an all-too-common happening these days and we look on aloof. It is very dispiriting to know that such barbarism still lurks in our 21st century societies. I thought such savagery was far off behind . I thought it would stop being a problem we would refer to as “one of our problems” in our contemporary Ghanaian society. I thought man was too far gone in the bus of time to have this ferocity catch up with him. But I think I could never be more wrong. That there are people whose thought processes are clearly below that of the stone-age man in an epoch that is supposed to mark probably the highest form of civilisation leaves me addled.

Elsie, what in the name of desire would push a man to forcefully derive pleasure at the expense of someone else’s life and rights? We would probably need an entire field in psychology or maybe psychiatry to study this as a discipline  in order to understand the psyche behind this act. My heart is shredded into infinitesimal pieces as I write this and I believe I am in this with many others who came across the story of the 4-year-old who  was defiled in Assin Adadientem in the Central Region.  I am equal parts angry and sad about this atrocity.

The prevalence of this act is disturbing. Statistics provided by the Ghana Police Unit of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit in 2014, show that about 1, 296 girls in the country were defiled, while 335 women were raped. However, in 2016,  the Central Region alone recorded about 290 rape cases; a figure which is slightly lower than that of what was reported for women in the whole of Ghana in 2014.

How is this not cause for worry?

A more distressing fact is that the statistics above do not reflect the actual situation because many a time, rape victims cannot go public and report the crime because they are shamed and blamed for the crime upon reporting. This brings to mind a story I was tagged in in 2016 about a girl who was gang raped on her way back  from work. Sadly, she could not report the crime because she feared she was going to get some hellish responses from society for “being the cause of” getting raped. And the cause would be that she was either indecently dressed or she was out late. This leads me to my next point on the way our Ghanaian society encourages rape by always blaming the victim and not the rapist.

Our society has been too critical of rape victims on the unfounded belief that the way a girl is clothed is the cause of rape. This assertion bears no remote resemblance to what is the truth in the case of rape.

In a study conducted in South Africa in 2010, some of the men confessed that they carried out this act out of entitlement while others said they indulged in it to inflict punishment on girlfriends and other women or sometimes simply as entertainment. If we are to extrapolate these findings, then clearly, a person’s choice of clothing has absolutely zero influence in rape. And indeed people have been raped while the only “visible” thing on them was their voice. In fact, the little child who was raped, was it because she was indecently dressed? What does she even have on her body to even expose?

Umar MF corroborates this viewpoint in his article “What is to blame for Rape?” on Zangotude.com when he says:

  1. The victim is faultless in this act.
  2. Clothing has nought to do with rape.
  3. A girl’s behaviour influences this act in NO way.
  4. Beauty has absolutely zero to do with rape
  5. The victim’s location has nothing to do with rape.

Rape is an act only one person and absolutely one person is responsible for, and that is the RAPIST. No other person, whether clothed or naked, is responsible for this damnable act, save the one who feels entitled enough to satisfy his pleasure this way.

By linking people’s appearance to rape, we not only encourage the act, but also condemn these victims to perpetual psychological suffering.

Let’s not use rape to enforce modesty.

Let us teach boys and men how to keep their desires and pleasures in check.

Let’s not bully rape victims into silence.

Rape is an act we must condemn in all earnestness and ensure that the culprits are dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. These savages (rapists) need to be ousted from our present society and the one we would want to build for generations to come.

RAPISTS HAVE NO PLACE AMONG US.

My dear Elsie, until I write to you again next week, remember that I am working with other women and men to ensure you and your friends come to meet a rape-free society. I remain yours sincerely, Fathiya.

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