Lest We Trivialise Rape

About two weeks ago, one of Nigerian’s most dedicated anti-rape activists, Itoro Eze-Anaba, made history when she became the first Nigerian to receive the Commonwealth Point of Light Award from Queen Elizabeth 11 of England.
For those who are not conversant with Eze-Anaba and her activities, I will do a recap here.

In July 1, 2013, she and her team opened the Mirabel Centre in Lagos, the first Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Nigeria. Between then and now, they have helped over 3100 rape victims.

For these victims the Mirable Centre provides free medical examination and treatment by trained forensic examiners for illness and injuries caused by the assault, counseling, pregnancy and other tests associated with rape. These and all their other services come free.

Eze-Anaba and her team not only provide succour where it’s most sorely needed, their activities remind many of us daily of the evil nature of rape and also why everyone of us must continue to play their part in ensuring that we build a society where no one shall ever live in fear of sexual violence.

But we can only succeed here when everyone and I mean EVERYONE understands truly what rape is and what it CERTAINLY not is.

Make no mistake about it, NO means NO, and will always mean NO. But when we start discussing issues of when YES can now safely change to NO and perhaps, even change again to YES, while lying down, then we have started creating a world of so many possibilities which, like a whirlwind, will blow nobody any good.

Why on earth would anyone want to complicate, what seems to me, a straightforward affair, to the point where parents may begin to teach their male children bedroom negotiation skills for their survival?  At what point should he accept, for instance, that YES is YES and not merely inches away from NO?

I also believe strongly that this what you get when sex comes as a purely recreational activity, powered majorly by unadulterated lust. Yes, that’s what you get when you share intimacy with another – whether spouse or not is irrelevant here – without genuine love and affection.

Once that happens, selfishness, greed and finally, over dramatization of consent become the order of the day.

We live in a society where the phrase, ‘strange bedfellows’ is now more literal than figurative. Ours has become a society where people get under the sheets with others, whose sexual habits and preferences are completely unknown to them. And then, when midway during the act, their fantasy begins to assume all the colours of a nightmare they turn around to shout rape, banking on our collective mob mentality to crucify their partner even without listening to his own side of the story.

Then we all gather on every social media platform, with enough stones to build the Taj Mahal all over again to throw at the supposed villain who has violated our ‘princess’.

We call him out at every opportunity, chanting, “NO means NO”, like deranged Ifa priests until we have destroyed him completely. Then we march away, satisfied that yet another ‘enemy’ has been vanquished after teaching him the lesson of a lifetime.

But the ‘princess’? Oh, you dare not question what part of YES she didn’t understand when the journey began.

No, she is always beyond reproach because the man must exercise self-control at any time so that our ‘princess’ can turn him on or off like a light bulb switch.

But why must it become your life goal to teach any man self-control? Are you his mother?

How about protecting yourself from the harm’s way, ab initio, by exercising more self-control and getting to know the other person a bit better before jumping into bed with them?

Yes, we all know what the law says about RAPE and CONSENT but why won’t you apply the same common sense (please not Senator Ben Bruce brand o), when locking your house gate as you leave home in the morning or as you go to sleep at night here?

Whoever among us would leave his property unprotected simply because there is a law against stealing?

We all do due diligence before transacting any type of business with another party but when it comes to sexual relations, gross negligence and total lack of common sense take the centre stage.

Remember the proverbial boy who cried wolf when there was none in sight? Good. Believe me, if we did not expressly address these issues and all the grey lines in between now, irreparable harm will not only be done to the two parties, the real lines between sexual assault and sexual pranks  may become so blurred that real victims may one day  find themselves totally abandoned to whatever threatens them.

May such a time remain light years away from us all and it’s our collective responsibility to ensure it!

Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe

Written by Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe

Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe is the Editor of TheInterview Abuja. She's worked as a journalist at The Punch Newspapers and also The LEADERSHIP Newspapers, where she rose to become the Editorial Director.