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Tokunbo Olabode: [rejoinder] On rape: No, the woman is not to blame

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Tokunbo Olabode: [rejoinder] On rape: No, the woman is not to blame

by Tokunbo Olabode

So I scrolled through my Twitter timeline to behold tweets regarding the controversial Abigail Anaba piece on rape which I did not read until much later when I actually formed my opinions and decided to do a retort. While reading the post I went through a whole raft of emotions, from thinly disguised disbelief to leg flicking irritation.

Her blog post elicited a convoluted range of emotional rage which ended with a befuddled surprise especially after I realised this was written by a woman who should normally empathise, sympathise with and understand every strand of emotion governing a female being both internally and externally especially when emotions are concerned.

READ: Abigail Anaba: Rape: Is The Woman Ever To Blame?

I learnt early in life that the act of sexual intercourse is much more impacting on the woman emotionally and psychologically, while to a man it is simply a physical release or activity. This might seem pedestrian but it speaks of most decisions a female makes, even while caught up in the throes of passion compared to a male. This is an instructive point to highlight because of the perceived misconceptions many seem to have in our society and which Abigail failed to highlight  in her article.

Having stated all this however, I will resist the instantaneous reaction of simply condemning her and do a dispassionate and objective retort to her ill conceived sanctimonious diatribe.

I am a man but even I know a woman has an absolute and inalienable right at every stage of foreplay leading up to sexual congress to say NO.

I know a woman’s dressing,conduct, moral precedence has absolutely no bearing nor justification on her being raped or sexually molested.

Without going into a long drawn out and boring explanation, the central issue which should take precedence over all others is a term I will borrow from the business world called “Concept of Ownership.” This normally relates to ownership of property either intellectually or in which ever form. However used in the present context the concept of ownership states that the individual i.e. the woman owns every part of her body, she decides what to do and when to do anything with the body and at any point in time. She can sleep with a 100 men the day before and then meet the most handsome and wealthy man the next day, start foreplay with him and then decide she does not want to have sex with him. It is her body and she has a right to say NO.

To be fair to Abigail, she did a fairly creditable job of accentuating some broad issues cutting across societal moral conducts, and the importance of having clear cut agreements as it were with the opposite sex to avoid landing in certain situations. However she ended up throwing out an absurd and convoluted mixture of  contradictory propositions which to me flies in the face of common sense much less social debate about rape.

It is a problematic social hypothesis to demarcate rapists. Even if I were open to tolerating her thesis, it is not backed by any scientific, peer review or generally accepted cerebral findings so where or what informed her absurd theory?

We should simply see rape as a serious felony hence collectively strive to put pressure on relevant law enforcement agents to prosecute perpetrators. When we start making ambiguous demarcations and justifications concerning rapists, putting them in different categories we are unearthing potential social and even legal pandora’s box and legal minefields which will invariably serve to further place an added burden on an already traumatised rape victim.

When we start to outline certain instances concerning rape, we are giving perpetrators a potential legal shade to hide under in preventing their prosecution. Apart from this, an already traumatised victim has to now prove in the court of public opinion and legal minds in court that she has not instigated, encouraged or even indirectly participated in the supposed rape on herself.

Going by the implied arguments in the blog post if she is found to dress a certain way which does not conform to societal acceptance, if she is discovered to behave in a flirtatious way with the opposite sex this alludes that effectively she does not have a leg to stand on hence deserves to be raped.

Abigail also used different instances all towards accentuating the fact that basically the woman’s dressing, conduct, behaviour is somehow indicative or a red herring to a potential rapist. If we start going down this route where exactly do we as a society pull the brakes?

Are female babies somehow responsible for being molested by perpetrators? Should we conclude then that a prostitute or runs girl has no right to justice if she is raped?

While her intentions might be honourable in trying to shed more light on rape, it is patently unhelpful if in the process of doing so she is causing more harm than good.

Permit me to stridently insist that the main and guiding focus concerning this issue must be education and enlightenment on societal perceptions of rape and what constitutes it, including the concept of boundaries and respecting it .We must resist the temptation of using cultural; societal; religious justifications to excuse rapists.

We must continue to highlight based on the concept of ownership used in a purely social construct, an individual in this case a female wholly owns her body, and has an inalienable and absolute right to say an emphatic NO at every point of foreplay or prelude to sexual congress.

Let us be honest, ecclesiastical apartheid which is clearly a thread and perception running through Abigail’s blog post is a big problem and which we must divest ourselves as a society from.

Male dominated patriarchal; societal;cultural and traditional perceptions have also served to perpetuate and encourage similar allusions made in her article which we must throw down the gauntlet and prevent from further disenfranchising victims of rape.

A society is judged and regarded by the way it treats the vulnerable and maligned, first of which are children and women.We must divest of these unhelpful archaic and unhelpful mindset and collectively confront isolate and effectively deal with the issue.

Rape cannot, should not under any circumstance nor justification be accepted nor excused. If a woman says NO, a man has the free and unencumbered choice to stop irrespective. This should be the all encompassing mindset regarding rape.

– Follow this writer on Twitter: @bunmola2010

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