On Rape And Indecent Dressing

There’s an alarming rate of rape and sexual assault of women in our society, despite efforts by authorities to curb the menace.

Just the other day, I read with teary eyes how a 14-year-old girl was gang-raped by four men in Lagos. Four grown-ass men. Imagine being raped at such a young age. Imagine the physical and psychological trauma that she has been subjected to. Her life upended even before it begins. It’ll take the grace of God, the love and care of family and friends for her to get over what has been done to her if she ever gets over it.

Her case is not in isolation. There’re several similar and equally heart-rending, soul-crushing rape tales. From the lady who was sexually harassed by street touts for wearing a bum short to the market. To the little girl who was abducted and turned into a sex slave by a neighbor. Did I mention she is only 13? And he has been sleeping with her for years before he eventually decided to damn the consequences and abduct her?

These rape tales are heartbreaking. But even more heartbreaking is the fact that some people justify rape by blaming and shaming the victims.

Rape and indecent dressing
There’s this narrative that has been going on in our society for decades about victims of rape. Many believe that when a woman dresses indecently, she tends to attract castrated nincompoops who take advantage of her. So, according to these people, women need to dress decently at all times if they don’t want to be raped.

But here is the thing, according to research, one in four rapes take place in the victim’s house; two in 10 rape cases take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relatives. And almost two-thirds of all rape offenses are committed by someone the victim already knows. Children from 0-14 are among rape victims, and so are elderly women. Once I read that an 85-year-old woman was raped while she was sleeping in her house. Apparently, the rapist broke into the house through the window and grabbed her.

So, if we’re to excuse the touts for harassing a lady in public by blaming her for wearing a bum short, do we also excuse the man who grouped his neighbor’s 4-year-old daughter and forcefully raped her by blaming the parents for not watchdogging her? Or do we excuse the man who raped the 85-year-old woman while she was sleeping in her house by blaming her for not securing her home properly?

The idea that indecent dressing can lead to rape is laughable because even Muslim women, who are typically covered from head-to-toe, get raped and sexually assaulted. I was sexually molested and almost raped by a man I knew too well and even considered a friend. I wasn’t indecently dressed, there was nothing in me that invited the rapist. He just picked on me because I was vulnerable at the time.

As much as I agree that indecent dressing is wrong, and we shouldn’t be afraid to call it out if we want, saying indecent dressing is one of the causes of rape sound very ridiculous and dumb. Every woman has the right to put on whatever without the fear of being raped or sexually harassed.

Indecent dressing has nothing, I mean absolutely nothing to do with rape. Rapists do what they do for many reasons but spotting an indecently dressed woman isn’t one of them. And society needs to stop pushing this narrative. We, as a people need to do better by calling out rape for what is it: a grievous crime that has been committed against the victim and it’s not because of what she wore, did, or said. There’s no excuse neither is there ever an invitation for rape.

Carol Costello, a 55-year-old American television anchor, once said on her show: “A rapist is a violent criminal who craves complete power over his victim. He gets a sexual urge and sometimes he doesn’t. It has little or nothing to do with what a woman looks like and everything to do with violent, criminal tendencies.”

Rather than shaming and blaming the victims of rape, rapists should be made to take responsibility for their actions if we are truly serious about eradicating the menace.

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