I was very young, probably five years old, when my mother told me not to sit on men’s laps and be mindful of what I wore and how I behaved when men were around. She told me I didn’t have to put myself in a situation where I could be raped.
I was in class three when I accidentally joined a seminar for older kids (class six and above) on what to do when you find yourself with someone who wants to rape you. When you realise that shouting alone can’t save you. They weren’t foolproof plans, but they increased your chances of escape.
I was in SHS two when my close friend told me she’d been raped multiple times throughout her childhood. I knew people got raped, I just didn’t know anyone. I was devastated. I could not begin to imagine how it was for her and the strength it took to confide in me.
I was in SHS three when she told her mother. She was blamed for her trauma. She was told that she was a liar and just wanted to destroy the family because her rapist was a member of the family. Her mother. Hm.
I was in my second year in uni when I understood that it’s not only rape that’s wrong. The groping, the words, the looks, the way people got into my personal space, the way I had to laugh to get away from people who made me uncomfortable…
By then, it was too late. I was always on high alert. I had also understood that my mother, with her best intentions, was wrong. It had nothing to do with what I wore or how I acted. [Some] Men were just dangerous people. They took advantage of women and situations to get what they wanted. No woman is safe.
I was in my third year in uni when I realised that I was scared of the outdoors. I was scared everytime some man came close to me. Sometimes, I flinched, other times, I just stopped and waited for them to pass by.
I am a night owl. I like to run my errands or just take a walk after sunset. I couldn’t do that. Men. Men were outside at night and men were the only eyewitnesses when things happened. In a world where men are judge, jury and executioner, I’d rather not be anywhere near the accused stand.
I was in my final year when a man threw a drink at me for yelling at him to leave me alone. It was in broad daylight. There were people around. Nothing was done about it.
I was an entry-level worker when I had to avoid certain offices because certain men were harassing me and other men couldn’t get involved because they felt I needed to speak up myself. They didn’t want to look “some type of way” in front of other men.
This year, I learned that it’s not just the men in a certain neighbourhood or in a certain country. They are everywhere. This year, I’ve learned that a lot of situations I’ve been in and actively brushed away were sexual harassments. Everytime I see a #MeToo story, I can relate to it. Either because I know someone, or the someone is me. And it’s not fair.
What did the woman ever do to be treated like that? And the scary part is, a number of people in society end up making women feel like they brought it on themselves. Now, other women, who were probably trained to think this way, are training other women in this same manner.
Rape culture is not just “a thing”. It is a culture that needs to be abolished. Not just with the new generation, but with the old too.
If you think your family will be destroyed if you spoke about an uncle who raped his niece, or a brother who fondled his sister (however indirect the relation is), just know that the moment it happened, your family dynamic changed. The whole safety of family and home, is destroyed for the victim. And if you refuse to talk about it for the fear of stepping on some familial toes, then your family is more messed up than imaginable. Every moment you stay quiet, a part of a beautiful soul is lost forever.
So let’s start here. Let’s not ask for proof or victim blame everytime a person has the courage to come forward. For every liar, there are a lot of heartbroken people telling the truth.
We must also sanction liars. People who think it’s okay to take advantage of such a sensitive thing for their evil ways should be punished. Severely. They should be given the same harsh sanctions as should be given an abuser.
It’s a crazy world we live in. It’s up to us to make it less so. I pray you have a blessed and productive week.
Nana Agyeiwaa Nyameba
P. S. I would like to (re-)introduce you to Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. I hope your heart enjoys it like mine does 💜