A friend once shared a story with me. She told me about a girl who got raped in her apartment. However, when the girl made an attempt to give a report at the police station, she was shunned and discouraged by close friends and relatives.
“It will dent your image jare”.
“People will start treating you differently”.
“No man will want to marry you”.
These were some of the replies she got, and it totally discouraged her from speaking up. But really, would you blame them?
Our society is one where girls who are victims of rape are often seen as damaged goods. They go around with a burden of shame and stigma placed on them by others, and because it is a taboo to talk about it, they keep quiet, nurture their wounds in secret and try to move on.
Many girls are sexually abused by their fathers, brothers, uncles and other close relatives, and it is kept a secret because it is a “family matter”; and because the issue is never properly addressed, these girls grow up being bitter, insecure, sex averse, and many struggle with complex and self-esteem issues as well. Sadly, most of them go into prostitution, and many others battle with depression.
The societal narrative towards abuse is also too skewed towards victim shaming and blaming. A lady pays a guy a visit and ends up being sexually assaulted or raped by the guy, and the blame is placed on her.
“What was she doing alone with him?”
“Why was she dressed like that?”
“Why didn’t she stop him?”
“Why did she visit him at the first place?”
Comments like these are made, and while the perpetrator of the act takes pride in what he had done, the victim is blamed. What it does is that it provides the perpetrator with justifications for the abuse, and gives other potential perpetrators reasons to believe they can also get away with doing same.
Ours is a society where girls are taught that whatever happens to them in the hands of a man is her fault. I once had such similar experience. It was around 2012. I was 15, still fresh from high school and awaiting my admission into the university.
Ann Fina studied Law at the prestigious Ebonyi State University, Abakiliki. She loves to write. She can be reached on facebook via her name – Ann Fina