By Itoro Eze-Anaba
ONE of the biggest myths about rape and sexual violence is that it happens as a result of uncontrollable sexual desire. Being uncontrollable, the perpetrator cannot be held responsible for his actions. Therefore the survivor must have done something to be raped. Responsibility and blame are then shifted from the perpetrator to the survivor.
Rape is not about sexual desire as all humans have such desires but not all commit rape or sexual assault. It is not a crime of passion, where the perpetrator loses control. Many rapists are in a relationship where their sexual urges are satisfied. Sexual assault or rape is a choice that they make.
Rapists often plan their crimes, and in the case of children, groom them to gain their confidence and trust while waiting for an opportunity to strike. It is premeditated and over 70% cases of rape are planned in advance. When this happens, the rapist takes away any control the survivor has in that situation.
Rape happens in every society but it flourishes in an environment where there is violence, where women’s voices are not heard and where perpetrators walk away free because the law is not effective and law enforcement officers are unable to differentiate between their professional obligations and their personal biases.
This is even more difficult in a country like Nigeria where police officers are not equipped to tackle the menace of rape and sexual assault. Many police stations do not bother to document incidents of rape. Some policemen even take the bizarre route of mediating between the alleged perpetrator and the survivor.
Rape flourishes in many so called traditional societies where women are considered less than men. In these societies conscious efforts are made to control women’s bodies and men are raised with a feeling of entitlement that women are there to do their bidding.
That explains why we excuse and condone rape saying the rapist was desiring sex and just “took it too far”. In this way, we make the crime more acceptable and less severe.
Rape is also abetted by misogyny, which manifests in laws that discriminate against women, support cultural believes that women tempt men with their bodies, and believe that women do not have equal rights with men. Rape is about power and control. It is about violence. And rapists use their sex organs as weapons of violence. Rape is about making someone submit to your will. It is about power, anger and control. Sex is the weapon not the objective.