For Caroline

“When it comes to sexual assault nobody says, ‘Hey men shouldn’t drink.’ It’s always about women changing their behaviour & dressing differently. Why can’t we hold men accountable for their behaviour?” Jon Stewart.

I thought she was going to die. The way she sobbed, I was sure she was going to weep herself to death. I’ve been to funerals but never have I ever seen grief so deep that even her whole body, not just her eyes, wept too. Curled in a fetal position as if to shield herself from more harm, sobs racked her body & it was painful to witness. Hi

Her name is Caroline (not actual name) & she’d been raped by her brother’s boss.

I was going to post something totally different today, then this happened & I felt obligated to put my original post on hold, write this quickly & post it because something needs to be said. Someone has to stand up for this girl because it certainly isn’t going to be those that should i.e. police & friends who seemed to be so mired within rape culture that they fumbled the entire interview considerably.

The female detective was the biggest culprit. She was so clumsy in her enquiry I wondered how she had ever achieved her rank. She kept asking Caroline why she had taken so much alcohol at the office party that her brother, Arthur (not real name) had invited her to & why she had opted to wear such a revealing dress. She would throw out careless remarks such as, “Ekibi abawala enaku zino mwambala bubi atte ne munywa nyo kyoka omusajja bwabakwata nemwekabya.” Which translated in English means the problem with girls nowadays is we dress up so provocatively & drink too much then throw tantrums when men sexually assault us.

Adding insult to injury was one of Arthur’s (Caroline’s brother) friends who kept insinuating that this was so unlike their boss. That he must have been too inebriated with alcohol to behave so out of character. The cherry on top was when the incompetent detective started nodding her head to what this fool was saying & together they actually had the guts to ask Caroline if this couldn’t be handled through mediation, instead of criminal procedure. This country!

Rape culture at its finest. Blaming the victim for being drunk & dressing provocatively while at the same time defending the attacker saying he was drunk. Nice. Might as well have said boys will be boys.

The pervasiveness of sexual assault by media, social ideas, institutional tolerance & culture that normalise, trivialise & mitigate sexual assault to blame the victim is what rape culture is all about. Victims are doubted, shamed & harassed which explains why only about a third of rape cases is ever reported.

The scope at which society is so warped that it’s got its priorities backwards especially when it comes to protecting the female body, is staggering. As girls, we are raised to be wary of men,to avoid walking alone in lonely places especially in the dark, to dress in such a way that we don’t arouse men’s massive sexual appetites, not to let them touch us in a certain way et cetera et cetera. And I get it. They are trying to look out for us in this very unsafe world. Gotta respect that.

My problem comes in when boys are not raised with the same attitude. To understand that no means no & forcing your unwanted attentions on an unwilling female is not just frowned upon, but found repulsive.

Honestly if you would instruct your daughter about caution then you would surely teach your son about consent. In the long run, this would make the world a safer place for girls than any caution ever could. Teaching girls to be careful not to get a sexually assaulted yet failing to teach boys not to rape is gross negligence on society’s part. Is masculinity so fragile & delicate that we deem it more important to train girls to reject boys politely than it is to train boys to accept rejection with dignity?

Dress codes are one of the things perpetuating rape culture the most. Telling women that they were asking for it by the tightness of their top or the length of the slit on the side of their dress is bogus. Months old babies get defiled all the time & so do Arab women wearing burqas which cover their entire body, were they asking for it too? I’ll have you know that rape by definition cannot be asked for. It’s defined as unlawful sexual activity, usually sexual intercourse, carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will, usually of a female or with an underage person or person incapable of valid consent.

So how in the world is a woman asking for it just because you find her skirt too revealing? It’s a thing of power & violence so quit telling boys that the length of a girl’s skirt is to blame for his lack self control. Our clothes do not determine our consent. Clothes do not come into this. Hell if they did, I’ve watched the old Christian movies & those men that crucified Jesus had skirts so short, they would make Rihanna proud. Yet somehow women managed not to rape them. Like I said, clothes have no bearing here.

We need to raise our sons with the understanding that: Stop OR Turning away OR I don’t want to OR Shoving you away OR Leave me alone OR I’m not ready OR I don’t feel like it OR Being drunk/ drugged OR Get away OR Screaming OR Don’t OR Crying; are all indications of lack of consent. Also if you make me afraid to say no i.e. you are my superior, lecturer, boss, I owe you, I need a favour from you, you threaten me; it’s not consent. Our boys need to learn from a very early age that only a sober, firm, uninfluenced “Yes” is consent.

Stop victim shaming, blaming & finding excuses for men. Let’s apportion blame where it lies. At the feet of the rapists. Women don’t get raped because they were drunk or took drugs or not careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them. Rape is only the woman’s fault when she’s the rapist.

Caroline should know that it was not her fault. That she didn’t deserve it. And that they are those of us among her friends that will be here to support her get through this. It was ugly, traumatic & God only knows what else. I am deeply sorry it happened to you & I pray the scars he left on your soul don’t define you eternally.

I stand with you Caroline & with all the other victims out there who may or may not have come forward. For all the Carolines out there, this is for you.