The Good God created man in his own image, so although man was not necessarily expected to be God and behave exactly like God, he was spiritually supposed to move along the path of God. Never mind this is not a Preacher man’s piece but the point is that in our daily doings, we go that far from the path of the supreme being and the irony is that our inhumanity is directed to man who we should all be perfecting. One fact in life is that if one person is not safe, we are all at risk. This brings me to the global scare over rape which is becoming unproportionately alarming in so many countries today.
Over the years, organizations working on humanitarian questions and civil society coalitions on human Rights have been highlighting the seriousness of sexual and gender- based violence and exploitation.
Some years back, there was even a National Committee on the issue with many others at local/ community levels trying to protect women and children from violations and abuse.
The situation of the relationship between male and female is like the case of the tales of hunting. Until lions have their own historians, the tales of hunting will always depict the hunter as a brave man. Transfer this to male female relationship and you will find out that until women are empowered whereby they have voice and space on decision making/ governance structure, until that happens, we will continue to live in a man’s world where women’s voices remain largely drowned under the depth of the lifeless Dead Sea in the Holy Land.
There are few laws here and there with protective pronouncements for our womenfolk, but tell me what is the use of a law if it is not going to be enforced? Look if you came to this world through a woman, then think hard on this. Remember the countless times that she sacrificed for you to be the happy guy that you are.
Just the other day, BBC ran a programme in which some research done came out with a list of countries where rape was on a very high rate. In the order of magnitude, the 5 top countries considered to have the highest cases of rape are: Afghanistan, DR Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia.
Even as I write, I hear a report of the scores of women who are raped in order to be accompanied across the desert in the search for some route to Europe in search of better life. I ask, do African migrants really have to risk their lives to get to Europe. Do not answer, just ponder… You see if we continue as Africans to make our countries so anti-life, our compatriots will continue to suffer and die, trying to go to other countries as illegal immigrants. Do Africans need to die like that? We are told that poor people spend 70% of their income on food. If this is so, then you can imagine what our mothers go through to make sure there is some food on the table that is if there is a table at all in all homes.
Why is it so difficult that we cannot embark on this journey of life hand in hand with women as equal partners? Why are we so engrossed with making ends meet and running against time and chasing shadows that they miss out on the little but valuable niceties of this wonderful life? Indeed like one mobile phone company says, we are better together. But oh, you might be thinking that it is easier to preach 10 sermons than to live one.
Why rape is put high on the world agenda is because issues adversely affecting women, in most cases do affect children. We might want to look at the Millennium Development Goals, and you’ll find out that there is so much to do with things related to women and children in the sense that women count a lot to help meet the MDGs.
At the moment, some 27 Midwives from Sierra Leone are in Johannesburg, South Africa attending an international conference of the International Midwives Association.
Whether you like it or not women have a very big role to play when it comes to addressing the Millennium Development Goals. The Midwives specifically have something like three to four MDGs. The act of rape helps to bring down the humanity of women folk and entrench the male dominance in almost every sphere of life in Africa.
Why do people rape? I must say that men who rape are either just been callous or downright ill, I mean some screws in their head must be loose for them to do it. One of the issues that exacerbate the preponderance of rape is culturally borne. Take the whole idea of the man having command and control over the woman. Culturally, even in love making the Cultural African holds sway. He decides the rules of the game.
Will tell you that the duck has blessings because she does not flint her man when they are making love unlike the chicken who gives the partner enough run for the money. Now with present trends where it is so easy to have a girl friend, is it necessary to rape? Of course no. Some people will say that girls and women of today dress carelessly in a very seductive manner.
But tell me if your mother dresses carelessly, will you rape her for that reason? If you can’t then you should not rape any woman. It is actually a weakness on your part.
Some couple of years back, South Africa and Kenya were very notorious for raping young girls. They will tell you that when you rape a young girl, you will be cured of AIDS. In Uganda they have what they call corrective rape. In this instance they justify the act by saying that they need to cure lesbians of their madness of sleeping with their fellow women.
In another country, I thing Kenya or DR Congo they have what they call courtship rape.
That is if you want to marry a girl, you rape her and then she automatically is given to you in wedlock. Such obnocious cultural and traditional thinking helps a lot to entrench the act of rape on defenseless women. Come on my man have you ever imagined what this world would look like without women? Generally what affects women, invariably affects children and you see how destructive you singular act of rape can threaten future generations? Do you see what I mean? There are scores of women today looking for partners and their chances are destroyed immediately they are raped. They will ever live with that thought which in many ways lowers their self esteem which every one needs so badly to be fulfilled as a human being.
We are told that girls account for over half of the 30 million children in Africa who do not attend school because of economic hardship or other adverse circumstances. So already, we have a host of very vulnerable girls floating all over Africa. These need support as they are the future leafers. Some will give birth to presidents and the like, but first of all they should be spared evil acts like rape.
We are looking forward to the day when our women are so empowered that no man will even imagine rape. This is where President Koroma’s bold proclamation of according women the 30% quota is a big shot in the arms of women activists who for over 10 years have been crying for this 30%. Some caution though whatever legislation is going to be put together, should in no way compromise capability. Shakespeare will tell you that to be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus. Indeed when our women are in Parliament, they will hopefully have the voice and space to enact laws that will dictate stiff penalties for those who rape.
I think civil society should actually work very hard to influence public policy so that we will have sound decision making on political, economic and social systems and institutions. But first of all, let us start with the cultural issues that encourage rape.
You never know the next person raped could be your own mother or sister. Let us don’t wait the international community to start putting us among countries with high rape prevalence.
By S. Beny SAM