WE live in a world where as a preventive measure, people are ceaselessly taught not to get raped instead of the don’t rape teaching and message. We tell women and girls what kinds of dress not to wear in order not to be ‘provocative’, we tell them to be passive, to not be dominant, to watch where and when they walk, to not lead men on, to not walk alone at night, to not walk through short cuts, to not drink too much, to not leave their open drinks anywhere and many such others dos and don’ts. In fact, we live in society that place the responsibility of preventing rape on potential victims and not on the victimizer and perpetrator. However, following the rape and murder of a UNIBEN student, Uwaila Vera Omojuwa, which is one of the many reported cases in recent times, there’s been a lot of new awareness campaigns and protests, aimed not at victims, as plenty of campaigns traditionally do —but squarely at potential offenders and perpetrators. The week-long protests across states aimed to demand justice, much as they emphasised the need to teach men what constitutes consent. With simple bold inscriptions on placards, images, and hashtags demanding capital punishments for rapists, the messages sought overall to address the epidemic, from the source—the perpetrators.
Now, the push to educate men is a necessary and powerful one. For one, reports have it that sexual assault is overwhelmingly against girls and women and it happens every few minutes with more than 90% carried out by someone known to the victim. These are mind boggling statistics, and they clearly locate the problem at the level of boys and men, such that helping men and boys understand that not saying no does not mean saying yes, and that a person who was not actively fighting you off could still be a person you’ve sexually assaulted, is a cause worth fighting for. Besides, the idea that the burden of preventing rape falls not just on the shoulders of potential victims is still a relatively new one; it is also the case that if we train boys not to grow up to become rapists, we prevent in essence rape as there would not be anyone to perpetrate the act.