No means ‘no’

Published On: July 31, 2019 12:30 AM NPT By: Giri Bahadur Sunar

Dressing in a sexually appealing way is not an invitation for sex. If a woman agrees to allow a man to pay for her food or drinks, it does not mean that she owes him sex

Sexual abuse and rape are reported frequently these days and many rape victims are incorrectly characterized. This is because many tend to think rape victims are at fault. Frequently, victims’ morals, including the way they dress, are questioned.  This is the notion that must be dismantled. 

Dressing in a sexually appealing way is not an invitation for sex. If a woman agrees to allow a man to pay for her food or drinks, it does not mean that she owes him sex. Sex is not an implied payback for meal or other expenses. Being in a man’s house, theater, park, party or asking for lift does not mean that a woman has agreed for sex.  Do not say a woman who gets raped deserves it. No one wants to be raped.

Having friendship with a man does not mean that she is seeking sex. Girls and women like to make friends because they feel comfortable and safe around men. Girls and boys can become good friends. They can hang out together and have fun. That does not mean they want sex. 

According to Nepal Police, 1623 rape cases were registered across the country in the first eight months of the Fiscal Year 2018/19. Likewise, approximately six and 185 rape cases per day and per month (respectively) were registered in Nepal Police. 

Any sexual activity without the consensus of both the parties involved amounts to rape. But immoral men have long been misinterpreting consent.  Then tend to believe that if a woman says ‘no’ to sex, she actually means ‘yes’ to it. Rapists invent rape myths and false stereotypes about “what women really want” to rationalize their sexually aggressive behavior.  This is animalistic, plain and simple. 

For ages, patriarchal society, through narratives, dramas, movies and fiction, has created the myth that rape is typically committed by psychopaths who are deviant. It’s not true. Rapists are among us. They could be classmates, co-workers, friends, neighbors, bosses, teachers, caretakers and close relatives. Girls and women are often raped by regular guys, not by the unknown or outsiders. 

A study on American police rape files from 1958 to 1960 found that half of the rape cases had been committed by men who knew their victims. It was called “acquaintance rape” in 1978 by feminist writer and activist Diana Russell. She used this phrase as an umbrella term to cover all rapes involving people who know one another in her write-up in which she reported that most of the victims had experienced rape or attempted rape by an acquaintance. 

Our own research shows that 66 percent of victims in Nepal never tell anyone about their rape experience or seek help because of family reputation. Many rape victims never reach out for the services and assistance they need in the aftermath of rape. When victims do step forward and report, they are often manipulated by their own family members and relatives to step back or they experience difficulty in receiving proper services from administrative authority. Most rape victims are blamed and demoralized by their own family members. 

“When I’m raped, people say that I’ve lost my honor. How did I lose my honor? My honor is not in my vagina. I’d like to tell everyone, why did you place your community’s honor in a woman’s vagina? It is the rapist who loses his honor,” said Kamala Bhasin, Indian feminist and activist. 

Violence against women by any one is always wrong, whether the abuser is someone she dates with, a family member, an acquaintance or a stranger. Girls or women do not cause the abuse to occur and they are not responsible for the violent behavior of men.

Break the silence  

Thus if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, seek help from other family members and friends or community organizations. Always get ready to reach out for support or counseling. Talk with a health care provider, especially if you have been physically hurt. Learn how to minimize your risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse before you find yourself in an uncomfortable or threatening situation.

Girls and boys should be taught at a young age that rape can come from anywhere and they should be careful of who they are with. I also suggest each girl to carry a whistle because if they find themselves in a difficult situation they can blow it until someone comes to protect them. I insist that girls and women should participate in and practice some self-defense skills to boost up their confidence level and to prevent themselves from unpredictable abuse and rape. 

Education and awareness programs related to policies and laws against rape can have a positive effect in encouraging men to become responsible. The whole community should work for this. Prevention is not just the responsibility of the potential victims but of all civilized men and society. Let all men be responsible and respect girls and women. Don’t wrongly interpret women’s relation with you. Real man does not rape women and girls but saves them.

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