We have a problem on our hands that is these things called “Rape myths”. These myths are different assumptions about rape, many myths are completely and blatantly untrue. Misinformation is spreading around the Kenyan society about sexual violence and people are affected by it. Although many might say, ‘I don’t believe those myths’. These myths are common and affect survivors of sexual violence. The myths affect the behavior, indeed the effectiveness, of friends, family, social and medical services and law enforcement. These myths it contributes to a social norm that is accepting rape as normal, humorous and that some victims deserve to be raped.
Because of this we must set the record straight regarding these myths, and the best way to do that is to confront them honestly.
- If a woman wears tight, revealing clothes, she wants sex.
False. Sex without consent is rape, no matter what the circumstances. A woman can wear what she wants and that is no excuse rape the woman. #mydressmychoice
- When a lady works late at night in the office /or is in the office late with a male colleague- she wants to be raped and it is her fault that she is raped
False. No one wants to be raped. One should be able to work anywhere at any time and no one should use time or place as an excuse for rape
- When a woman says ‘no’, she means ‘yes’
False. When a woman says ‘no’, she means ‘no’.
- Women above the age of 18 cannot claim that they were raped: They are old enough to fight and defend themselves. Only children can be raped or defiled
False. Often a woman cannot do anything to stop a rape from happening, irrespective of her age. Faced with the reality of rape, women make second by second decisions, all of which are directed at minimizing the harm done to them. At the point where initial resistance, struggling, reasoning etc. have failed, the fear of further violence often limits women’s physical resistance. The only form of control that seems available to women at this point is limiting the harm done to them. Many victims of sexual violence describe themselves as freezing or being paralyzed with shock and/or fear.
- If a woman gets drunk and/or takes drugs, she is inviting rape and/or ‘asking for it’
False. If a person is unconscious or their judgment is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, they are legally unable to give consent. Having non-consensual sex with a person who is intoxicated is rape.
- Sex workers cannot be raped
False. Sex workers also have to consent to sex. Sex workers have the right to refuse sex as much as anyone else. They choose with whom they do business and are paid for consensual sex, not rape!
- If a woman is out at night or goes to an unsafe area (e.g. a bad neighbourhood or bar) she is ‘inviting rape’. Women should not go out alone, especially at night
False. Rape can take place anywhere, including in the home.
- Women often lie or make up stories about being raped to get revenge, for their own benefit or to ‘frame’ men
People lie about all crimes, not just rape. The number of people who do lie about being a victim of a sexual assault is very small. For anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted, whether or not to report this to the police is a difficult decision. A majority of victims decide not to report incidences of sexual assault because they fear they will not be believed.
- It is not rape if the women has given her consent to have sex with the man on a previous occasion
False. Both people need to consent to sex every time. If a woman consents to sex once, that does not mean the man has a right to have sex with her anytime he pleases.
- Once a man is sexually excited/aroused, he cannot stop himself
False. The majority of rapes are premeditated (i.e. either fully or partly planned in advance). Rapes committed by more than one perpetrator (i.e. gang rapes) are always planned. Rape is not about relieving sexual desire; it is an act of violence, not sexual gratification.
Both men and women sometimes get excited/aroused and want this to lead to sex, but we all have control over our bodies and can choose to stop and wait for these feeling to subside. A rapist chooses not to stop.
- Women eventually relax and enjoy it. They secretly want to be raped.
False. No one wants to be raped and no one enjoys getting raped. Victims of murder, robbery and/or other crimes are not portrayed as enjoying the experience either.
- Because I bought her drinks/clothes / a car/ bling bling she MUST pay back by having sex with me.
False. As long as there is no consent, that is rape.
Now that we have confronted these myths, we can firmly say there are no excuses for rape. We have to ask ourselves: why are we teaching women that it is their fault if they get raped when we should be teaching persons not to rape? Rape is should never be normal, humorous or a victims fault. It is important to set the records straight on the assumptions, and spread awareness.
Christina Malmgren – AGCP