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The Awazi: On Consent, Sexual Harassment & Rape

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Rape is a horrible thing. The general idea is that you’re a bad person if you rape someone. And if you’re raped, you are “finished.”

There was and still is so much stigma attached to rape, so growing up, we did all we could to avoid it happening to us. And by us, I mean women.

We wore longer and less revealing clothes. We avoided dark areas in the neighbourhood. We escorted each other to places. We couldn’t be caught dead outside the home after a certain time. Sometimes, even walking styles and body shapes were said to be an invitation to rape.

There were many unwritten rules we lived by and many precautionary measures we were taught to take to avoid rape, almost like we had a major chunk of our lives moulded around it. On the other hand, the boys were fine, as long as they didn’t join gangs.

For something that happens so frequently in our society, it’s surprising to find that so many of us don’t even know what rape really is and cannot identify when it happens. Our idea of what rape is is violent, in the dark, with accompanying punches, screams and struggling. People imagine torn clothes, blood and tears. Or maybe when a baby is raped; it is, after all, how all Nollywood movies describe rape.

Sadly, anything that happens outside the description above is still not considered as rape by the general populace. Our society sees sexual assault (excluding the description above) as a norm. It’s either a “normal thing guys do,” or something that happens to only women who are “loose.”

The hard truth of the matter is that most women have been raped or harassed without even realizing that it was rape or sexual harassment, because they’ve been taught that it’s “a normal thing.”

For the sake of clarity, we need to establish what rape and other related terms really mean.

A quick Google search says that rape is a type of sexual assault involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent.

Consent, on the other hand, is permission for something to happen or an agreement to do something. Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. When someone does something voluntarily it means they’re doing it out of their own free will not because they don’t have a better choice.

Consensual sex happens when both parties (of a legally consenting age of course, which according to the law in Nigeria is 18) willingly consent to whatever sexual act they are performing.

Now that we’ve established the meaning of these things, if we allow ourselves an honest moment of reflection, we’d see that many of the things we thought normal or one of the ways to “toast” a girl for sex were just manipulation and coercion e.g. guys locking the door to the room and hiding the key while pleading with the girl to allow him to have sex with her even if it is “just the tip.”

We cannot feign ignorance to these things so it’s important we have the following things in mind:

  • If you have to force anybody to do anything sexual with you, you are wrong.
  • If you keep begging, guilt-tripping and manipulating or threatening someone with violence or social, financial, professional or emotional suffering into consenting into sex or any sexual activity with you, then you haven’t gotten consent because you did not allow them the luxury of choice.
  • Consent is retractable. People can change their minds about what they want to do or not do with their bodies. If you proceed with sex or sexual acts after they’ve asked you to stop, you are sexually assaulting them.
  • You are not entitled to anyone’s body and what they choose to do with it even if you are dating or married to them. Although the Nigerian law doesn’t recognize marital rape (yet), rape is rape regardless of marital status. The fact that you paid bride price does not grant you an all-access pass to sex with your spouse even when they do not want it.
  • Consent to one thing is not consent to all things. Making out with someone does not mean they are down to have sex. You’ve had sex in the past does not mean they are down for sex all the time. Sexting and sending nudes are not consent.
  • Sex under false pretence is rape. If you allow the person you are with think that you are having protected sex but you secretly remove the condom midway without their consent, you would have raped them. More so if you know you have an std yet you lead someone to believe that you are free of all stds and they have unprotected sex with you, you would have raped them.
  • The assumption that all women want to be coerced into giving consent is false. Don’t assume you are (or call someone) a “dead guy” because you respected consent and didn’t go further after you were not granted consent. Consent was retracted after being initially granted. In any case, it is better to be a “dead guy” than to be a rapist
  • Stop slut shaming.
  • Women need to stop pretending.
  • Stop promoting rape culture.
  • Stop defending and making excuses for rapists.
  • Unsolicited nude pictures and sexual texts are sexual harassment.
  • Catcalling is sexual harassment.
  • Women are not for your amusement or relief.
  • Only 2% of rape accusations have been proven to be false.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

The Awazi is an On-Air-Personality; she hosts the drive time show called the “HomeRun” on weekdays, on Soundcity 98.5fm. She is very passionate about children and women, spreading the message of consent and body confidence, and she works with the NGO- Stand to end rape to teach kids about their bodies and about consent. To find out more about her interests, follow @TheAwazi on Instagram, Twitter and on Facebook.

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