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Few Men Rape, Others Just Watch Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Martin Tairo, Kenya Jun 20, 2005
Human Rights   Opinions
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Violence against women is widespread in Kenya. Every day, women are physically and sexually abused. Rape occurs in all social and ethnic groups. It is a crime that shocks and traumatizes the victim, and undermines the status of women in society. Yet it is largely suffered in silence.

Victims of rape often face insurmountable obstacles in trying to bring the perpetrators to justice. Many women who have suffered rape or other forms of abuse are too intimidated by cultural attitudes and state inaction to seek redress. To do so can lead to hostility from family, the community and the police, with little hope of success. Those who do seek justice are confronted by a system that ignores, denies and even condones violence against women, protecting perpetrators, whether they are state officials or private individuals.

Police statistics over the years have shown an increase in the number of reported rapes; 515 in 1990 and 1,675 in 2000. These figures are likely to reflect an under-reporting of rape and not its actual incidence. Local women's groups believe that the true figures are much higher.

But let me take a different approach to this saga. Why do men rape? Lisa Vetten, in her study of Violence and Reconciliation suggested that men rape because they believe they have the right to control and to punish women who do not obey their rules of behavior. She added that rape is an expression of unequal power relations between men and women. Such unequal power relations are not the result of nature or evolution but societies; which, through legislation and social custom, have made women second-class citizens.

Vetten has, in this study, captured the attitude that has engulfed Kenyan men. Because sociobiological thinking is incapable of addressing how societies and their structures create and uphold inequality, their best solution to prevent rape is the lame suggestion that women not dress attractively - an approach representing yet another attempt to control women's behavior.

But the victims of this heinous act have not always been women (young adults and middle aged). Even underage children and old women have fallen victims. This has been as a result of weird beliefs by members of a certain community that having sex with a virgin or an old woman is a sure cure for AIDS. In this era of discovery that has seen the youngest of children engage in sexual activities, baby girls between 1 day old to 4 years have felt the effect of this uncanny credence. These men rape them tearing their private parts apart, leaving them for dead. Very few of them have actually survived.

A basic approach to solving this problem may have to incorporate a greater amount of awareness information to people on the ways in which HIV/AIDS is transmitted and how it can be prevented. In addition, an understanding of rape that considers society would; however, emphasize the urgent need to change relationships between men and women, with emphasis on ensuring greater equality between the two. Such an understanding would also acknowledge the importance of changing relationships between men.

Men should also get more involved. There is a statement that goes, 'not all men rape; some of them just watch.' This may shock you as a man and get you thinking: 'I don't do that'; 'I don't rape, and I certainly wouldn't watch it. What's the point? This doesn't apply to me.' You may disregard the flyer as some piece of feminist propaganda, destined to fail. But men should realize that by dismissing the message, they are complicity participating in the rapes of millions of women in our society in general. Looking carefully at the statement, one should realize that it doesn't blame anyone for physically raping, or even watching. It only indicts you as a male allows it to continue, while you sit and let it happen.

We all know it happens. I could list the women I know who have been raped by their dates, their friends, their boyfriends, or their boyfriends' friends; but, space simply would not allow. Even worse, any one of you could write a similar list. So if we know there's a problem like this, why do we do nothing about it? How can we simply say, 'but I don't do it,' and continue along our merry little ways, while our brothers force themselves on our sisters?

What can we men do? Well, first (simplest and most important) of all, have some respect. Respect is much more complicated than 'no means no.' Respect is 'if she might not want it, don't do it.' Respect is not even touching or kissing her unless she says she wants you to. Respect is if she takes off all her clothes, and then takes off all your clothes, that might mean she wants to have sex. (If she really does 'want it,' she will tell you. Ask her.) Respect is not trying to 'hook up' with a woman if she has been drinking--if you know she wouldn't want to hook up with you when she is sober, then you shouldn't try it if she's drunk.

Second, if you're not directly part of the problem, try to be part of the solution. Convince all rape victims that you know to come out and report these atrocities to the authorities. Take it as a personal responsibility to ensure a safe environment for our mothers, sisters and daughters to move around freely without the fear of being attacked by rapists.

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Writer Profile
Martin Tairo

As a very creative Architecture student at the University of Nairobi, i have had lots of interests in many forms of arts. These include performing arts, writing and drawing.

I have written many articles on issues ranging from humour, politics, religion and even the most controversial topics like human rights and abortion.

fidelia Kenneth
christi | Sep 7th, 2012
Hello dear , i see your contact here,my name is fidelia,i am 24 year old. how are you today I hope that everything is ok with you as it is my great pleasure to contact you and in having communication with you starting from today, please I wish you will have the desire with me so that we can get to know each other better and see what happens in future. I will be very happy if you can write me through my email please don't send it to the site ( fideliakennneth@yahoo.com ) for easy communication and to know all about each other. If it is okay by you, I can give you my pictures and details about me in my next email to you. I will be waiting to hear from you as I wish you all the best.(fideliakennneth@yahoo.com ) Remain Blessed fidelia Kenneth

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