What is Rape Culture in Kenya?
Rape Culture in Kenya

To me, rape is a subject that hits very close to home, so for me to go over this topic did not only give me a lot of information, but it also brought back previous memories and emotions. There were two main things that really caught my attention.

I have known people close to me that have been raped. The one thing I can say about all the people that have been raped have in common is that nothing has been the same since the occurrence happened. And what is even more interesting to me is that even the offender was often scarred just as much as the victim. I find that interesting because the offender cares for the victim enough that he is distraught that he would hurt her as bad as he did, even though he must have been aware of how detrimental rape can be to somebody.

Every time I see ‘#MeToo’ it represents a story that was created in, tragedy but found its way to triumph. Behind this hashtag all over social media is a person whose dignity was undermined by sexual violence. The hashtag “me too” were the words of Tarana Burke where she created for a movement during a march against sexual harassment along the streets of Hollywood.Sexual harassment has been one of the major setbacks for women in our country and the ongoing confessions by celebrities all over the world has sparked a revolutionary global front against the demeaning acts.

In Kenya, sexual harassment has been a topic widely discussed, however, not enough to make a substantial change in the society. Unfortunately, the non-discriminative nature of sexual harassment has seen our very own children and women victims of the highly intrusive and demeaning acts by perverse selfish criminals who boast in the helpless reality of male versus female strength.

Our country has developed a sort of a rape culture. Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.

Examples of Rape Culture.

  • Blaming the victim for example by saying “She asked for it!”
  • Trivializing sexual assault. For instance, some people might say “Boys will be boys!”
  • Sexually explicit jokes.
  • Tolerance of sexual harassment.
  • Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history.
  • Very many gendered violence in movies and television.
  • Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive.
  • Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive.

 

In this Blog, i will be examining rape not as a matter of sexuality, but rather as an expression of  anger towards the victim, control and  humiliation. Feminist scholars have challenged current understandings of rape culture to change the focus to acknowledge the control issues involved. Rape is a particularly difficult crime because it’s about both power and violence. Rapists use sex organs as the locus of their violence.

According to this notion, rape isn’t about sex, at least not in the sense of being motivated by sexual attraction or an uncontrollable sexual urge and being dominant over the victim. Sexual assault is motivated by hostility, power and control. Sexual assaults are not motivated by sexual desire. Unlike animals, humans are capable of controlling how they choose to act on or express sexual urges.

The issue of whether rape should be conceptualized as sexual or violent behavior is carefully examined by Muehlenhard et al. The authors discuss the question from the perspective of the victim and perpetrator. They further break down the issue into whether the motivation, consequence, or experience of the assault is being discussed.

These authors recommended moving the issue beyond sex versus violence to a focus on control. They suggested defining sexual coercion on the basis not of whether the woman was a victim of violence but of whether she freely consented to the activity.

The issue of consent is linked to the role of alcohol in sexual aggression. Abbey et al. discuss the link between alcohol use and sexual aggression. The evidence suggested that in almost 50% of the incidents of sexual aggression, alcohol has been used by one person and, most often, by both individuals. Using alcohol complicates the issue of consent.

At what point in the process of moving toward inebriation is a woman no longer able to provide consent? Is drinking with a man who has expressed an interest in sexual activity a form of implicit sexual consent?

 

  • Women are viewed as property.

Women are Both Portrayed and Treated as subservient therefore are degraded by their male counterparts. Women mostly tend to be treated, viewed as property and playthings in the current world. Their worth and value has been diminished so they are  treated in so many bad ways.Rape is an outcome of social inequality between the sexes.

 

  •  “The look”.

Regardless of anybody’s  actions, no one deserves to be physically, verbally or sexually abused. Women are mostly blamed for playing victim for being assaulted. In other words it is said that it was their fault.

In fact, putting the blame for the violence on the victim is a way to manipulate the victim and other people. Batterers will tell the victim, “You made me mad,” or, “You made me jealous,” or will try to shift the burden by saying, “Everyone acts like that.”

Most victims try to placate and please their abusive partners in order to de-escalate the violence. The batterer chooses to abuse, and bears full responsibility for the violence. The offender somehow establishes a form of control over the victim by making them feel it was all their fault that they have been assaulted.

When women are the victims of rape, there’s an immediate assessment of what she did wrong and which of her perceived mistakes made her vulnerable to an assailant. For example if an eleven year old girl is gang-raped  by a group of grown men and the problem was that she wore make-up and she had “provocative” clothing.

 

Read More: Myths About Sexual Assault

 

  • Abusive relationships.

Many victims of rape and any other form of sexual assault  love their partners despite the abuse. They blame themselves, or feel as if they have no support system or resources outside of the relationship. This makes them feel like they cannot leave.

Furthermore, the period immediately after leaving an abusive relationship is extremely dangerous. The abusive partner in the relationship feels Jealousy and possessiveness which are signs that the person sees you as a possession and which they can dominate and control you and humiliate you.

In the case of a relationship, sex can be given willingly but in this case the abusive partner chooses to acquire the sex through aggression towards the victim.

 

  • Cultures.

Rape isn’t perpetrated only by members of one religion, race, nation or belief system. The rape culture has particularly been abetted by cultures in which women are second-class citizens and where women’s bodies are intensely politicized.

Also, the social hierarchies outlandishly privilege certain members of the society mostly the male and who are presumed to be of authority and righteousness.

  • An Expression of Anger and Power.

Raping is not just sex but a way to express anger towards the victim and humiliate the victim. The goal of this rapist is to humiliate, debase and hurt their victim. This is shown by how they express their contempt for their victim through physical violence and profane language. In this case,  sex is a weapon to defile and degrade the victim.

The rape constitutes the ultimate expression of their anger. If the rape was not controlled by anger, then why is so much more physical force used during the assault than would be necessary if the intent were simply to overpower the victim and achieve penetration?

This type of offender attacks their victim by grabbing, striking and knocking the victim to the ground, beating them, tearing their clothes, and raping them.

In the cases where the rape is extremely sadistic in a way of a victim being gag raped or it may lead to death,they have a sexual association with anger and power so that aggression and the infliction of pain itself is eroticized.

For this rapist, sexual excitement is associated with the inflicting of pain upon their victim. The offender finds the intentional maltreatment of their victim intensely gratifying and takes pleasure in the victim’s torment, pain, anguish and helplessness. For instance, the rapist may use some type of instrument or foreign object to penetrate his/her victim.

Sexual areas of the victim’s body become a specific focus of injury or abuse. The victims of a sadistic rapist may not survive the attack. For some offenders, the ultimate satisfaction is gained from murdering the victim. Some forms of sexual violence, such as gang rape, are predominantly committed by young men.

Sexual aggression is often a defining characteristic of manhood in the group and is significantly related to the wish to be held in high esteem.

  • Misogyny

Sexual violence committed by men is to a large extent rooted in the culture of male sexual entitlement. These belief systems grant women extremely few options to refuse sexual advances, which is humiliating.

Some men thus simply exclude the possibility that their sexual advances towards a woman might be rejected or that a woman has the right to make a decision when it comes to participating in sex.

In some cultures women, as well as men, regard marriage as entailing the obligation on women to be sexually available virtually without any limit.Societal norms around the use of violence as a means to achieve objectives have been strongly associated with the prevalence of rape.

In societies where the male superiority is strong, emphasizing dominance, physical strength and male honor, rape thrives. Countries with a culture of violence, or where violent conflict is taking place, experience an increase in almost all forms of violence, including sexual violence

 

CONCLUSION

Sexual Crime not only physically injures victims but leaves a torturous feeling of weakness and injustice in the hearts of those who have gone through it. Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault. Sexual assault is a violent attack on an individual, not a spontaneous crime of sexual passion. For a victim, it is a humiliating and degrading act. No one asks for or deserves this type of attack.

While organizations such as, the Protect A Girls Image is invested fully in assisting victims, the rape culture in Kenya is nowhere near eradication.

That these women have found the strength to overcome and stand above the unspeakable wrong done to them is a flicker of hope that those still suffering may find a voice to ask for help and refuse to be victims of the inconsiderate and inhumane violence.