People spend so much time telling women how to avoid rape in a bar or an alley but what are the prevention measures women should take when the rapist isn’t the stranger in the bar who offered to buy a drink, or the stranger on the train/bus who stared at you all through the ride? What do we do when the rapist is a brother, father, uncle or husband?
I’ve heard so many rape prevention measures usually targeted at women and girls, things to do and things not to do to prevent it yet people rape women and girls everyday, one would think that with so many prevention measures out there rape would be nonexistent by now.
I grew up in the church so normally my first prevention measure was the story of Dinah –Jacob’s only daughter– and Shechem ( Genesis 34 ). Dinah went out to visit her friends in the village and Shechem, the prince of the city took her and raped her. Christian girls know the story of Dinah like we know the back of our palms, we know what she should have done to prevent the rape and we’ve been taught to not be like her. Unlike Dinah, stay indoors always.
Do these prevention measures work?
We tell girls to always move in cliques, don’t get into the wrong car, text your friends regularly if you go on a blind date, send the picture and plate number of the man to your friends, don’t leave your friends alone with strangers, carry a gun/ pocket knife/ pepper spray etc. At a point, prevention measures can indirectly be used to victim blame women because when we expect women to do certain things to prevent rape, we are indirectly telling them that if they get raped then they missed a step on the official “how to prevent rape” handbook.
So how can we prevent rape?
We spend so much time placing the onus of prevention on girls while ignoring the predators.
In 2017 a prevention pamphlet posted on Reddit by Redditor sarahw went viral, it was funny to many people but it showed how terrible the prevention techniques targeted at women really are.
The tips outlined on the photo are :
- if someone is drunk, don’t rape them.
- If someone is drunk, don’t rape them. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone.
- Use the Buddy System! If it is difficult for you to stop yourself from raping someone, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.
- Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to rape someone, blow the whistle until someone comes to stop you.
Of course the pamphlet is satire but imagine if we spend the time we spend teaching women prevention measures on teaching consent to everybody? Imagine if we stop putting women in situations where they think that if they had followed the unofficial “how to prevent” rape guidelines then they would have prevented the rape.
Instead of teaching prevention measures all the time, we need to teach consent to people especially children so they don’t grow into adults who don’t understand “No means No” and “Yes means Yes”. We need to fight rape-culture with everything we have, when you notice people making rapey jokes, call them out immediately instead of laughing and saying “boys will be boys”. We need to fight against victim blaming and slut shaming, we need to fight toxic masculinity, we need to teach survivors of sexual violence that the shame of the rape isn’t theirs to carry, the shame belongs to the rapist alone.