The Subtle Yet Painful Ways We Normalise Rape Culture In Ghana

A photo depicting abuse. Photo credit: pexels

We are told in school that the people we become and the values we uphold are based on the signals we pick from the society we are socialised in.

That is why something as simple as saying ‘good morning’ to strangers you meet on the street will come as a shock to someone from America or Europe.

It’s all based on how we were raised and the kind of rights and wrongs that were drilled into us through the various institutions of socialization such as family, religion, school, among others.

While we have come a long way in confronting some of these values and outlawing them, case in point, female genital mutilation, other values which are equally harmful are not so overt and a lot of learning and unlearning is needed in that regard.

The past couple of days, some Ghanaians were appalled when a video of a clergyman with the Anglican Church was seen kissing female students in front of a congregation. While there was outrage that something of that sort could boldly happen in the full glare of the public and others were also quite defensive of the clergyman who clearly was profiting off his power over the girls.

While the outrage was ongoing, a photo of a statement allegedly written by Concerned Students of St. Monica’s College of Education – where the incident occurred – circulated. While cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the statement, the content of the statement was equally horrifying.

Addressed to Bloggers, the statement came into the defence of the clergyman. While they declared their support for him, they also sought to provide a “justifiable excuse” for what was on the tape.

The statement. cannot confirm the authenticity of the statement.

Even if the authenticity of the statement is in question, it also points to rather cynical behaviour on how we treat issues of sexual harassment and predatory sexual behaviours, especially demonstrated by men in our society.

Women are generally not allowed to own their sexuality and mostly as the victims of rape culture, they are expected to be magnanimous, even in their pain and insecurity, to let their attackers (mostly men) off the hook.

“My friends told me I was being difficult when I complained about unwanted touches from a mutual male friend,” Francisca told about her ordeal with her abuser.

“Most people only see it as sexual assault or harassment when you are raped or have physical bruises,” she said.

Claiming to be a victim of micro sexual aggressions is very difficult though as a victim the effects are often the same.

“A lot of women feel powerless in certain situations because of the fear of being ‘othered’ even by women,” Francisca said.

According to experts who have researched on topics about sexual harassment and assault, such as Francis Boateng of the University of Mississippi who conducted a study called “Victims of sexual assaults: The experiences of Ghanaian women“, a lot of it comes from the ability of people to recognise that something is wrong and being empowered by society to speak up or do something about it.

In most traditional settings, it is easier to forgive or overlook the sexual transgressions of men, and men with power and/or in positions of authority.

Their micro sexual aggressions are excused by the chorus claims of “Boys will be boys,” cracking jokes about rape for amusement, catcalling; men deliberately flashing exposing themselves, sending unsolicited nudes, stalking, among others.

Because most of these do not result in physical harm to the victim, it is almost excusable when victims report it.

Then the name calling starts if the women won’t let it go – difficult, witch, saboteur and others. If that doesn’t happen then victim blaming would come in, “why were you there?”, “what were you wearing?” “you should have known better” and plenty others.

All these allows the predators to be unaccountable for their actions and rather leaves the victims to deal with their own trauma knowing full well that it could happen again at any moment and the society would still look on and do nothing.

Sometimes, as a society we would do something as seen in the St. Monica’s video. We would cheer on the act leaving you to question why you think what’s happening to you is wrong when it actually is.

One big takeaway from what happened this week is the recognition of how we celebrate or excuse subtle contributers of rape culture. It’s finally time we acknowledge it for the problem it is and educate ourselves to help solve the problem that is rape culture.


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