Rape: to force somebody to have sex with you when they do not want to by threatening them or using violence.
– Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
I unfollowed Aunty Olu this week. A good number of us did. Because her wall took us to places we didn’t want. Places some of us had left in secret shadows. Places we like to pretend never happened.
I was 16 years old in 100 level, University of Ibadan, when a senior friend introduced me to an egbon. Egbon was from Ijebu like me, popular, and could protect my tiny self, he said. I was grateful. Coming from boarding house where I’d always had a school father and had “mothered” some juniors myself, I was bloody giddy. Uni life wasn’t going to be so different after all, I thought.
Fast forward some months later. I didn’t leave Campus without telling egbon, and he played his part. Whenever I was out at the library late he’ll call me, check up on me, maybe walk me to Queens Hall (my hostel at the time).
One day he said he was going to Ijebu to visit his Mum. The Friday he returned he called me to come pick up goodies he bought. He was tired, hence couldn’t leave his room, he explained. I was to attend fellowship by 5, so I said I’ll see him by 4:30. I previously hadn’t visited his hostel though I’d known it. He told me his room number, and said that I simply needed to ask for his room and any student would show me. Facking popular social somebody.
I got to his room and he brought out waist beads. I was soooo happy! I had told him one day that waist beads were the first expense I’d made with my first pocket money. You see, I’d been craving them since secondary school when some beaded waist princesses had been in my dormitory and I’d felt that as Otunba Kuku’s princess I too should have mine. I received it gratefully and he requested the honour of wearing them for me. I raised a brow, mentally revised our relationship. Egbon had never acted untoward. I wore clothes for my brothers and family friends, didn’t I? But I felt someway still. So I said he should wear the beads ON my gown just to see. I’ll wear it properly later, I said.
Egbon smiled happily, took the beads from me, stood up from his bed, and next I felt was the force of push. My face was against the bed and Egbon was trying to raise my gown up. I quickly turned upwards, saw him fling the beads away, and the voice in my head said oh shit! I couldn’t match his physical strength so I recoursed to my strength. Words. I don’t remember what I said. And I don’t know for how long I talked. I begged him with everything beggable. I used emotional blackmail too. Reminded him he was my senior brother. Cried. I whispered, kept thinking how I couldn’t shout.
People would say I’d gone to his room by myself. I’d managed to get pretty popular within my department as the only female member of the press. The thought of what the scandal would cause scared me shitless.
Perhaps tired of my struggles, or perhaps something I said got to him, I don’t know. He shifted away from me; breathing heavily. I flew up, ran out of his room and kept running till I got to Church. Ironically, it was a male at the door. He stopped my bawling self, told me to breathe, and asked what had happened. I did. Hiccuping, nose running, I did. The second male would become my real school father till he graduated.
I wish I could say that was the only time someone tried to force his way into my panties. But it was merely the first. My initiation to a life of fear, paranoia, and nightmares. And anyone who knows me can attest that I used to dress like a tomboy. I still have more sneakers than heels. And I dress often without exposing my body. Wait, which body? And what can I expose in normal denim jeans mbok?. I’m not porn-star curvy irresistible; who dash opelenge that wan? But oh, I’m beautiful. I won’t deny it. I’m veeerrry beautiful; inside and out. And a few years ago I found my way to healing and the realisation that I’m not the crime. I’m not what’s wrong or what has a sexual aura. Beauty isn’t evil. Rapists are wrong. And it’s never about the dress. Or the walk. Or the talk. Or any other excuse that’s flung about how victims of rape “asked for it”. Why? Because as human you always have the choice to look away, walk away. Because if it was dressing, baby males and females won’t get raped. Nor folks in hijabs and too many Indian clothes.
Also, because we understand theft of even the most luxurious flashy goods are a crime. Rape is a theft of body, soul, and spirit. Rape of any sex is therefore not merely a deplorable act. It is wrong. Evil.
And RAPE is a CRIME.
#DupeWrites #SayNoToRape #DoNotRape #ConsentOrNoSex #NoMeansNo
Dupe Kuku is a Development Communicator, Writer and Researcher. She works with Glitz Concept.