How We Talk About Rape in Africa

Panelists: Pumla Gqola, Laure Beaufils, Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi

Moderator: Timehin Adegbeye

The silencing rape panel pulled a crowd that filled the cinema hall. Timehin Adegbeye deftly navigated the conversation between the four panelists and there were tears in the audience. White woman said women were still property if not legally (a recent development) then psychologically. She urged men to have conversations, to be active participants in discussions on rape because no one seems to know who these rapists are. ‘Where are the men who rape?’ she asked ‘Every man says not me. Who is this rapist then? He must be very busy.’

 

Osowobi also had questions on this phantom rapist. She pointed out that newspaper headlines go ‘Twenty women raped’ but absolve the culprits by not putting their names. Who are these men? She went on to say rape is actually about value, value of a woman’s body before and after it has been abused. At first she is untouched and so desirable then she becomes abused and therefore unwanted. Who invented these values?

Laure Beaufils said it was a shame there was no male on the panel. She talked about the ‘fear factor factory which says women’s bodies don’t belong to them; neither do public spaces or their sexualities. No consequences for rape in the society also contributed to this fear factory.

Osowobi investigated the attitude of men to consent saying ‘her no means no, whether in your bedroom or whatever, her yes means yes, not a coerced yes, not a drunken yes, a drunken woman cannot give consent, her no means no, if she says no you can go to your house and sleep.’

TJ Benson

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