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Dear friends,

Let’s talk about rape and sexual assault.

I know that many of us have been oriented and taught that rape is a bad thing. Indeed, it is. No assertion is truer. However, we have also been taught that the victim (which is mostly women in this case) usually precipitates rape or assault through their skimpy dresses and how they appear “indecently” before men and as a result, when it happens, they “wanted it.”

We often tell girls to “dress decently” so as not to “entice” the guy in the corner of the street. In fact, so as not to also entice our cousins and uncles in our houses, our brothers at church, and our male friends at school. We caution the female child to appear responsible and be moral at all times and whenever rape cases do occur, “she probably dressed immorally and thus wanted it because of her ‘indecent’ dressing.”

While indecent dressing is not an issue to be overlooked, I think we all have focused our attention on women too much, while neglecting the men, in our quest to raise responsible and decent people in our communities. Check your local government, churches, schools, and organizations; you’ll see programs targeted at women: programs that talk about women’s empowerment while also instilling some form of morality and virtue in them; programs that admonish women to be of good character and present themselves decently at all times.

In my view, this in itself is a good thing. I do not think there is any parent, guardian, church, school, or organization who do not want to raise good, virtuous women. But the problem is that we organize these programs in a way that depicts that men are highly moral; like men do not need to be groomed; they are so perfect and cannot be immoral or do something bad, except when “tempted” by the woman. This is a very flawed, subconscious assumption.

If women are taught to be decent and virtuous and our daughters and women achieve 100% “decency” and “modesty” in our society, but men are still left to think and behave the way they do in today’s world, do you think rape cases will reduce? Judge that for yourself. I often ask myself: How many of the gendered programs that we organize are targeted at men? How many of them are aimed at grooming decent men and raising responsible men for the future?

We have seen and heard of cases where women who are fully dressed are still raped and sexually harassed. So whose fault is this?


What I am saying is men also need to be cautioned and oriented to be responsible human beings and programs targetted at achieving that need to be organized for men as well. So while organizations and schools are doing their best in raising virtuous women in our societies, the same organizations or other organizations (with similar goals of reducing sexual harassment cases) should also come up with programs that are aimed at raising responsible, virtuous men.

And please, do not play the monkey-banana card here where some people say “if you dangle a banana in front of a monkey, what do you expect to happen?” This is a nonsensical analogy. You’re not a monkey. You are a higher specie that has the ability to learn and relearn: if you can learn empathy, selflessness, self-control, effective communication, you can also learn how to coexist with women without posing yourself as a threat to them.

If you are a Christian reading this post, Christ did say “whosoever looks on a woman has already committed adultery in their heart.” The problem really is not the woman’s dressing but the corruption in the man’s heart.

I’m sure other religious books say something similar.

We can do better.

Sunday Jerome Salami

Sunday Jerome Salami is a young Nigerian passionate about quality education, good governance, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development. He strongly believes that access to quality education and ethical leadership training for young people are at the core of alleviating poverty, fostering strong institutions, and generally achieving sustainable development.

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