Rape culture has for a moment existed in our societies and been perceived as the desired achievement, as the victims get the blame for their assaults, the culture is not necessarily sexual violence but the culture around it, where this kind of violation is exempted and cherished by cultural and institutional norms.
Rape culture has marked the victims and targets vulnerable, in that women have to sacrifice opportunities and freedom to be safe, burdening women with the responsibility of their safety and condemning them if they fail at it.
However, men are also experiencing the atrocities of this ill culture despite it having roots in the patriarchal structures moulded to benefit men, men get sexually assaulted equally by women and worse by fellow men.
Speaking to the 77 Percent Street Debate show by DW, Bhekisisa MnCube a former Gender Based Violence victim confirms how the culture he grew up in shaped him into a sexual abuser.
“When I was a 10-year-old boy my brother molested me, growing up I had the idea of Sex is something to be taken, not to be negotiated,”
“At the age of 16 I visited my girlfriend together with my friends, our idea was to take them to our home and have sex with them, we did not seek their consent, we were armed with knives and sticks.” Mncube narrated.
Mncube had been sexually abused as a child by his own elder brother, also came from a homestead where his role models were sexual offenders and violent people, starting with his father.
“My father would bring his girlfriend at home when my mother was there, and he would beat up everyone, so I learned that as a man you are in charge so you take compliance, and take pride in it”
“Growing up we had a game called ‘Stimuli the Train’, where young men could queue outside a house to rape a woman, which was not considered as Gang rape but it was a norm,” Mncube added.
Ettiene De Beer, a professional Counselling Psychologist claims that this sort of ill practice has been normalized by society, and encouraged and accepted since the perpetrators are not mentally ill people but normal functioning individuals.
“What I notice when I listen to rape cases is that our societies have allowed and accepted this ill act to be part of the system, to an extent that they encourage it, it is not psychopaths who do this but normal people.” De Beer noted.
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To curb this atrocious act, Government needs to gear up for women and men who have been violated and want to come out, as they need safe havens and legal assistance, and people on the frontline who deal with sexual and domestic assault victim needs special training so they understand how to handle Gender Based Violence victims.
“Sexual harassment and catcalling in the streets should be addressed for it contributes to the culture, and the so-called ‘locker talks’ are no longer acceptable”. De Beer concluded.
“What society needs is a new man, a new way to understand who is a man, a redefinition of a man, we need to start a new culture that regards women as human beings and not our possessions”. Mncube concludes.