When we have conversations about rape culture, we do so to dismantle the deeply ingrained belief systems that enable sexual perpertators get away with their crimes and continue to victimize innocents. Speaking publicly about the ways in which we discuss the appearance, behaviour and choices of women forces us and our audiences to truly examine how we stress and apportion blame in any situation and what has inspired our reasons to do this. There is no place where this is more important than when we discuss child and teenage sexual activity.
Nigeria is a deeply hypocritical place, where we use religion as a foil for our baser desires. Conventional religion, as it has been distorted in Nigerian contexts, heavily emphasizes the idea that women are temptresses, seeking the downfall of men. There is also the idea that sex education is immoral and will only accelerate the decline of young people. A lethal cocktail or archaic behaviours is why a learned person would share this kind of sentiment on a public platform.
My heart is so heavy right now, I met a 12 years old pregnant girl in Makoko today!
Dear parents, please monitor your daughters ooooooooooh
— Agboola Peter (@baba_Omoloro) October 28, 2019
While he was swiftly corrected, the phrasing of his tweet and the fact that he felt comfortable tweeting gave me significant pause.
Permit me to reiterate that a 12 year old girl cannot consent to sexual activity. At that age, the child cannot make decision about drinking alcohol, seeking medical attention without the consent of an adult or move into their own private apartments without adult supervision. If they cannot do that, they certainly cannot consent to sexual activity. Children do not rape themselves, or get themselves pregnant. They are often the victims of a system that demands they remain vigilant at all times, to avoid being exploited by men, and places no responsibility on men to do better or investigate and curtail their sexual desires.
It is not the parents job to ‘monitor’ their children. It is their job to parent them. It is our job as a collective society to enforce the consequences for engaging in sexual misconduct with a minor. It is our job to make people who perform acts of sexual misconduct against any one face such ostracization that the prospect of this becomes unbearable to them.
Let us live children who are already traumatized by non-consensual acts alone.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.