Bahamian women are generally unlike the stereotypical quite and obedient wives we see in the media. The good little wife. We are wives, and mothers but we’re also our own person. We are bold, powerful and unapologetic for it. Despite all of that, the men of the country are STILL more respected, higher paid, deemed more worthy of praise, and most of all more of a credible source than we are. Perhaps that is the reason why when we decide to have the audacity; to have the courage to step out and accuse the superior race that is, males; of rape we are silenced. Oh, you didn’t think that’s where I was going with this did you? I have more.
Rape has never been taken seriously in our culture and in many societies around the world. The fact that there are child brides in some Asian countries is proof alone. I bet some of you did not know that if a Bahamian couple went before God and pledged for better or for worse, her husband can legally stop her from travelling because he did not give her the “permission” to do so. Marital rape is a very real thing that is overlooked and ignored in our country mostly because many people believe there is no problem. A wife can claim that she was raped by her husband and pursue legal action, sure. This is quite lawful, but will justice prevail in the end? Probably not.
For a small nation of people, we talk about each other’s personal lives as if we get paid to do so. As a result, many of the elders in our families are overly concerned with saving face. Historically, the rational thing to do when a female child is raped by a member of her family has always been to “keep it in the family”. Little girls are taught that it is okay for their privacy and innocence to be appropriated by the men they are forced to see everyday and entrusted with the role of protecting them. I am being a bit too presumptuous here. This scenario only happens if the family members of the girls believe their tragic stories in the first place. Do you see the irony?
Instead of taking accountability, we make excuses. Women are objectified every day, and whether you realize it or not we know when men aren’t staring at just our faces. This has been taken to a new extent as we are in a phase of ‘victim blaming’. When a rape happens the first thing we do is scrutinize the actions of the victim in hopes of proving they are in some way partly responsible for a rapist not understanding the word no. It is not my fault if I wear something that arouses you! It is my right to wear what I please. However, it is your fault if you think what I wear physically resonates with you to mean I want you; and YOU specifically to have sex with me. We need to educate our society now more than ever that NO means immediately STOP and walk away. It doesn’t mean try again in 2 seconds and maybe I’ll say yes, or wear me down to the point where I’m too tired to fight back. Maybe it stems from the average pick up where a man asks a female for her number and when she says no, they result to violence. Or maybe it’s the fact that when we clearly voice the fact that we are already taken, it seems to be an invitation to persist further. Who knows, I may need you to tell me.
I know what you were thinking from I began this piece, “So the only people who are raped in the country are females? Males aren’t victims too?” of course they are. But how many of them willingly step up and take legal action against their accusers? If they did, how many law makers and upholders would take them seriously? Little to none. It is a shame, because there should be no double standard especially where a violation of the mind and body is concerned.
A social problem only becomes one when people are aware of it. So, while you may say this is nothing new, we’ve heard it all before, or other things; how many of you have actually attempted to do anything to bring awareness to the matter? We can discuss and debate things on twitter all day (I’ll catch heat for this comment), but when there comes a time to act who will really volunteer to do something? If there was a march who would participate?