Last week, Ghanaian Gender Minister, Otiko Djaba caused quite an uproar on social media as she cautioned young girls to dress appropriately to avoid being raped.
Otiko Djaba told girls at a senior school in eastern Ghana that they should demand respect and equality but added short dresses “can attract someone who would want to rape or defile you. Her comments suggest women get raped due to the way they are dressed.
This view is a commonly held one and is among the various myths associated with rape that blames the victim. Quite often ‘ what were you wearing’ is a question rape victims get asked during rape investigations as most people believe rapists have to be prompted to rape.In other words, dressing determines if you get raped or not.
Following this “Theory”, properly dressed women or girls are never raped just the ones that are dressed seductively. Now, if this is true how do we explain women in burqas who get raped? There must have been some skin showing right?
The way a women or girl is dressed is NOT an excuse to rape her. According to a Federal Commission on Crime and of Violence study, 4.4 % of all reported rape cases reported “provocative behaviour” on the part of the victim. It also found that most convicted rapists could not remember what their victims were wearing.
In one study, 1 in 3 college men said that they would force someone to have sex if they could get away with it, and it had nothing to do with clothing.
So why do men rape women?
A research on rape in South Africa (which happens to have one of the highest of rape rate in the world) found out men commit rape out of a sense of sexual entitlement. The study further identifies peer pressure, boredom and act of punishment as reasons why men rape women. No mention of dressing. In conclusion, the study highlights the importance of interventions and policies that start in childhood and seek to change the way in which boys are socialised into men.
So, now we have shown that dressing is not the number one factor for rape, can we stop focusing on clothing and educate men not to rape women?
Can we correct the assumption that attitudes and behaviour prompt rape?
Can we start teaching our boys at an early age that No means No?
Can the Minister admit her mistake and start educating men not to rape women?