This post was written by Princess.
Cue laughter from the audience.
After repeatedly listening to the now infamous audio recording of State Minister Ronald Kibuule’s moronic comments while addressing youth in Kajara County, Ntungamo, it is these mocking words – Please, why don’t you rape me? – followed by the laughter from the audience that continue to haunt me.
We laugh for many reasons. Perhaps we are genuinely amused; maybe we are nervous, incredulous, at a loss for words. Perhaps the person we are laughing at or with has said something trivial, light, or even foolish. The difference between these “laughters” is that shocked, nervous, or derisive laughter is often short and abrupt – a single outburst rather than a continuous peal.
The laughter in the recording is sustained. It takes several seconds to peter away, suggesting that it arises from genuine mirth. More outrageous and alarming to me, therefore – more alarming than Mr. Kibuule himself, that is – are the laughers in Mr. Kibuule’s audience. What about the idea of a woman crushed and made vulnerable is funny to them? How can choice of clothing constitute an open invitation to violate?
While many index fingers are fixed in Mr. Kibuule’s direction (and rightfully so – to suggest that the police should ignore select rape victims is criminal as well as buffoonish), I would like to draw attention to the remaining fingers – the ones that are pointed at us. Because there are laughers among us. There are people, men and women both, who believe that if a woman dresses a certain way, she deserves to be raped. This is a belief they have absorbed from authority figures all their lives; a belief that blinds them to the fundamental injustice, no, the violation that occurs when a woman’s consent is deemed irrelevant.
Rape is not okay.
Rape is seriously, absolutely, never okay.
It’s a simple enough message, no? A message that we can begin to drum into the public’s mind through institutions (schools, churches, hospitals), mass media (music, movies, books), and finally at home, through the examples we set for – and the lessons we teach to – our children.
It is imperative that the government’s attention should be drawn to comments and sentiments such as Mr. Kibuule’s, which are symptomatic of a deeper societal ailment, but we should not forget our own power to make a difference, starting with the people around us.
Say it with me:
RAPE IS NOT OKAY.
RAPE IS ABSOLUTELY, NEVER OKAY.
One day, enough of us will believe it.