‘No’ is a complete sentence

From November 25 to December 10, the world observes 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.

UN Women states that the campaign spotlights the actions being taken to end gender-based violence—the scourge which many human rights campaigners say is one of the most prevalent human rights abuses in the world.

The 16 days run from November 25—the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to December 10—Human Rights Day.

The 2019 global theme for the 16 Days of Activism campaign is: ‘Generation Equality Stands Against Rape’.

This is quite a befitting theme locally. In Malawi, cases of rape are increasing at an alarming rate. We now even have institution-sponsored rape if allegations made against the police in the Msundwe case are anything to go by.

In fact, such allegations against the law enforcers are not new. Some sex workers tell stories of being raped by police officers when they go to report a crime at the police station.

Cases of rape are increasing because in our society some men have a sense of entitlement. They think a woman’s ‘no’ means ‘yes’. Men should learn to understand that when a woman says ‘no’, she does not need an accompanying sentence to explain what she means by the ‘no’ reply. ‘No’ is enough. No is a complete sentence.

The other reason rape cases are on the rise is because of women who shield their spouses or partners when they abuse their own daughters or relations. The “let’s keep it in the family” tendency makes some men think it is ok to rape—after all they don’t face any consequences of their disgusting behaviour.

Stories have been told of some women who shield their spouses because they want to “save the marriage”. If your spouse is abusing your daughter or any woman, he is not worth your time and energy. Report him to the authorities and let justice take its course.

Law enforcers and the justice system is also somehow a let-down in the fight against rape, and generally, gender-based violence. Take for instance, the Msundwe case where girls and women alleged that they were raped by police officers. To this day, the issue has not seen its logical conclusion, and seems we are slowly letting it slide—this often deters victims from reporting such cases because they feel let down by society.

In standing against rape, there is need to nurture the next generation of men who respect women.

‘No’ means ‘no’. And that is a complete sentence.

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