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Why women opt not to come out



What a week it has been on social media. With allegations resurfacing from our neighbours of intimate partner rape and assault, Basotho wasted no time in jumping on the band wagon. I personally had decided not to engage on this one, at least on the social media front because let us face it, constantly fighting with strangers on Gender Based Violence is draining. It is not at all the vibe I want to introduce into my December. I however began to grow increasingly alarmed at the number of Basotho that were arguing the matter with all their might that a rape could not have occurred because the people involved were involved in a romantic relationship. The other argument was that the woman in question took too long to come out and so she is obviously lying. Of course the other matter was that women will do anything to tarnish a good black man. Never mind that this particular black man’s image includes murdering high school kids while driving recklessly under the influence of alcohol so that third point is moot. In any case this is not even about that issue. What this is about is rather why so many Basotho men and women would rather pretend that the alleged rape did not happen in that instance or in countless other instances where an intimate partner alleges rape. To admit that a rape can happen between a man and a woman who are in a relationship is a scary thing as a woman. If you, as a woman admit that instances where someone forces their intimate partner to have sex even if she says she is not in the mood then what does that mean for you? Does it mean that all those times your husband or boyfriend insisted on sex or over powered you when you had explicitly stated that you were not interested count as rape? What about the time you had sex to keep the peace? The times you agreed because you were afraid you would be thrown out in the middle of the night? To admit that those constitute rape for another woman means admitting that you yourself have been a victim of rape and that is a problem. It is a problem because you might still be with the person and admitting that those instances were rape means you are staying with a rapist. Most of all this is a big problem because it now means that you are someone who has been a victim of rape and with the negative connotations and shame that our society has transcribed to being a rape victim, is that a truth you are willing to face? For most the answer is a No. Who can blame them, except rape is a crime just like other crimes and you the victim have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. It however may serve to explain why Basotho women fought so hard to stay in their denial and what a shame that has been to witness. Basotho men as well fought tooth and nail over the past week to invalidate the notion that rape can occur between a husband and wife. Between boyfriend and girlfriend and any other sexual relationship. Most of all they wanted to know why it would take years for a woman to come out. I found the second question funny and nonsensical. This very behaviour that was being displayed is exactly why it takes years for women to come out. The shaming, the ridicule, the nonsensical and honestly stupid opinion pieces you people wrote are the very reason why women do not come out. Who wants to suffer through a rape and then come out only to have every aspect of their lives investigated and gone through with a fine tooth comb! Most victims stay silent because it is honestly the peaceful option. People allege all sorts of crime all the time and rarely are subjected to the court of public opinion than when one speaks out about a rape. You can talk about your car being stolen and no one will want to know why you were driving in such a dangerous area, why you flaunted your expensive car knowing full well that thieves are looking and the many other idiotic questions that come out when a rape is being discussed. Most of all the men that were arguing against the matter were men who have potentially had sex with their intimate partners when consent had expressly been denied or when it was obtained under much coercion. Theirs was a worry that, if we choose to believe this woman, in this instance what happens when the women they have done this to come forward and speak about it. Will we believe them? And they have to fight tooth and nail to discredit this one woman so that the women in their lives cannot come forward out of fear of public ridicule and shame. Or if when those women come out they shall not be believed. It was not even about this one particular incident, but rather self-preservation against future allegations and it was a war they had to fight with all their might. Not to protect this one man but to protect themselves. It has been draining watching all these play out on a public platform. It has also been futile to argue. When cases like this happen the only thing the average woman can do is look closely at the reaction of the men around you. Their reaction will tell you on a balance of probabilities whether these are men who are likely to rape you. Whether they are men who choose to misunderstand the concept of consent. Look closely also at the women around you. Are these women going to stand with you or will they hide their heads like ostriches in the sand to maintain the illusion that they live in at your expense. You know the truth. Act accordingly. Thakane Rethabile Shale

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