Ever since the #sexforgrades documentary by the BBC came out, I’ve not been able to get the “Put off the light and I’ll kiss you for a minute” statement out of my mind. Not just because it’s ridiculous but also because it’s shocking to hear a man in his 50s say that to a ‘17-year old’.
Well, is it? 🤔
If you’re a lady in your 20s, chances are that you have come across old, shameless men who have made (or are still making) amorous advances towards you. This didn’t start today and it definitely didn’t start at the university.
Personally, I started dealing with sexual harassment and abuse since I was 5; from the landlord’s son who raped me at the age of 5 to the boy on the street who tapped my buttocks when I ran an errand for my mum. I was only 10 when it happened but remembering that incident still sends shivers down my spine. What about the school bus driver who touched my hands inappropriately at 12 or my mum’s driver who gave me the eye at 13? Or is it the Sunday School teacher who whispered sweet nothings into my ears while at children’s church at the age of 8? The list goes on and on. The interesting thing is most of these men, save for the teenage boy and our landlord’s son, had families of their own. Funny thing is, I couldn’t tell anyone not even my parents. Why? They would have never believed me or worse, they would have blamed me for the abuse. So I suffered in silence.
You see, this is a deeply rooted problem. We need to begin to teach our boys and men self-control. We also need to advocate and implement stiffer penalties for sexual offenders. We need to educate our boys and even our girls about sexual harassment. It is wrong to touch a woman inappropriately. You don’t grope a woman and for God’s sake, a girl below 18 is below the age of consent (at least in most civillised societies). Guys, staring long at a lady’s body is wrong.
I remember going on a date with a guy some years ago and all he ever did was stare at my body. He literally stripped me with his eyes. He kept biting his lips and making suggestive comments about my body. I felt violated. Mind you, I was properly clothed so this doesn’t always have to be about how the lady is dressed. Some men just have no self-control.
As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child today, let us remember that a woman is, first of all, a person. She is not some toy for anybody’s sexual pleasure. She deserves to be treated with love and respect. Parents, let us do well to protect our girls, and as we do, let us not fail to teach our boys to respect women. Sexual harassment has to stop. Sexual abuse has to stop. Rape must stop. Let us stop the victim shaming. Let us stop protecting rapists and sexual predators. Let us all stand up for our girls. Their lives matter.
Happy International Day of the Girl!