#NotAllMen? Not right now.

The last week of May and the entire month of June was a very dark period for me. As I was working from home and trying to keep safe in these precarious times, social media had become my go-to for some relief (as well as the consumption of news as I see fit for my mental health). However, when I opened my Twitter app on this fateful day in May, I realised that I could no longer find succour on social media. A young woman had been raped and murdered. Again. As someone who is extremely invested in the protection and progress of the girl child, this news shattered me for weeks. I couldn't go on social media for fear of what I would see and the pain and tiredness I could feel from the tweets and posts from other women. Another thing that made me lose all interest in social media at this point was the "hot take" dropped by men about the heinous act of rape and how women somehow contribute to it. Being someone that already volunteers as a content creator to one of the most responsive rape centres in the country - Mirabel Centre - I quickly got to work expressing my frustrations the only way I new how, by writing. Below is what I had to say; On Saturday, May 30th 2020, the Mirabel Centre's Twitter account was tagged on a tweet about finding justice for a young lady named Uwa, who had been viciously raped and physically assaulted in a church in Benin. We immediately reached out to this young man via his DM on Twitter and provided contact details of lawyers and NGOs in Edo state that could help. Unfortunately, barely 3 hours after the conversation, the poster informed us that Uwa had passed and requested that we do all we could to get justice for her. With heavy hearts and a black cloud over our heads, we got to work and quickly put out a tweet announcing the tragic event and calling for justice from all and sundry. As the news spread to demand #JusticeforUwa, voices began to rise and statements were made to express that #WeAreTired. However, there were people (read men) who thought that a fight against the injustices that women constantly face somehow meant that men's rights were being neglected. Here is the thing; we all know “men also get raped”. Another thing we know is that no one makes jokes about these stories when they are shared more than men themselves. Infact, saying that the rights of men are not fought for is a big slap in the face of the many women who have been at the forefront of fighting battles that directly impact men's lives. We've called out police brutality, the offences of SARS, we've stood with men who were at one time or the other sexually assaulted and are now ready (and brave enough) to share their stories. The Mirabel Centre recently published a post about male-on-male abuse and we have also been known to take on cases of sexual assault against boys and men. So the issue here is that you're not really concerned about the support men supposedly do not receive when they share their stories. The real issue is that you are trying to derail the conversation currently being had and we will not stand for that. And to those of you who ask inane questions in order to shame and discredit victims, we can categorically tell you - drawing on the number of cases we have dealt with at the Mirabel Centre since existence - that it really doesn't matter where she was, what she was wearing, why she was there, what she said, what she did, how she walked/eat/slept/breathed, who she is, whether she fought or not, screamed or otherwise, MEN RAPE BECAUSE THEY WANT TO. In a bid to help, we also see people talking about self-defense and how it can help women avoid getting raped. This is shortsighted because it exposes the underbelly of the issue, which is that our society sees the crime of rape as something the woman should take responsibility for. This goes to prove just how deeply rape is ingrained in our society that it is subtly permissible to an extent - that being as long as the larger society does not raise awareness against it. So, we'll leave you with this - rather than teach girls how not to get raped, teach your boys that they have absolutely NO right to a woman's body! IT'S ABOUT TIME OUR SOCIETY STOPS FAILING THE GIRL-CHILD.

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