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Dressing is no excuse for sexual violence

GENDER FOCUS with EMELDA MWITWA
NO crime should be justified because a wrong is wrong, no matter how many transgressors want to walk the popular road.
This is exactly my thought when it comes to people wanting to justify sexual violence on account of provocation from alleged indecent dressing by women. Just because a girl is skimpily dressed is no invitation to anyone to molest her sexually. Many of us who have parented adolescents know how much a battle it is to get children to wear the kind of clothes that we consider as decent in terms of length, width and style, because kids feel we are from the old school. Most of the time, in their choice of clothes, adolescents have a penchant for tight jeans or what they call skinny slacks, mini-skirts and dresses, shorts and generally tight-fitting clothes than the kind of clothes that their parents would rather they wore. During summer, women, especially, the youth get so excited to wear bright-coloured clothes and other summer wear that come with minimum length, long slits, bare back and scanty pieces of cloth because, globally that’s how people dress in the hot season. We live in a global village where dressing is more or less the same everywhere and seasons dictate how people dress. And young people in particular do not want to be left out in terms of trending fashion, no matter how unhappy other people may feel about it. This is the struggle that many a parent who believe in modest dressing face when they attempt to guide their children on what and what not to wear. Some of you could relate with these struggles. There are those times when a parent and child can’t go shopping for clothes together because they will not agree on what to buy owing to their different tastes of fashion dictated by age. A fight could erupt in a shop on account of attempts by the old school of fashionistas to dictate to the younger snappy dressers on what to buy and what not to. This is why some parents tend to act smart by going out on their own to shop for their children clothes they consider modest and durable. Unfortunately in most instances, children in wanting to keep in tune with modern fashion, will shelve such clothes in the wardrobe and never to wear them because as far as they are concerned, they are unattractive. A parent is likely to get that reaction if children, especially teenagers feel that you want to dictate to them what to wear. Perhaps what could help is reasoning with the children and finding a middle ground because you can’t always have your way when it comes to matters of fashion and adolescents’ preferences. That moment of crazy dressing by youngsters is a phase of life that never lasts forever. It will pass, and it does pass. There comes a time in life when what seemed like fruitless efforts by parents to chaperon youngsters on dressing begin to bear fruit. This is why I do not like it when people attempt to justify sexual violence against women on account of indecent dressing. I also feel offended by men who when they see a girl in a mini-skirt or tight slacks, take it as an invitation to have sex with her. The fact that a girl is wearing tight jeans is no invitation to any man to touch her inappropriately or make sexually suggestive comments about her. That’s sexual harassment and the victim could actually have you arraigned in a court of law. Apparently some of the men who perpetuate sexual violence against adolescents, allegedly based on dressing, are actually fathers themselves, who in my view should be in the forefront of protecting the young ones based on the aforementioned reasons. Any man who calls himself a father should understand the adventures and excesses of girl children in the area of dressing during the adolescence phase. I am not defending provocative dressing by women but rather, I am saying that sexual predators should not use dressing as an excuse for preying on women. In my view, many sexual predators are driven by greed and their own lack of self-control. It’s a serious mental condition that no one should justify.
If dressing is a factor in the scourge of sexual violence of our time, what could be the compelling factors for the high occurrence of child rape? What about incidences where young men have forced themselves on women old enough to be their mothers or grandmothers? Some victims of sexual violence are senior citizens who have no business wearing mini-skirts or revealing clothes. To the look of things, we are living at a time when society has become tolerant of sexual violence against women. When I say sexual violence, I mean forced sex with women/girls, attempted rape, sexual harassment of women or indecent assault based on gender. The most worrying form of sexual violence of our time is child defilement whose victims are girl children below the age of 17. Despite the crime carrying a minimum jail sentence of 15 years, many rapists seem to remain undeterred in their evil acts of molesting girls. What worries me more is the tendency by society to justify the high scourge of sexual violence by blaming victims. Women are often blamed for allegedly inviting the wrath of rapists on themselves through indecent dressing by way of mini shirts /dresses, see-through clothes and figure-hugging regalia. And most of the time when a woman is raped, there is no sympathy from members of society because they feel she somehow asked for it. This is the reason why some victims of sexual violence opt to suffer quietly to avoid the blame-game and name calling. Victim-blaming must come to an end because no woman deserves to be raped, no matter what. Rapists get away with crimes against women and girls because of society’s predisposition to defend outlaws and vilify victims of sexual violence. Email:eshonga@daily-mail.co.zm/emeldashonga@yahoo.com Phone:0211-221364/227793




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