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Time to talk about rape and racism BY Gbenga Oloniniran


Ending rape is not a protest against men by women or against women by men, lest it becomes another gender war, another division, like racism and xenophobia. It is fine that we call out the evil excesses of men to men, but it is better still that we take cognizance of the institutions that strengthen these excesses.

Many governments across the world are racists and rapists in themselves whom we do not have to wait for their outright pronunciations of themselves as racists before we call them out. From calling Africa the “shit hole” countries and labelling a global pandemic as “Chinese virus”, maybe we do not need an academic study on racism to see the tendencies of a Donald Trump. Whether or not a virus is Chinese, we are not here to debate that for the imperial powers of course not, because we are not dying in their war.

Like the characters of the ruling class in many places, they are quick to hold the citizens responsible for the predicaments caused by poor governance. They constantly appear to settle scores for the masses they have succeeded in dividing. Nigeria has had her president calling the youths lazy, in a country where joblessness abounds and where resources to make quality living only revolve around the few elite, but the youths are rather blamed for this. At times, even the elders who are in themselves not spared of these austere policies are also made to think the youths of this generation are probably lazy as sponsored by the ruling bosses, forgetting it is not about the old and young generation but about the generation repression of the weak and poor by elements in power.

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When people are victims of societal violence, such as being raped or murdered, the institutions of the system express their sympathies in writings and proceed to blame the victims for their whereabouts and subsequently advise others to be careful or stay safe, but neglect the role of the government in failing to guarantee a safe environment. The releases of the University of Benin and RCCG managements respectively on the muder of young Uwa confirmed the hypocrisy of these institutions. It is the same way the police institution might tell you that a crime is not robbery, rape and murder as reported in a news, that it is only murder or that it is only robbery and murder and you begin to wonder which among them is not a crime after all, or which is lesser and least, or which among them is insecurity not responsible for.

Again, when the system makes people poor and economically helpless, the governments and their institutions make the citizens blame themselves for it; they fight across race, ethnic and religious divides.

The system molds its apparati, the police, military and other forces, to consciously and unconsciously brutalise the people they are meant to protect. The state’s armed forces sometimes physically assault the people more than they are interested in keeping them safe and preventing crimes. This is not only in Nigeria or Africa but across the globe.

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The economic undertone of racism is not different from that of xenophobia. On one hand, imperialist subjugation of other countries plays a role in fueling the racist characters of the whites against the blacks. Just as using the soldiers to fight the battles they did not create, citizens are employed to battle other races to continually keep the imperialists in control of nations under their neocolonisation. On the other hand, at a point where the economic gap between the rich and the poor is notoriously widened by the greed and bad governance of the ruling class, the xenophobic and racist characters of the people are equally brazened along. It becomes more violent a situation, blazing like wildfire in the harmattan. Unfortunately, they are in the wrong battle against the wrong section of people.

Maybe unlike racism and xenophobia, socioeconomic undertone behind rape is not loudly pronounced, but the ideology of the system fuels human criminality no matter how hard the ruling class tries to pretend to fight these crimes. Robberies, cybercrimes, human trafficking, kidnaps and incessant terrorism are only some symptoms bred by bad governance, and rape is also one of these symptoms.

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Of course, if we can agree that joblessness and poverty breed crimes, we should not agree less for rape to be in the category of such crimes. This is without prejudice to the excesses of man’s inhumanity to man – as in rape and murder, as in police brutality and other forms. The institutions that breed insecurity, unemployment, social inequality and social depression is first the government and its economic arrangement. We should not always forget. Their actions and inactions have psychological effects on the social behaviour of people, and this is to a large extent.

The idle brain is the devil’s workshop. Simply put, joblessness and poverty continually breed insecurity and other crimes perpetrated, including rape and every other form of domestic violence that is not even pronounced. These symptoms are reflections of the system’s ideology, and this ideology which keeps the masses helpless is the ideology that keeps the ruling class in power.

As we fight and call out the evil excesses of men, we should never spare the governments and agents of the institutions that strengthen those evils, who only later come out, like referees, to settle scores for the battles and divisions they created.

All lives matter, and as we struggle in every situation, we must know our real enemies too. We have common ones.

Oloniniran wrote via [email protected]