Bad news bad boys, no Happy New year for you because #MenAreTrash. Apparently I shouldn’t be saying that and should instead say #IamTrash because apparently there is a good 0.1% of good men out there. But that means you would agree that there is a lot of trash in our system(s). If you think trash is a strong word, let’s go with “prejudice towards women” in general. I look at my chats with friends discussing women empowerment and I cannot believe I said the things that I have said. Or the sheer fact that I believed I was right and entitled to think so. My killer line used to be “If women spend as many hours working as men, who will take care of the kids?” While I would be labelled sexist by feminists, many men would cheer for me. You could be the most feminist man on the planet but there are things your system cannot understand about being a woman simply because you are not one. So I’m not going to be pretentious and claim that I do but for what it’s worth I like spending time listening to their stories. For the past few months I have been paying attention to few Rwandan women that I met, especially female artists – young, amateurs, professional, legends – and I was speechless to have a glimpse of the amount of prejudice, injustice, disrespect they endure on a daily basis. I couldn’t help but ask, “What do you think is the reason men treat so badly the same women who carry them into this life then look after them their lifetime?” The answer was a question. “Why don’t you ask men that?” Now how do I ask men who are “always right?” “Always working hard day and night to put food in the kitchen when all the women can do is boil and fry the food?” “Men who fight other men over territories to provide a safe haven for their women and children?” So the other day I burst the bubble by tapping into the Rwandan culture. The culture of rape to be precise.
This is something I only realized this year by interviewing old women in rural areas. I learned that our grandmothers were forced to marry at a young age. As young as twelve years old through rituals that were designed to blind their perceptions of reality in order to take advantage of them. Of course this is my current realization and interpretation of what I learned. You are entitled to your own opinion. I will talk loosely of marriage and sex practices. For instance, I learned that the sisters and friends of the young bride-to-be had to sing sad songs to make her cry on her wedding day but this was crafted to make the ritual seem like she was sad to leave her family but a truth that we were not told is that she was a child terrified to death to forcefully marry a man she had never met before and who probably was already married to three, four, six, ten or more other wives acquired through the same process. Yes acquired is the word. Let’s be honest, that dowry is not as sacred or symbolic as it seems. It’s strictly business. The groom was buying. And if you know the phrase “Sinagukoye se?” (Did I not pay to have you?) is still used in Rwandan homes when a woman tries to rebel in her home. A reminder that she is a private property. The amount of cows (old form of money) depended on how much the father estimated the beauty of his daughter-to-be-sold. That’s harsh? Think about the act itself.
When it came to sex, rape was scripted in such a way that it became part of the rituals. The newly wed couple would wrestle till the man overpowers the young girl. And that was acceptable. Then you would argue, that cannot be true. What about kunyaza? Why would the man insist on making the woman squirt if he didn’t care? Well, if he cared so much he wouldn’t marry a child, force himself into her and shame her with names like Mukagatare if she did not squirt at all. On the other hand, a man who wouldn’t succeed to have overpower the bride and have sex with her for at least the first three nights was shamed. Then in some cases, his father, more experienced in the matter, would get in the mix to rape the girl and set the example. That too was culturally accepted and called gukazanura.
When I mentioned that we come from a culture of rapists, I got lynched on twitter. I understand we highly think ourselves. Myths have it that some of us are semi gods bla bla bla… maybe that’s where our sense of entitlement comes from. To think we are the epitome of greatness. I get it when feminist stand to fight patriarchy. It is stupid and totally fucked up! But what are you replacing it with? In the end we all know that power corrupts even the best of us. You would think Rwanda, having the highest number of women in parliament all these years and having some of the best rankings with #HeForShe is better suited to reform the patriarch system but guess what? When I tweeted about the insane amount of under-age girls raped while nobody mentioned the rapists’ whereabouts or any social justice procedure, I fell off my chair to learn that the resolution from the parliament, with the highest number of women seats in the world, was to jail any girl who would have sex before she is eighteen. Your men must be proud of you, ladies. You are officially condoning rape and damaging the victims.
However some young woke women have had enough of this shit and are taking the matter in their own hands to seek social justice realizing that as years go by, their scars open wide while sexual predators who had assaulted them roam freely and continue to prey on other women, making new victims. @My250Tweets which is a collective twitter handle created by a Rwandan woman for the purpose of allowing Rwandans across the world to share their experiences, is being used as a platform to give a voice to rape victims coping with trauma in an insensitive system that does not want to take responsibility.
While I personally know some of the alleged rapists as people whom I drink, play, interact with often; some of them have qualities that I look up to but that does not mean they are incapable of rape. You have heard of pedophile priests, intellectual genocidaires, corrupt leaders… most of these characters actually use their influence commit these crimes.
Article 11: Rwandan culture as a source of home-grown solutions
In order to build the nation, promote national culture and restore dignity, Rwandans, based on their values, initiate home-grown mechanisms to deal with matters that concern them. Laws may establish different mechanisms for home-grown solutions
Our constitution is pro-homegrown solutions. This is how you see fit and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s an upgrade of the traditional courts taken notches up.
“The tendency to aggression is an innate, independent, instinctual disposition in man… it constitutes the powerful obstacle to culture.” – Sigmund Freud
I am not pointing fingers here. All I am saying is that we, men, are weird beings in our nature and we need to keep each other in check. And ladies, please don’t be shy at pointing at those sexist comments, jokes that we make. We won’t know if you don’t tell us your perspectives. Sorry it’s too much work but we are in this life together. I am so sorry for all you have been through as a people.
As for the legal procedure, I am not familiar with how Rwandan police deals with rape cases that are reported a while after the crime has been committed and there is no evidence. But somebody said that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, right? If your name is dropped, you probably have something to do with it. But obviously anyone accused of rape would defend themselves with phrases like “I didn’t do it.” “I don’t know that woman.” “I have never met that woman.” “We used to date; I didn’t give her the ring. She got mad. Bitches be crazy.”
Now I am just here wondering what is the way forward?
- How do you know the victims or the alleged rapists are telling the truth? You put them under the lie detector?
- What do the rape victims want to be done for them?
- What do the rape victims want to be done to the rapists?
- Can one victim’s testimonial be considered as evidence?
- Can more than one testimonial be considered as evidence?
- What happens if the alleged rapist is proven innocent but their reputation has been damaged?
- What happens to the victims whose identity has been publicly revealed?