It’s amazing just where you get one of those life changing epiphanies that totally leave you breathless and ready to do your bit. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a few in my lifetime but this time, I was left in real pain and its amazing where all this happened to me.
I was at a friends housewarming fete, thinking I was going to enjoy a few drinks and maybe laugh a bit. That’s not what really transpired; I got a drink, yes, but a laugh, no. I was chatting with one young lady, who’s in the country doing wonderful work for an NGO that help orphans.
As I should have expected from a razor sharp Oxford student, matters were bound to get a bit more serious than I’d bargained for. I first got an impromptu history lesson about the Scottish-English disagreement (she’s Scottish) and, an hour later, I got another lesson on gender relations.
She was a smart one, that lady; she started with, what they call in baseball, that All-American sport, a ‘curveball’ and when I was left flailing at it, she came in for the kill.
“Did you know that a woman is raped every six hours in Rwanda”, she asked. No, I hadn’t actually and I’m pretty sure that a lot of people had no idea as well. I thought that she was mixing up her stats but here is a quote from the speech that the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Rwanda, Mr Aurelien A. Agbenonci, gave on the opening of the recently concluded Development Partners meeting that occurred on the 27th November; “police reports indicate that one woman is raped every six hours”.
Wow. That’s about four women a day. If you compare our statistics to, say, the United States or South Africa, you’ll say that we aren’t doing too badly. But, according to the U.S based NGO, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 60% of all rape cases in the US aren’t reported to the police.
This is in a country where women are given more support from the law enforcement mechanism, and where women are more likely to fight for their rights. So, I can imagine that the large majority of abused women in this country of ours just suffer in silence.
Trust me; it hurt me that someone, who was just someone passing through, could know this terrible fact while, I, a person with an ear to the ground, was blissfully unaware of this fact.
Women are an important part of my life; I have two sisters and lots of lady friends and I’m scared that they will one day, God forbid, become another statistic. You know something?
As we talked, this Scottish lass and I, I was put more and more on the defensive. She gave me scenario’s that got trickier by the moment.
“If she came into your room would you assume that she wanted to sleep with you”. “Umm…no”. “If she jumped into bed…would you then assume”?
“If you were married…would you assume that you could sleep with her as a matter of right”?
“Certainly not”, I answered indignantly. But then a friend of mine, male of course, expressed the view that the marriage contract meant that there was no way that rape could exist under wedlock.
That debate raged on and on. On one side stood the Scottish feminist and on the other was the classical Rwandan male; it was ugly but interesting.
I quickly realized that the problem wasn’t, as many lazy people think, a matter of the fact that men are being just ‘men’ i.e. unable to control their urges, but rather a case of men forgetting just what being a ‘man’ should be all about.
Real men, as opposed to these monsters giving the good ones a bad name, respect women and treat them with the care they deserve…without thinking them inferior.
If we, guys, remember just what our roles, as men are all about, we won’t have to force ourselves on our sisters. Give a woman what she expects from you as a man, and here I’m not meaning anything material and you’ll find out that you needn’t force issues.