Being raped means having your vagina, anus or mouth penetrated without giving your consent, either with a penis or anything else.
Giving consent means that you have agreed to what is happening. You need to make the decision without fear or threat: if someone threatens or hurts you to make you say 'yes', it's not consent!
Neither is silence. Rape can happen if someone is physically forcing you to have sex with them, but they could also blackmail you, or threaten you in another way. It is also rape if someone takes advantage of you while you are asleep, unconscious or on drugs or alcohol.
After you have been raped, the best thing is to go to a hospital as fast as you can. You will want to shower and throw away your clothes, but don't! Your rapist's fingerprints and other things are important evidence of what happened to you. Wrap your clothes in newspapers since plastic can destroy evidence.
At the hospital, you will be checked for STDs, be given emergency contraception and possibly post-exposure prophylaxis, to keep you from getting HIV.
And as hard as it may be, the second stop should be at the police station. Rape is illegal, and reporting the rapist may feel like it's doing nothing to help you – but you will feel better afterwards.
You might also want to get counseling to get over your horrific experience.
Women often know their attacker. In fact, rape in marriage is one of the most common forms of sexual assaults, and hugely underreported. Some husbands feel like they have the right to have sex from their wives, whether the wife agrees or not. This is not true! Neither a husband nor a wife has the right to demand sex or ignore a 'no'.
Marital rape can in some ways be more hurtful than rape by a stranger. First, because it's usually repeated or a usual occurrence. Also, because it destroys all trust you may have had in your partner.
In Kenya, there is no legal protection for rape in marriage. What's more shocking than that is that in many countries still, it is something that is accepted by the society as normal. But women shouldn't be seen as their husband’s property, but as people making their own decisions – also about their sex lives!
Rape is the most under-reported of all crimes, according to the American Medical Association. That's because many victims think that it's a private or personal matter. And with up to 95 per cent of all sexual assaults being committed by someone the victim knows, it's not surprising that victims are afraid of the consequences of reporting the cases.
Almost all reports of rape are made for male-female rape. Only recently, research on male-male and female-male rape has started, but so far, there is barely any information on female-female rape.
There is a furious debate at the moment about the causes of rape. Shouldn't women wear miniskirts, drink alcohol or go out on their own? Or is porn causing violence against women?
If someone is out late at night and you don’t like the look of their clothes, the judge will not excuse you for murdering them because you felt like it. The same goes for rape. The law doesn’t allow you to kill people if you’re in a bad mood, or rape people because you feel turned on.
Unfortunately, rape is an unusual case and women are often accused of ‘bringing it on themselves’.
But it’s always wrong to blame the victim. Rape is not the victim's fault. And victims should not be humiliated by police officers, abandoned by their families or forced to marry their rapists.
What we can all do is start accepting that everybody has the right to choose when and with whom they want to have sex. 'No' means 'no' and there mustn't be any exceptions to that rule.
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