I hate to be naive. And I cannot pretend to agree with naive people.
As a woman, when I hear someone says, “If you don’t want to be raped, don’t wear revealing clothes,” I cannot stop the questions that ring in my head. Questions like: “What about rape victims who are old or children? Are they so irresistable that men cannot help but robbing them of their rights to their own body?”
Linking rape to a woman’s clothes is like generalizing all men as potential “rapists”, that they cannot act with empathy and rationality, that they have no capacity to respect the inherent rights of others. I believe this is instinctual. It’s what distinguishes us from animals. We are God’s creature blessed with the ability to act not just on our biological urge, but also with empathy and rationality.
Assuming that clothes makes a person a rape target is unfair to men who can also be victims of sexual violence. It’s akin to being fearful of men in our lives. As long as we believe that a woman’s body causes a rape, that it arouses men to commit an assault, we are turning a blind’s eye to the real drive behind rape, which is the rapist’s intention to dominate the victim.
We often hear: “This is what you need to do if you don’t want to be raped.” But we never hear, “Do not rape! Respect the rights and boundaries of others.”
Women are not the only victims of sexual violence, men and children are too. It’s not about us against other people or us against the world. It’s about us against ourselves, our own ways to stop us from commiting a sexual crime .
As humans, we should respect others. We should teach our children to live with empathy and practice rationality. Teach them that as humans, they are born with these. Raise our kids to be independent and strong people, who can look at problems surrounding them objectively, and find the root of the problems to resolve them. Teach them that whatever clothes they wear, they remain beautiful and respectable. And teach our children to respect the rights of others, for that is an important part of being human.
Nadia Hana Abraham is a student in Jakarta. She can be reached at [email protected] or as @NadiaAbraham97 on Twitter.
To continue the conversation and support the campaign against sexual violence, visit campaign.com/mulaibicara.