I totally understand someone who chooses to remain silent and not report a perpetrator for fear of the abuse that mounts on victims. I understand the arrogance of some perpetrators when such a development happens and escalation of some crimes when no reports are made. Society tends to empower perpetrators while victimising victims.
Not long ago, my son was stitched on the side of his nose following an attack by fellow students at one of the universities. Nobody deserves such brutality under whatever circumstance. As his parents, our many obligations is to ensure his safety and protection at all cost. We jumped to the occasion and followed up the matter. The suspects were subsequently apprehended and are awaiting trial.
Some friends to the suspects immediately reacted, blaming my son and his family for seeking justice. As far as they were concerned, we should have just let it go, sought apologies—which were never offered by the way as nobody accepted responsibility— and move on. They clearly undermined his physical and emotional pains, the sleepless nights, nightmares, disturbance to his family and classes he missed because to them, it was ‘one of those things’. Now, we are talking about three blows to the face and head with five glass bottles that bruised and scarred his beautiful face. He requires counselling, several trips to the hospital, police and court appearance that perpetually remind him of the brutal attack, prayers to heal him and close family supervision. And then someone somewhere believes the perpetrators are suddenly the victims.
Some months ago, a young girl was allegedly defiled and impregnated by a relation. When news of the matter first broke out, the attention shifted to this poor girl, amid splashes of her photos on the social media. Many commented to the effect that she may have been provocative to the relation who was her guardian. Her dressing and conduct were brought under the spotlight, with the so-called experts claiming the uncle could not have done otherwise. How could she have been so ‘polished’, others asked referring to her well kempt appearance. Some paraded the ‘agreement’ theory—that the two consented. The victim became the perpetrator here as accusations came to the effect that she must have enjoyed the episodes.
Such examples are abound. However, it’s always easy for spectators to judge and blame. It’s only when one has gone through some form of victimisation that one understands. But even before experiencing it, it’s always better to shut up and let a process take its course. If we believe in one party to a conflict, shut up and allow the due process to vindicate them.
We are within the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) which runs from 25 November to 10 December 2021. It is clear that some people, especially men, shy away from reporting any form of abuse in fear of public reaction. Insensitive comments victimise GBV survivors over and over again, defeating the wheels of justice in the process. When not our family members or acquaintances that are affected, society tends to judge. Stop it! It’s criminal too and victims are at liberty to include you on the list of their grievances.