In our society, both men and women are sexually assaulted. One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some time in their lives, but on university campuses, while the rate for women remains the same at one in 5, the rate for men increases to one in 16 men (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2015). Unfortunately, over 90 per cent of the sexual assault victims do not report the incidents that take place on campuses (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2015). In the society at large, 63 per cent of all rapes are not reported to police. It was further added that 91 per cent of all rape victims are women, with the remaining 9 per cent of them being male (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2015).
Rape is sometimes thought of as sex, but it is not; rape is about power and control. These are astounding statistics that demand that young people everywhere should be concerned and should ensure that they are neither offenders nor victims. And they should make every effort to stamp out this vile practice.
In more recent times, there has been greater exposure of some older individuals, mostly males, taking advantage of younger people, some of whom have been recruited to be sexually abused for the pleasure of these older individuals. Other victims find themselves in difficult work situations, where they are forced through circumstances, to endure this abuse in order to keep their jobs. Other forms of sexual violence include unwanted touching, comments about a person’s sexuality or other forms of sexual harassment. Sexual violence in any of its forms is never acceptable behaviour.
However, in explaining why he or she may have engaged in this despicable act of sexual violence, a younger offender may point out that he or she went to the movies, bought dinner, and there was expectation of spending the evening together and of being sexually intimate. Other offenders may try to argue that they were not discouraged and there was an understanding that there would be sexual intimacy.
In many instances, older adults who prey on younger victims may often deny the encounters even took place, or may explain that they had permission for sexual intimacy, even when it was proven that their younger victims were below the age of consent.
But the defense that victims often put forward is that they never agreed implicitly or otherwise to be sexually involved. Victims sometimes explain that they did not actually and willingly give their consent, and that at a particular point in their encounter, they expressed their unwillingness to continue to be involved in sexual activity: they said “No”.
When someone says “No”, regardless of when this is expressed, an offender does not have an excuse. Any type of sexual activity must involve consent. If a young man or woman does not give consent, but the other party forces sexual intimacy, then the activity can be rightly considered rape.
A guideline for a young man or young woman to follow is that consent could never be assumed or implied. And silence does not represent an absence of “No”. Even if consent was given at one time, that consent could be withdrawn at any time. The word “No” indicates that the person speaking does not give consent or has withdrawn consent that may have been previously given.
And this is to be understood as “No means No.” Under no circumstances, should one individual make the decision to rape another. Under no circumstances, should an offender be excused for raping a victim. This is a despicable act that must be condemned.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Info & Stats for Journalists, 2012, 2013, 2015. https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-packet_statistics-about-sexual-violence_0.pdf