I’m very proud to be born into a generation where girls are no longer afraid to speak up about abuse from men. As someone put it quite aptly, we did not inherit our mothers’ silence. Still, breaking the cycle of generational silence remains complicated because girls still have to live in a world that is harshly skewed against them. Recently, BBC broke a documentary about lecturers who request for sex from female students in exchange for grades.
The situation hit really close to home because I am a student myself and trust me, I know what it means for lecturers to wield power over female students and compromise their grades. So I am very grateful that the conversation is now out in the open and more students are speaking up.
Hopefully, the rage goes beyond social media. While the story continues to unfold, I wrote a few ways we can all get involved.
Do not victim-blame
Do not be that person that blames the victim for the incident, whether based on how they looked, dressed or what they did. This preposterous act happens everywhere and to all kinds of girls. Regardless of if they are wearing jeans or a burqa. The only person you should blame is the perpetrator of the act.
Do not be an apologist
Making excuses for these dirty behaviours is nearly as bad as committing them. People saying that the news damages the reputation of the culprits or the institutions are giving room for more of these incidents to occur. The days are gone when we cover up for culprits and expose the victims to stigma, shame and ridicule.
Say the names of these oppressors and let them own their crime.
Find your voice and the courage to let people know what you are going through. Yes, society is so warped that a good number may not listen, but there are bodies and organizations dedicated to helping women and girls in these situations. Try your best to find these people.
Teach other boys
From a young age, boys should be taught to respect girls. So that when they are old, it’s ingrained in them to know that not groping or harassing a girl is not a superpower. It’s a normal, healthy thing to do. Girls need to learn from a young age the magic that is self-worth and self-respect, and these things will shape a mindset that can take over the world.