Mali : Is a rape victim also guilty?

This question, it must be conceded, is as awkward as the reprehensible act to which it refers. But this is one of the debates that has been thrilled with anger since the beginning of the week in a surprising country. Because Mali is surprising. First, let’s start at the beginning: Monday, June 26, till now unverified information, reported rape cases in Bamako National Park on girls who are between 12 and 16 years of age by boys aged 15- 18 years old.

On one hand, it is the condemnation that falls on acts of violence that nothing, but absolutely nothing, can justify. On the other hand, a sort of Pavlovian reflex is pointing an accusing finger at today’s girls who dress badly or “provocatively”. So, a way of finding a justification, which refers straight away to the vision as old as the hills that one has of the woman in a patriarchal society having a sickly relation to her. For that is what we are dealing with: our relationship with women, which is a subject that nobody wants to talk about in a society caught up in conservatism, misogynist mentalities and male authoritarianism. According to this vision that we serve on social networks, especially this kingdom of trash that Facebook is, girls are somehow guilty of their rape because they dress indecently or have provocative appearance. A simple and simplistic vision that confirms what everyone already knows: society is in decline, ill, in advanced moral, intellectual decomposition, disfigured, unrecognizable. It is an appalling diagnosis that is now admitted without flinching.

In this society, as everywhere or almost, the conquest of women, prey of seduction, is a glory for men. But, as the writer Fatoumata Keïta brilliantly tells us in her beautiful romantic trilogy, our society has its feet in the past and the head in the 21st century. It also gives a society crossed with contradictions, including the question of the status of women, which remains a knot to resolve. The question of rape is also a subject that has not yet been touched, where some Cécile de Volanges, naïve, innocent, timid, continue to be victims of the Valmont, frustrated and watered with sexual scenes available free on the Internet. Those who have read Laclos’ Liaisons dangereuses know what it is all about. But what remains to be said about these alleged cases of rape in the National Park is the essential. Are the victims of rape guilty? To have been indecently dressed, with bad hairstyles, with good make up and even to be pretty? No, to say that would be to declare ourselves in solidarity with a behavior, an act that we are constantly condemning. Appearance and dress cannot be an excuse. For a sexual assault is also a dreadful dignity, a disgrace, a shame for the victim, a bruised and desecrated body, a trauma from which it is difficult to recover. So questions like “How were you dressed?” with your permission, are questions of “shit”, murderous. And, no need to remind, there is no good or bad victim.

Boubacar Sangaré

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