Where Is The Outrage Against Rape?

For over two weeks the Indian Press kept the world glued to the touching story of a young female student gang raped in a moving bus.  Sustained countrywide protests were staged as ordinary Indian citizens poured into the streets in their thousands to empathize and demand justice. Precisely a week after the New Dehli incident, a 4 year old girl was raped and murdered in Mombasa County by a man paid to protect her family’s property. As keen observers in mainstream press pointed out, the general outrage on social media hardly made a bleep. Only a single politician from the Coast said a word about it and by time the fake cop saga came around a day later the national conversation shifted to the more sensational story.  The reaction to the story online was characterized by anger and male commentators majorly advocated for the death penalty,  an eye for eye but it did not last more than a day.

As decent men, we shudder even at the thought of hitting a woman. This is one of those myths that re-frame rape when we assign it to outsiders and strangers who use sex as violence against those they hate or envy. The imagery presented, is one of a dehumanized male figure, clinically deranged, economically emasculated, socially dis-empowered, and reduced to a beast that deserves no pity. Yet as the Mombasa incident reminds us, a large number of the rape victims are assaulted in environments that are supposed to be safe and by people they know and trust.

Acquaintance has given many men the license to abuse, especially in marriages where women are deemed to be property. Consequently, incest raises its ugly head. We frequently hear about cases of underage children only because the injuries are easier to detect. It is important to remember that the victim does not have to be threatened with a dangerous weapon or be injured for an incident to be considered rape. Coercion or threat of violence is usually sufficient to make most people succumb. These cases are rarely reported because the person concerned is a decent man with a clean reputation. The victim is left facing the social ridicule of accusing her husband of rape. She will suffer blame for provoking the situation by being stubborn, dressing inappropriately or simply forgetting her place.

The culture of blame keeps the victims silent and the pressure of not bringing shame to the family’s good name buries the incident. The chips funga mentality a recent urban euphemism for casual sex preaches that female sexual consent is something that can be bartered with drinks. Naive girls are caught in a drunken game where the line between seduction and rape gets blurry with every shot of tequila. The influence of hardcore porn and popular lit has blurred the boundaries of rape fantasies to feed the message that sexual violence is a sign of passion and love which keeps many women chained to abusive relationships.

That said it is worth remembering that rape is about making sense of sex and rapists paint a clear picture of how society socializes its men.  As the dominant group, men have to start to understand the privilege of an institutionalized patriarchal system and how that privilege is abused.  The excesses of male power over women have made sexual violence a staple news item. We conspire with the rapists by staying silent and promoting the notion that is OK for men to punish and control women through sex.


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Oyunga Pala is a Kenyan writer, curator and editor. This blog examines the texture of everyday Kenyan and African life and the challenges of modernity and disillusion. The writings commonly feature the struggle of the Kenyan male to maintain integrity in contemporary society.


  1. That last paragraph summed it all up..female consent has been degraded to just a non-functional ideology..nobody takes it serious anymore..

    • Glad you see the sense Ongre, it is easy to dismiss the issue of consent as another feminist rant but the Mombasa incident is just the tip of the iceberg and it shows how low we have gotten. If rape is accepted as normal crime everyone suffers and soon enough men who think ‘it could never happen to me’ will be next in line as regular victims of random crime. What’s the saying, ‘if your neighbours roof is on fire, help him put it out if you want to keep your house safe’.

  2. Ricky Lihumi

    To live in a society that heralds itself as being openly sensitive to the plight of rape and yet only to be derailed by what the media considers to be good ratings is shameful to say the least.

  3. Rape is a horrendous crime! I would like to talk about what I think are all the issues that possibly (I have no scientific evidence to prove it) lead to the point where men think they are entitled to or can get away with rape. There are several sorts of abuse that a woman cannot really take to the cop station such as emotional and verbal abuse -> how would one go about explaining such issues to the cops? Do you see them lending a sympathetic ear? Hmmm? Neither can I take them to my mother – > who suffered tremendously at the hands of my father. So where does that leave me? ALL ALONE!!

    I’m in a relationship. A loving one and my boyfriend loves me or he thinks he does. When he puts me down and flirts with other girls – he doesn’t know what he is doing me – because no one ever told him. I will probably marry him (because he is better than the rest) BUT my sons – if I do get any – they will never rise a hand or a voice to a woman. They will treat them with respect and dignity …. because I am here and my voice will be heard.

  4. Rape is a vile sin! Shall we crucify the men and forget to also point out the women? The women outnumber men by three to one. Because of pride and sheer stupid vanity, the cases of men being the victims go unreported. somebody wants to still look macho despite having been coerced into intercourse! No one should be forced or influenced to jump into bed with anyone. It should be consent without undue influence.

    • Important to remember though, the vulnerable especially underage girls are in disproportionate danger of rape than any group. When dealing with a crisis, one starts with the most hurt.

  5. I find that over time it has become easier and easier for people to use the word “rape” in other contexts. I think then that as the word becomes common it loses meaning and does not evoke the same intense reaction that it should.

  6. Absolutely agree with @F_Ongre – female consent means nothing, what matters is what the man/men want.

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