‘No’ was a bad word in my home,

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No was met with the lash, erased from our vocabulary,
beaten out of our backs,
till we became well-behaved kids
who obediently nodded yes to everything,
when he climbed on top of me
every part of my body wanted to reject it
but I couldn’t say no to save my life,
when I tried to scream all that escaped me was silence,
I hear no pounding her fist on the roof of my mouth,
begging to let her out,
but I had not put up the exit sign,
never built the emergency staircase,
there was no trapdoor for no to escape from,
I want to ask all the parents and guardians a question,
what use was obedience then
when there were hands that were not mine inside me.
How can I verbalize consent as an adult if I was
never taught to as a child.”
The above piece was taken from my new favourite novel, ‘The Sun and Her Flowers’ written by Rupi Kaur.
Rape, a four-letter word that makes every victim tremble by the sound of it. One in six women has been a victim of
an attempted or completed rape. Therefore, between me, my mother, my two grandmothers and any of my two aunts, any one of us may have or will encounter an attempted or completed rape. Rape is a type of sexual assault that usually involves sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent. The stereotypical idea of a rapist (someone who commits rape) is a man in dark clothing, a mask or hoodie over his head, walking behind a woman in a dark alleyway. NO! A rapist can be anyone, from any gender, age, with any type of clothing, at any place and time. What is devastating the most is that most rapists are known to the victims. Family, friends and even spouses/partners. Yes, that’s right, marital or spousal rape is not a myth. No matter what the case may be, you have a right to say NO and your NO is not invalid towards another person’s lust. Our bodies are temples, our bodies are ours. Any person who violates your body without your consent, violates the law as well. The fact that sex is still stigmatised in Guyana and around the world makes it harder for victims to speak out. Somehow, people will look past the fact that you were forced against your own will and still think, ‘you had sex’ or ‘you committed infidelity or adultery.’ Victim-blaming and slut-shaming victims is getting pretty old, I’ll tell you that. We look to blame everything else, except the rapist. A victim’s clothes do not speak, their past does not speak, their location does not speak, and nothing else rather than the verbal consent of a person should give you the right to have sex with them.
Here is Tonya Charles, explaining her view on this topic:
“Rape is an illicit sexual activity carried out forcibly on someone, either male or female, against their will; on someone who is not yet at the age of consent; someone under the influence of alcohol that cannot make rational decisions and someone who is incapable of giving consent due to mental illnesses. Rape is oftentimes overlooked when it happens to a man. If a woman is raped, a lot of effort goes into bringing her justice. Whereas, in the case of a male (specifically those above the age of 13), the situation isn’t seen as one that serious because “men can’t get raped.”
I have focused my writing mainly on consent. The number of times you’ve read the word NO in this piece perhaps equals the same number of time victims screamed it,
over and over again, yet they were still raped. In their minds, they probably believed the rapist did not speak their language.
Somehow, the word NO to them lost its meaning after the rape. After the act is reported, I find it offensive when people say, ‘your rapist.’ They do not own you.
You are in control of your body, of your future.
It is very important that we all understand that the word NO is ours and it is important that those with thoughts of
committing rape understand that it is extremely wrong and unlawful to force a sexual act upon someone against their will, against their consent.

Let us make it easy for victims to speak out, especially men. Let us not find excuses for rapists and let us make our country safer, for our children and their children.
The law is with us, but oftentimes the law enforcers are not. I hope, they as well, understand the seriousness of this topic. It is important for you, the victims to
speak out, so that the cycle of that rapist ends with you and you prevent someone else from being raped. It is also important to note that having sexual intercourse with a child (under the age of 16) is considered statutory rape and is against the law in Guyana.

You are not a tease, a toy and it is not your fault.
We should teach our children, especially boys, to accept the word no, instead of teaching our girls to dress in robes. No matter who you are, a sex worker, male or female, old or young — NO means NO.

If you by chance have been raped, been an attempted victim, know of someone who is a victim or even if you are having thoughts of raping someone or already did so, you should contact a teacher,nurse,police officer and any other state worker; they will refer your case to the relevant authorities (child protection officer).