What ‘NO’ and ‘STOP’ means

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Josephine Teakeni and Georgianna Sogotee on behalf of Vois Blong Mere Solomon and Women For Peace
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THIS month, we have shared feelings of great anger, shame and grief.

We are angry that our children are not safe from the most cruel and devastating violence of rape.

We are ashamed that our community makes excuses for these inexcusable acts.

And we grieve for the victims of these horrors, for their families and for our country.

By now everyone must have read or heard about the rape of young children across our islands.

We write on behalf of Vois Blong Mere and Women for Peace to condemn these perpetrators in the strongest terms.

You may also have read or listened to the opinion of your fellow citizens about these heinous crimes?

We write today to condemn all those who apologise for and reason away these acts of violence.

These people, who make excuses, make our community unsafe for victims to come forward.

These apologists for rape and paedophilia allow perpetrators to walk free because they see rape as the fault of victims, their guardians, or as a man’s right; rape is none of these things. Rape is a crime that ruins lives.

In the Island Sun on Thursday March 22, three men and three women were asked – ‘What is the cause for men raping a child and how can we avoid such behaviour?’

Every person questioned made excuses, saying that rape happens when women ‘overlook’ their husband’s rights, parents aren’t watching their children, men are stressed, or their ancestors raped so it is genetic, the devil tempts us, or men don’t understand women who act without inhibition.

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We tell you now – every man knows what the word NO means, every man knows what the word STOP means and every man can and must stop.

Are we not made in God’s image according to His likeness?

We all know what a man’s role is: to provide, protect and make a safe space for his family.

No good or god-fearing man would wish rape upon his mother, sister or daughter.

There is no reason for rape other than insanity. And no victim of rape has any responsibility for that crime.

Women, children, all of us have a right to be safe and to control what happens to our bodies. It does not matter if children are alone or young women are drinking.

I call on all of you who read or listen to this statement to think seriously about this scourge in our community and the part you can play in correcting it.

Mothers and fathers – speak to your sons about respect and women’s rights. Talk about what it means to be a good man.

Men – do not be complicit when you see harassment, hear jokes about hurting women or witness threatening behaviour by your friends.

Women –do not tolerate excuses, blame victims or contribute to a culture of silence. Be advocates for survivors.

My thoughts are with all the survivors within our community and I pray every day for our families and our country to be safe and free.

–VOIS BLO MERE SI

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