Rape is never about short skirts, desire or a woman being reckless – Ghanaian actors, feminists, and consent-advocates urge in a video aiming to bust stereotypes and myths in the west African country.
The video, titled 'How Short Was Your Skirt' was released on Monday as a reaction to a controversial statement by Ghana’s gender minister Otiko Djaba who, last month, told high school girls that while wearing a short dress might be fashionable, it "can attract someone who would want to rape or defile you.”
Her words inspired Nicole Amarteifio, the creator of hit TV series An African City, and actress and sex educationalist Nana Akosua Hanson to rally to action. They feature alongside high-profile feminists and creatives from the entertainment industry in Ghana in a public service announcement style video where they admonish the victim-blaming mindset the minister’s comments have been associated with.
Amarteifio found the belief that what someone wears can attract a rapist was common in Ghana, and the gender minister’s comments “shows how big the problem is.”
The video repeats that rape is “not about the skirt”, nor is it about desire, being in a dark alley or women not taking precautions.
“Instead of telling women what not to wear, how about teaching men just not to rape?” Amarteifio asks at the beginning of the video while holding a skirt.
“I wanted this especially to be about the skirt and to drive it home about consent,” she told Refinery29.
Amarteifio and Hanson were using social media to get the message out there.
“I am hoping that there is just that one person who needed to hear this and they hear it – whether it is a perpetrator of rape or someone who might be a victim or survivor,” Amarteifio explained.
Sexual violence rates in Ghana are a concern, and with a culture of victim-blaming, and police not taking complaints seriously, it is believed reporting rates are incredibly low. A 2008 government survey found about 19% of women had experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. In 2015 this went up to 30%.
After the nationwide backlash, Djaba defended her comments saying she wanted to help girls, and “wasn’t in anyway encouraging rape”.