Rights come with responsibility— Otiko justifies advice on short dress

Gender Minister, Otiko Djaba, says there is nothing wrong with her advice to girls that inappropriate dressing could invite rape.

She said, contrary to criticisms that the advice reflected a warped view of rape, she admonished girls to desist from wearing very short dresses out of concern for them.

“Every right has a responsibility. If you have a right to speak, it doesn’t mean you should say just anything,” he told Citi FM.

The Gender Minister received a backlash, especially on social media, when she told students at the 90th anniversary and speech and prize giving day of the Krobo Girls Presbyterian Senior School that “if you wear a short dress, it’s fashionable but know that it can attract somebody who would want to rape or defile you.”

Critics say her pronouncements were unfortunate because the narrative of shifting blame from rapists and sex offenders onto rape victims have been long done away with.

However, she says she does not regret giving the advice.

“If I say you have a right to dress the way you want, then you must be aware that how you dress could provoke somebody else. You must make a choice in your best interest and as a parent, I have every right to advise my children. I am a Krobo, and I was talking to my own sisters and children,” she defends.

She also suggests that her comments about short dresses were taken out of context by the media.

“People must understand that, when we speak, the journalists will pick what they want from it. I will plead with the media to stop focusing on me and concentrate on the real issues. I know that bad news sells because all the other things I said at the programme were not reported because they were good and people like to talk about negative news.”

She, however, said she was happy with her comments as it had “opened up a discussion about ourselves as a people.”