Nigeria’s epidemic rape cases
By Babatunde Olorunleke
Rape cases in Nigeria are on the increase and at very alarming rate. Reports of rapes floor pages of newspapers everyday. It is heart breaking to know that children and adults live with such terror.
Rape is a conscious process of intimidation, where in, perpetrators keep women and children especially, in a state of constant fear. Rape devalues the victim, it is a crime which stigmatize the emotion, a crime of insult, oppression and revenge that needs to be punished because a rapist is a criminal and all crimes and their perpetrators must be punished.
Rape and other forms of sexual harassments need the urgent and serious attention of family, institutions, civil society groups, government and the international community if we really want to have a violence free society for all.
Cases of sexual violence have increased. Earlier this week, a pastor was alleged to have molested and raped a three-year-old baby, he was remanded in prison for defiling this innocent child.
Recently, there were 150 reported cases of sexual and physical abuse recorded in Ondo state for one year period as of June 2019.
A non governmental organization with the name Ster Nigeria led by Mr. Oluwaseun Ayodeji, in their report in the last one year said they have treated about 589 cases ranging from sexual abuse, physical abuse and child labour.
It is alarming the frequency of these occurrences. They seem to have grown in frequency maybe because our institutions are not dealing with the perpetrators.
There was a case of a 44-year-old man who defiled his young house help, he actually confessed to have had sexual intercourse with her several times and it resulted to pregnancy. What then can we make of a man who raped three school girls, what can we say about that?
In a survey carried out by a daily newspaper on rape in Nigerian universities, it discovered that 100 per cent of rape/sexually harassed victims are female students, of that number, 67 per cent did nothing after they were raped, while 33 per cent made some kind of feeble report of being raped to friends, a course adviser and other reports to their parents or guardians.
If that number above decide to keep quiet after they have been raped by lecturers and fellow students, it means that we have one hell of a problem on our hands.
Keeping quiet after being raped may just be one very good reason why the crime is on the rise in Nigeria. We found out as well that most people keep quiet because they do not have confidence in the institution that should champion their cause. This lack of confidence can make people resort to self help in the resolution of incidences of rape and sexual molestation.
Despite what were reported, there are still many unreported cases because of the stigma associated with the act. Most rape victims suffer trauma, inability to forge meaningful relationship with the opposite sex, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted disease, mental disorder and a feeling of low self esteem. We need to accept that it is a social problem that needs our collective commitment.
A good number of perpetrators of rape move about freely on the streets after committing this heinous act due to poor investigation and inherent defects in the criminal justice system. Sadly, numbers of conviction are abysmally low against the prevalence of rape in our country. The Ondo state police command recorded over 100 rape cases this year, but did not state number of prosecutions or convictions.
Reporting this crime is the safest way of preventing others from becoming victims. Ignoring the issue will also teach the younger generation that they can get away with such crime. Victims should learn to speak up, as in so doing the crime can be tackled.
Rape victims should get justice and they should also undergo rehabilitation. Children should be sensitised on how to react when they are touched appropriately. It is time for the nation to stand up against the crime. We need to do something about it now.
A public analyst, Mrs. Yetunde Adeniyi said rape is a serious issue that needs urgent attention from reasonable men and women , for the fact that it has moved to our places of worships is worrisome. She continued by saying, human beings are created to be rational and reasonable but atrocities, such as rape has indicated otherwise.
In her word, “if being reasonable is a demand of living, rather than increase, rape figures should be nosediving. One therefore, wonders if we are losing the war on sensibility”.
The rise in rape cases clearly suggest that some men and women rather than use their brains prefer to be controlled by their emotions. And in doing this, they cause discomfort to other people.
She added that, while government, especially in the developed countries have made some kind of progress still we are not there yet, these government may have done more than the ordinary to sensibly criminalise this act, the question is are they doing enough compared with the scale of the occurrences. The consensus however, is that no matter the prevailing culture supporting or encouraging rape acts, government, leaders and all right thinking human beings should be campaigning tougher sentences that is the more reason I lauded the senators for proposing death penalty for a convicted rapists.
An activist, Comrade Adebisi Olaoluwa reacted by saying, it is alarming the prevalence of rape in our country but there is hope rising in the horizon though, as individuals, charities and non-governmental organizations are giving voices to the victims of rape. Of recent, some Nigerians have in their individual capacities been waging war on rape.
Not that they have formed vigilante groups to stop perpetrators, nor are they parading the streets looking for rape victims, No. They have, as kind hearted patriotic and reasonable citizens been using their private resources to campaign for a change of perception towards rape victims in the country, they are also determined to ensure identified victims of rape are not denied justice that is why Pastor Fatoyinbo and Busola Dakolo case causes a lot of uproar and massive support for the victim.
She continued by saying, “I am particularly impressed by the rising voices of these individuals that are constantly hammering on this subject, these are not jobless people, but individuals concerned over plight of thousand of victims who rarely get justice in Nigeria. A particular friend of mine in recent weeks used his personal social media channel to focus on rape in Nigeria. He has been seeking justice in his personal capacity for a housemaid who was raped by the husband of her employer. With these individuals, there is hope that there will be reduction soon in the number of rape cases, there may not be drastic reduction, but the efforts will no doubt make a difference.
A Human Right Lawyer, Barrister Patience Zakari is of the view that rape is evil but the shame and stigmatization of rape victims have been going on for long. Unfortunately this trend has contributed to the continued perpetration of this criminal act: a United Nation Children Education Fund (UNICEF), report titled ” Hidden is plain slight” said in part that “around 120 million girls world wide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives” this statistics should bring the reality of the magnitude home for everyone.
It must however be noted that the figures reported here are mainly of those that were identified. Of every one case that is reported, there are surely tens that never made the books.
She averred that, the reporting of rape cases, especially in Nigeria is very challenging, yet we cannot deny the fact that rape happens every second. Statistics revealed that living in certain parts of Nigeria exposes one to rape attack than in other.
In Nigeria there are no accurate statistics for rape cases, we can excuse this as even economic policies are drafted without correct statistics. This has not taken away the fact that rape in endemic in the country.
In her words “we can recollect the infamous gang rape story that came out from a south east university sometimes ago. Do we know how many house maids are regularly raped by the employers? Or how many students are raped in our universities? To be honest, rape over the years had become parts of the workings in Nigeria systems. Various governments have turned blind eyes to it and pretend it is nothing that calls for urgent attention, the executive, legislature and judiciary have not done anything historic that is why we keep on hearing stories of rape here and there”. I implore our government to do more in tackling this national issue. We have agencies fighting corruption in Nigeria, why not create an agency solely for the protection of the women against molestation, rape and sexual abuse.