By Laja Modupe Onyinyechukwu
Tears of people who have been sexually violated flood the streets of Nigeria.All I keep hearing are the silent cries of the victims ringing in my ears.Frustratingly,justice feels so far like it is beyond our fingertips. Still, we should not despair but reach all the more for it, grab it and serve it to those who deserve it.
Rape is simply an immoral and inhumane act that affects both males and females and infringes on one’s right to liberty,freedom of movement, privacy and freedom of expression.
The U.N children’s fund says that, “One in four boys and one in 10 girls under age 18 are victims of sexual violence”.
I would like to enlighten us with some real life accounts that one’s age,dressing, attitude, appearance or occupation,is no reason or form of justification for rape.
In a northern town Dangora, Kano State, a mother caught a man in her children’s bedroom. The man ran away but the neighbours gave chase and caught him was stated by Police spokesman Abdullahi Haruna. The police said that the spate of rapes included an attack on an 80-year old and children as young as 10 years old.
A 12 year old girl was raped on different occasions over a period of two months in northwest Jigawa state by 11 men.The suspects were arrested following a report where one of them tried to lure the victim in the market to a secluded place.
Barakat Bello, an 18 year old student was gang raped and murdered in her parents’ house,Akinyele area of Ibadan ,south-west Oyo state.Her Father found her dead body around their home and on examination, discovered that she was raped before she was murdered.
Three armed men gang-raped a 17-year-old street hawker at the Oja-Oba Market, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State around 7pm where they took her to a secluded area to rape her.Two suspects have been arrested.
Three survivors and their caregivers spoke about their experiences recently at the Salama Sexual Assault Referral Center in Gwanna Awan General Hospital in the northern state of Kaduna.
*One was a 3 year old girl who was under the care of her grandmother when she was raped twice by a 44 year old neighbour. The grandmother said she was reluctant to report the assault to police because she did not believe justice would be served and
because “being a poor widow, no one would believe me”. After the second attack, she fled to the Salama center for help.
*A second survivor, a woman in her late 30s said she was kidnapped while sleeping wiht her husband and child. Her abductors took her to a dense forest where she was raped everyday until a ransom was paid and she regained her freedom.
*The third survivor, a 10-year-old girl, was reportedly raped by a 29-year-old man living in her neighbourhood. He allegedly lured her, saying he wanted her to run an errand. Once they were out of sight, he allegedly stuffed her hijab into her mouth and raped her.
The results of a survey published by NOIpolls in July 2019 suggested that up to one in every three girls living in Nigeria could have experienced at least one form of sexual assault by the time they reach 25.
According to the respondents, offenders were mostly strangers(38%), while neighbours(24%), acquaintance to the victims (18%),relatives(16%),supervisors (2%) and religious leaders(2%) accounted for the other categories of offenders.
It is amazing what additional information these polls give.It implied that about 3 in 10 offenders
of this cruel act were not arrested even after the case had been reported to the police.
LAJA MODUPE ONYINYECHUKWU
Comparing the poll to an earlier poll in 2014 showed a 25% decline in the proportion of Nigerians who reported rape incidences to the police.
If you are curious about what punishments rapists get,the Nigerian Criminal Code recommends life imprisonment for the perpetrators of rape and 14 years for attempted rape.
This is a call for action because despite such a law in place,our women and men are “NOT” safe.The implementation of this law is the real problem with the society being so quick to point fingers and blame the victim instead of first protecting them.
This Criminal act has been taking place in different states in Nigeria and it keeps happening. Our people who are supposed to be protected by the law are violated by inhumane people and they still roam the streets. For how long, will we watch these acts keep occuring?
To avoid being stigmatized, our people have chosen the path of silence.If only,we can use our voices to let the society know that “the victims are not alone”.Will we sit back and let these sexual offenders use silence to evade justice?. Raise your voices and let us “TOGETHER” shout a cry for the victims who can no longer cry or are scared to, to make “JUSTICE” prevail in our land, Nigeria