Evidence that the Nigerian society is fighting a tough battle against a rising tide of sexual abuse and domestic violence continues to mount across the country. Definitively, this is the case in Lagos, which has just released its 2018 report of sexual deviancy in the state. Sexual depravity – and violence on the homestead – has more than doubled, the report, authored by the state’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, states. This is alarming, but the same perilous scenario is being rapaciously simulated in several other states.
Distressingly, the team, an arm of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, noted that these atrocities escalated by 134 per cent in 2018. In all, the DSVRT handled 1,044 cases in 2017. Instead of crashing, the cases shot up to 2,356 in 2018, increasing by 1,312. Out of this, domestic violence totalled 1,750, a sharp contrast to child abuse cases (279), defilement (78), rape (44) and 154 similar other cases. On the average, the agency received 166 new cases monthly in 2018.
In one of these cases that year, the police arrested a father for allegedly raping and infecting his own two-year-old daughter with a sexually transmitted disease in the Ajah area of Lagos. This sickens to the pit of the stomach. These days, randy fathers defile their daughters wilfully. It is a vivid reminder that the social cohesion and rectitude that welded the society together have broken down irretrievably.
These predators have been out in full force in Edo, Ogun, Ondo and Benue states as well. In Edo, the state’s Commissioner for Women Affairs, Magdalene Ohenhen, in an open forum, decried the reckless manner some fathers in the state were having sex with their daughters. This abomination is highlighted in the case of Gift Alonge, 17, who was allegedly raped and impregnated by her father. The father owned up to the incestuous act, but things soon turned around dramatically. The same father recanted after the daughter, her uncle and two members of an NGO prosecuting the case died in a road crash on their way from Igarra to the court sitting in Benin.
Early this year, the police in Ogun State identified a similar case in which Idowu Owolabi, a man married to three women, was discovered to have been reportedly raping/defiling his 21-year-old daughter in their farm since March 2018. In Edo, incest combined with paedophilia tore apart the social fabric of the Friday Moses family. The man had been allegedly raping his 13-year-old daughter since the minor was seven. In the process, he procured a crude abortion for her and went on to impregnate her a second time. These suspects need to be taught a lesson through swift prosecution.
Sexual abuse and domestic violence are everywhere – at home, in school, on the street, in the workplace and in the community. It affected one out of every four girls in Nigeria, a 2018 report stated. In a highly disturbing case early this month, police operatives in Ogun State arrested Joy Egeonu, 47, on accusations of beating her husband’s 11-year-old nephew to death. Joy was enraged that her N6,500 was missing and descended on the boy with venom, leading to complications and, eventually, death. Sadly, it was discovered after the heinous act that it was Joy’s husband, Chibuike Egeonu, who took the money. Joy allegedly buried the boy’s corpse in a shallow grave. Thankfully, she is being tried along with her husband.
In a case that sent the chills down the spines, a father and his son are being tried for their bestiality against Elizabeth Ochanya, who died last year from serial rape and abuse. Ochanya, 13, was repeatedly assaulted and inflicted with vesico-vaginal fistula, the complications of which escalated to her premature and painful death. Rightly, the debauchery triggered protests in several states like Benue, Delta, Plateau, Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Unfortunately, the disgusting stench from this epidemic is being prolonged by the absence of the quick dispensation of justice. Victims accuse the police of treating reports of rape and sexual molestation flippantly. Police stations should establish desks solely for reporting these cases. Until 2015, when the Senate passed a law that prescribed life imprisonment for rapists, offenders had little hope of getting justice. To deter the scourge, the 36 states should implement this law. Indeed, the laws on rape and domestic violence should be tightened, ensuring that offenders have no loophole to exploit.
For children who suffer abuse, they often do not readily have whom to turn to for help, especially when an older relative is the tormentor, experts note. This is why parents ought always to be vigilant to spot the telltale signs of abuse and teach their children not to hold anything back from them.
To mitigate the impact of this epidemic, several NGOs undertake support services for victims in the United Kingdom. A notable one is The Survivors Trust, which has 130 charities under its umbrella. They render help to victims throughout the UK and Ireland. Our state governments and NGOs should provide help for victims of abuse for as long as possible. A compensation scheme should be established for them. This will help them to move on from the impact of the crime, exorcise the trauma and live normally again. We encourage victims of rape not to keep suffering in silence but report to the authorities and NGOs.