Nigeria is engulfed in a rape crisis. Our women (and in a minority of cases, men) are under siege from sex maniacs. It is a nationwide phenomenon, and the time has come for all of us to pay it the critical attention it deserves.
The episode that sparked off protests involved Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, an undergraduate of the University of Benin who was gang-raped and murdered while reading inside a church about a fortnight ago. Within the same period the police went on a manhunt after 12 men, including a 57-year-old man who on several occasions raped a 12-year-old girl in Dutse, Jigawa State.
As it began to dawn on Nigerians that there is a rape epidemic amidst the coronavirus pandemic, a Director of the Anambra State Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Mrs. Nkechi Anazodo, announced the shocking find that under this lockdown her department documented over 80 rape cases. This could be just a tip of the iceberg of a national trend.
The worst part of it is that these violent sex crimes sometimes end in murder or threats of same. And the culprits are more likely than not family members and people who should normally earn the trust of the victims. These include religious leaders, fathers and uncles of the victims and young men involved in cultism and drug abuse.
Nollywood actress and founder of Passion Against Rape and Abuse Africa, PARAA, Foluke Daramola-Salako, recently depicted the prominent role that “religious leaders” play in this criminality: “Seventy-five per cent of the cases I have on my table (involve) religious leaders, and a lot of the time, we don’t get to the end of it, because when we start, the family would come and tell us we should leave the religious leader to God”.
The stigmata that goes with being raped discourages the victims from coming out timeously and increasing the chances of the criminal being subjected to justice. In many cases, the victims are wrongly blamed for alleged “indecent” dressing.
Debunking this notion, Daramola-Salako said: “You hardly find rape cases against young women except for sexual assaults. We find it mostly among kids, teenagers and elderly women”.
The upsurge in rape is a crisis that touches on the mental state of the average citizen.
We must keep the searchlight on it and sensitise our governments and people to exercise more vigilance at family and community levels to provide greater protection for our womenfolk.
Rape is a violent crime that dehumanises the victims and devalues their sense of self-worth. There must be no place in our society for sexual predators. We must chain and lock this monster in a dungeon. Our womenfolk and vulnerable people of all ages must be adequately protected.