Why Everyone Should Be Worried About Nigeria’s Rape Problem -By Soyem Osakwe

Filed under: National Issues |

In the last one week, there were ten reported cases of rape & defilement of minors across various national papers. These reports come weeks after the outrage that followed the brutal rape and murder of 13-year-old Ochanya in Benue State.

Like many girls her age, Ochanya had dreams of completing her education. This dream was cut short by the guardians who should have protected her. At the age of eight, her cousin had begun to defile her. He drugged her repeatedly and raped her. The boy’s father discovered what his son had been up to and rather than reprimand his son, he started raping her also.

Due to the consistency of abuse she suffered, Ochanya was diagnosed with Vesico-vaginal fistula VVF, which also led to her death.

 

 

VVF is common in violent cases of rape, especially those involving multiple rapists and/or foreign objects

Ochanya’s case is tragic and is the poster case for many like hers who have been raped, yet the justice system has failed them. Unfortunately, there are many more cases like this:

Between 2013 – 2018, the Mirabel centre received 3,819 cases of rape and defilement. Over 80% of the survivors reported that they previously knew the perpetrator of the sexual assault.

This statistic implies that offenders are not particularly concerned about the consequences of their actions as they carry out the assaults in full knowledge that the survivor would be able to identify them should the matter get reported.

Here’s why we cannot afford to be silent:

  • Sexual Violence is an abuse of human rights and should never be accepted or condoned.
  • Failing to prosecute offenders creates a violent and unsafe environment for all, especially minors

Nigeria has a culture of shaming survivors. We must begin to believe survivors and treat them with dignity and respect. The survivor is not responsible for the assault. We must encourage survivors to report, we would not drown their voices with our skepticism and judgmental attitude.

Sexual violence isn’t “their” problem. It is “our” collective problem.  Rape isn’t caused by what the survivor wore or where they were. Rape is caused by Rapists.

Let’s do away with the culture that seems to find an excuse for rapists, there is no excuse for rape; it can never be justified.

Here’s what government can do:

  • State governments need to put in place a Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) response system. Every state in Nigeria needs this at the state and local government levels.
  • State governments domesticate the Child Right Act and hasten the implementation. This would be effective in minimizing the incidences of rape, child labour and trafficking in the society.

 

Sexual violence is more than a buzzword or a hashtag. It has disrupted the lives of men, women and children all over the world. We must do our best to ensure that survivors in Nigeria get justice.

SOYEM OSAKWE has gone full circle in the media and communication’s industry. From presenting sports, to working as an editor, PR executive, account director, and digital marketing consultant. She has amassed a wealth of experience in marketing communications, branding and social media marketing as both a consultant and in-house communications professional.

Soyem also volunteers at the Mirabel centre in Lagos.

 

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