I was reading a research by a Child Advocate recently about child and rape, which says alarming 73% of child victims don’t tell anyone they are being sexually abused for at least a year. Another 45% of victims keep it to themselves for at least five years, while still others NEVER disclose their abuse.
Rape is often defined as act of sexual intercourse with an individual without his or her consent, through force or the threat of force. The legal definition of rape has changed substantially since the late 20th century.
To a historian and Editor of War’s Dirty Secret: Rape, Prostitution, and Other Crimes Against Women, Prof. Anne L. Barstow, a rapist or a victim may be an adult of either gender or a child. Although rape can occur in same-sex intercourse, it is most often committed by a male against a female. There is also an increasing tendency to treat as rape an act of sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife against her will and to consider forced prostitution and sexual slavery as forms of rape.
In Nigeria, hardly could a day go by without incidences of rape; so it is in other part of the world. It is either a law enforcement officer is taking advantage of a female suspect, or as an instrument war, or an uncle, guardian, a father and some other close relatives are violating their nieces, neighbour or daughters.
Lagos State was credited with a figure of 132 rape cases in 2013. It may not be up to 3% of rape incidences considering the utmost secrecy with which cases of rape and sexual abuse are treated.
The case of a rapist Tunji is a case study. His parents are the on verge of securing his release from police custody without facing trial. He was a gateman at nursery and primary school in Lagos. He had carnal knowledge of a seven-year old girl in March, 2014. The victim reported the abuse to her parents and Tunji was arrested. The case may be another one that has died eternal death as his parents were making effort to pay for his bail.
In Edo State, it was reported that 80 cases of rape were brought for treatment between March and mid-October 2013, authorities of the Central Hospital, Benin City, said.
In five northern states, there were 95 child rape cases, a non-profit organisation, Child Protection Network, says. The rapists were said to have been mostly policemen and teachers.
The oil-rich state of Rivers, the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development put the cases of rape at 1,200 as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria. It’s just the report of May, 2013. Michael Gbarale, the Project Officer of the organisation, said most of the cases involved gang-raping. He said 800 victims were treated in hospitals.
Notable individual accounts that were recorded in the past year included that of two teenage boys in Osun State who raped a teenage bread-seller girl to death. The rapists lured the girl into a nearby bush under the pretence of buying bread, tied her hands. But the girl wouldn’t stop shouting for possible help. One of the rapists used one of the breads to block her mouth, but before the rapists were satisfied with their dastardly act, the girl was dead. They were arrested and confessed how they carried out their nefarious act in court in 2007. The judge sentenced them to death March, 2014.
Also, a police corporal and rapist, Anthony Onoja, was ordered by a court, alongside the Inspector-General of Police, to pay N10 million “exemplary damages” to a two-year-old rape victim in Nasarawa State.
Sadly, most of the rapists are often known and trusted by us and our children and oftentimes, they are members of our family. They can even be the neighbour that the children stay with while we step out. They may even be close family friends, house helps, male or female.
The law enforcement agents will be of great help in reducing the incidence of rape if they can be less antagonistic towards victims. A case of sexual abuse and attempted rape will be fresh in the memory of a victim, a student of Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho, Oyo State. What the policeman on duty when she reported her ordeal in the hands of a rapist was, “we can’t establish any case if you have not been raped.”
Law enforcement agencies should be very hard on rapists to serve as a deterrent. Not only should the search for justice be taken seriously, victims should also be provided adequate medical and counseling services by professionals. The effort of Child Advocate is commendable so far, but they need to do more through collaboration with lawyers for pro bono in search for justice for victims.
It is also important for adult lady to avoid placing themselves in a vulnerable position. These include walking alone at night and taking a ride in strangers’ cars. Even at home among family members, there should be precautionary steps to avoid rape.
Mothers should be able to win the trust of their children. Also, they should be used to their children’s behavioural pattern; know what is his or her “normal” behaviour can go a long way as this will help you to immediately recognise when anything is happening or something has gone wrong.