764 views | Zeenat Sambo | April 17, 2021
While the world reeled from the effects of the Corona Virus and was faced with the tough decision to shut down, Nigeria was forced to grapple with its myriad of problems which includes its own silent pandemic, the monster called RAPE.
Rape simply means the unlawful sexual intercourse committed by a man with a woman not his wife through force and against her will. This is just a general definition of rape as there are various types subsumed in this broad category such as date rape, marital rape, statutory rape(this is also called defilement) etc. Rape is multi faceted, this simply means that its tentacles spreads across the gender, age, religion and tribal divide that exists in Nigeria.
The sexual harassment bill to check the increasing rate of sexual abuse in tertiary institutions has so far not captured the holistic angle of rape neither would serve it as a deterrent to perpetrators outside the tertiary institutions. Although, each region has penal and criminal codes regulating punishment for rapists, it would have been fair enough if the Nigeria constitution can have a single law that state precarious punishment for people culpable of rape in the country.
Even if the suggestion of castration was rejected, the laws should have been reviewed in line with the realities of the time and stiffer penalties meted out to the perpetuators of the crime. The number of years provided for as imprisonment cannot justify the physical and psychological trauma a victim suffers. Section 218 of the Nigeria criminal code states that “The punishment for anyone who has unlawful canal knowledge of a girl under the age of thirteen is guilty of felony and is liable to life in prison), ordinarily this law is fair but more gruesome punishment like death sentence should stand as an act to punish rape case in Nigeria irrespective of the gender or age grade.
Law, order and penalty of rape in Nigeria has become a topic of argument where some are contented with the provisions and others disgruntled. It is imperative that we agree with the social theories view on rape as not only an ugly crime but a symptom of an unhealthy society. With the lack of a proper record keeping database in Nigeria, the Nigerian police can’t equivocally state the number of prosecuted rape cases in the country, therefore, it’s unsurprising that the figures are overwhelming to begin with.
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Pauline Talen revealed that Nigeria recorded about 3,600 rape cases in the country during the COVID-19 lockdown not to add the findings by The Women at Risk International foundation of high incidence of 10,000 sexual assault, rape and human trafficking among young girls in Nigeria daily. That figure is worrisome and the law can’t fight it alone without collective effort.
The proliferation of pornography, gender inequality, culturally legitimate violence, child trafficking and so on are challenges society tries to relate to the cause of rape. From a practical aspect, the proliferation of pornography and salacious views are one of the impending factors that that has been trending views for over a decade. Where women are seen as sex symbols but it is not enough excuse to defile a woman or a minor.
It is necessary for the government to establish a platform to correct the measures, access to internet should be well monitored and controlled in schools. Parents should be enlightened about the necessity to guide their children on sex education. We need to face the reality that teenagers have access to the internet and prone to relay act of seduction or seeking sexual pleasures. Good morals from home helps build a healthy society, the help of family is deeply needed, and we must stop saying, “because they are boys” as a mother tried to defend her son instead of scolding him. Coming to parents, it is bizarre to entrust a child to father who defiles her.
Unrelenting support by various NGOs have been helpful in clamoring for an end to rape in Nigeria. A need for more drive towards enhancing publicity on rape centers will be helpful. Not only to counsel and fight for rape victims but to work with the grassroots in enlightening them about their rights, the remedies and repercussions when a rape occurs. The community leaders should be informed about the penalty for rape and how to disassociate from acts that can lead to such. Victims should be protected from public ridicule and unwanted gestures that can add to their struggle.
At this juncture, religious organizations help is highly needed to spread the awareness by using religious guidance to reach their congregation. It is time for the mosques and churches to take a strict stand on this issue, we need as many institutions as possible to uproot this menace in the society. Nigerians are renown to be religious people but where is the religiosity if we can’t roar as one to save our future. Educate, inform and make aware all issues to condemn rape. Not to forget our Monarch rulers that only a say can make a law within their locals.
Dedication and willingness is required to fight on. We can’t keep blaming how far we have come in modernization. We cannot single out a major reason for rape where we have minors, women, young boys and elderly women being abused. It is frightening, threatening and shouldn’t keep on. Nigerians are good people with a great nation, our greatness start with our voice it should be heard for all.