Thursday, January 13, 2022

Rape and Sexual Assault are serious crimes against the dignity and sexual rights of a girl-child or woman. A Lagos based married woman with kids narrates her ordeal in the hands of her uncle when she was a child. Mummy Shadrach as she prefers to be called said her Uncle consistently raped her when she was 7-years-old.

“My father was a Customs officer. He has 5 wives and 14 children. My mummy gave birth to 2 daughters, myself and my little sister for him. She left him because she said she can’t cope with polygamous lifestyle. Therefore, she took me and my little sister to our grandparents in Ekiti State. I was 5-years-old when we were taken to Ekiti, we continued our primary education there, as my mummy relocated to Abuja.
“One day, when I got home from school, It was only Uncle Tunde that was at home. He called me into his room, removed my clothes and started playing with my private part. I did not really understand what was going on till when he penetrated and I felt a serious pain, I cried, he begged me and told me that the pain will soon subside. When he finished, he threatened to kill me if I that I tell anyone. He cleaned the blood stain and gave me money to go and buy something to eat. I was abused several times by him, till when Grandma caught him in the act one day.
“Grandma was very angry with him and also gave me a very painful slap on my chick, she asked that why didn’t I told her. I said Uncle Tunde said I should not tell anyone, I explained everything to Grandma who was more angry and disappointed in Uncle Tunde. She took me to the hospital probably for test, I am not sure and when school resume, I was enrolled into a boarding school in Badagry, Lagos State.
“In my boarding school, the reflections of what Uncle Tunde did to me gradually become clear to me. I realized I have lost my virginity which most of my mate still keep dare to themselves, I was told it is the best gift a woman can ever give to her husband, so we should endeavor to keep it dare to ourselves. I understand the meaning of rape and child abuse. Suddenly, a great feeling of hatred came upon me. I felt like travelling to Ekiti and stab Uncle Tunde. Since, I can’t do that, my aggression was transferred to the boys in my class. I begin to withdraw from some activities and don’t want to have anything to do with men. I did this throughout my academic years till I finished my National Youths Service year because I believed they were all after having sex with me and the moment I give in to them, they would knew am not a virgin and would make a mockery of me. I did this for 6 years after my graduation and my parents begins to get worried about me not getting married. When the pressure was too much, I gave a man an opportunity and eventually got married to him.”

The aftermath of rape is often the result of late marriage, loss of trust in men and promiscuity for some women. As said by a Psychiatrist, Dr. Roseline Adebayo, who believed that the effect of rape and sexual assault on the girl-child varies from rejection, shame, inferiority, hatred and unwanted pregnancy. At the same time it does lead to randy behaviour if not adequately curtailed. Some girl-child would see it as norm to open up for any man who is interested for the sake of fun or cash. That is why it is necessary to make frantic effort to re-orientate the victims and make sure the culprit is punished. Like in the case of Mummy Shadrach, so many rape incidents have gone unreported because the perpetrators are relatives, friends and in some cases influential persons.

The Nigeria Police Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba in a chat with TVC, identified unwillingness to prosecute by the victim’s relatives as reasons most rape perpetrators always escape prosecution.

“Sometimes people don’t understand that policemen are very emotional people, there is nothing that hurt a police officer, a police detective, a prosecutor or an investigator like when you have your case wrapped up, you have worked so hard to put up evidence together, you are very very sure that you have a water tight case and then as at the time you are about to initiate prosecution or half way to prosecution, families of the victim are now pulling out and even in cases when we refuse to accede to their request to terminate the prosecution, they will come to the court and become cold side witnesses, and clearly they will frustrate you.
“A life example was when I started my career, the second year into my career I was working at Trinity Police station in Apapa. We had this case of defilement of a young girl that was just about 10years, that girl was hawking oranges when one big guy took her to an uncompleted building and got her defiled. We went into investigation and I was assigned that case as a young investigative Police Officer. We worked so hard with other sections, established a clear case and when we were about to initiate prosecution. The families reached an agreement with the suspect, collected some sums of money and told us that they are withdrawing and this kind of things happened every time,” says Mba.

Everyone has the right and free will to make informed decisions about their sexual conduct and also to respect these same rights and dignity of others. Parents and the society at large need to see it as a collective responsibility to protect the rights, safety and well-being of all children at risk of rape and sexual assault. Constitutionally, consent is a predominant factor when it comes to offences of rape and sexual assault. The consent of a person under age 16 can never be tenable in a legal jurisdiction, hence the need to put an end to sexual assault and rape of the girl-child. Therefore, the full weight of the law should be used against anyone culpable of rape and sexual assault and everyone should desist from ‘padipadi’ sentiment. If an uncle can inflict a life time emotional and psychological pain in the life a little niece, the parents of such niece should be pursue justice and make sure such Uncle can only inflict pain on iron bars.

By Ife Adewole

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