By Rukee Ojigbo
Despite rape cases being evidently heavily under-reported, the stats are yet frightening. During the nationwide lock-in Anambra state alone, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Children, and Social Welfare had a record of over 80 reported cases. Some of which involved father’s raping daughters and old men violating babies.
Not too long ago the news of the death of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a 22-year-old had spread like wildfire. She had been raped and brutally murdered in a church. Having graduated from the University of Benin myself and have fallen madly in love with the rich culture of Benin, you must understand that this hits differently. A comrade had fallen.
About a week later Barakat Bello, a 19-year-old student of the Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training, Ibadan was raped and stabbed to death in her family house.
The question is how did we get here?
- The culture of stigmatization where a victim has far more to lose than the perpetrator.
- The culture that puts the onus of protecting themselves on women and potential rape victims rather than demanding men do better and in putting in place stiffer sanctions.
- The culture that fails to have relevant conversations about sex and sexual education.
- The culture that attempts to explain wrong. As if explaining it justifies it.
- The culture that’s strangely silent in the face of social injustice. We turn a blind eye as if hoping that if we ignore evil long enough it would go away.
- The culture that holds women to a higher standard. So we invest our all in training the perfect girl child, while our little kings run around without a constitution. Not knowing when they cross the line, because they were never taught to respect boundaries.
- The culture that thinks begging solves all problems.
- The culture that accepts the status quo, it’s been like that so what? Who says we have to continue?
- The culture that shuts down potential victims and tries to discredit their claims. We’ve become lawyers and super investigators. We can now tell from tweets who was wrong or right or exactly what transpired. A victim not only now has to deal with the trauma, she now has to submit herself to the scrutiny of public opinion, where a woman is judged by a different standard.
A Rape Apologist.
A rape apologist is anyone who tries in any way to excuse rape. If your first line of thought or conversation is something like “what was she wearing” or “what was she doing with him” or you attempt to judge the victim based on whatever moral code you hold in your head, then you are a rape apologist. If rather than focus on the crime that has been committed, you drift off to questioning the victim’s personality. Then you fall into this category. It’s like telling you I was robbed and you are asking me why I have money or why I have a car?
The Small Wins:
It was a pleasant surprise to hear about the sentencing of Yunusa Dahiru, the man who had kidnapped and impregnated 13-year-old Ese Oruru. A case many Nigerians had almost forgotten. Even if we would have preferred a stiffer sentence, it’s hope nonetheless, that by making the right demands and putting in the work, we can get justice. Kudos to all those who made it possible.
The outcry that followed the death of Uwa got the attention of many relevant persons, including the President and National leader of the All Progressive Congress who had both joined in the call for justice.
We can reverse the tide against rape. But we must all get involved and make voices louder. It’s important to note that our biggest battle isn’t just against rapists, but rape apologists, cause they probably the biggest enablers of the rape culture.
Photocred:Liora K Photography