The rising number of rape and sexual assaults cases in our communities in recent times is becoming worrisome.
The International Center For Investigative Reporting (ICIR) estimates that over two million Nigerians are raped every year.
Recently, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a 22-year-old Microbiology student of the University of Benin, was found unconscious in a pool of blood by a church security guard. Uwa, as she was fondly called was rushed to hospital but later died two days after.
In 2015, a 2-year-old Fatima was raped to death by her abductor. “On that fateful day, the convict took late Fatima to his room and for about 40 minutes, he raped her which led to her death.” Vanguard quoted him as saying.
Sarah, 31, was seven years old when her teacher sexually abused her severally. She said “after school, he gave her sweets and promised to give her a small amount of money”. When her mother learnt about the situation and complained to the school. The man was fired and that was all.
These are sad stories. There are hundreds if not thousands of Uwas’, Fatimas’ and Sarahs’ who could not voice out their stories.
This is because rape is considered a stigma in most Nigerian families and it’s unusual for her family to reveal that this happened to their sons and daughters, Amnesty International Nigeria Director Osai Ojigho told CNN.
He further explains “It shows how police are unwilling to even investigate rape cases and will rather probe murder allegations. Both are heinous crimes and none should be dismissed for the other,” Ojigho said.
In recent years, Women and activists in Nigeria are demanding greater action against sexual violence.
Asma’u Ibrahim the president Saadah Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Foundation (SCAPAF) said the inefficient legal process is itself a deterrent for victims who want to report abuse.
She observed that “Rape and sexual assaults cases stay longer in courts that parties are tired and see it as a waste of time. Even the police are not trained and equipped with resources to provide evidence in court, as such, survivors are pressurised to drop the case”.
In order to curb this menace in our society, we must strive to find justice for every victim. Individuals, communities and the nation must stand up and denounce this act.
We must take time to educate our kids about sexual education, teach them how to stand up and defend themselves against this beast. “Parents must allow their children to discuss matters that are sexually explicit in nature,” Asma’u said.
The government, both at the federal and state level, must improve legislations and enforce quick delivery of justice to victims of rape.
Non-governmental organisations, religious organizations, community leaders must step up their campaigns.
Finally, a special unit made up of police, social welfare officers, medical practitioners and lawyers, should be put in place to cater to the specific needs of survivors of rape.
Ibrahim Danbatta writes from Kaduna