Rape: A big gape in our social norms

by Tahir Ibrahim Talban Bauchi

The whole world is consumed by the voraciousness of the Corona pandemic and its effects on the world economy, shutting down fuel supply, cutting out air travel, snuffing the life out of the aviation industry, the hospitality industry, tourism and practically all the other sectors of the economy. Some of us are also worried about the spate of killings going on in our country, which is definitely taking up more lives than the covid 19 infection, as there has been a sudden rise in activities of bandits especially in the northern parts of our country. As if all that is not mind boggling enough, some insane and ludicrous elements amongst us are still going about invoking more wrath from the heavens by desecrating the freedom, sanity, sanctity and purity of human lives – raping people, violating them, taking away their dignity, confidence, innocence and sense of wellbeing. The age old barbaric crime of rape and defilement has refused to remain in history and its destructive flame is burning brighter, stronger and warmer. Victims are robbed of so many things and the defiler doesn’t even reckon what damage he is doing to his victims, as their lives will never be the same again. Some run into psychiatric problems, some are never able to mate again, and some just develop phobia for the opposite sex and can never relate with them the same way ever again. 

Last week, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa was recently gang raped and killed in a church in Benin City of Edo state. The Minister for Information and Culture while speaking on the dastardly act described the rape as a “cruel and barbaric act that offends human sensibility, in addition to being antithetical to human decency”. Fingerprints were found on a fire-extinguisher that matched one of the suspects, who has since been arrested. The extinguisher was found as one of the ‘weapons’ that was used in attacking the victim. Similarly, a gang of 14 men had violated a minor in Jigawa State and were already in police custody, to face the full wrath of the law, the minister stated.

In the same week, another 13 year old girl was drugged and gang raped, and later dumped near her home in Kaduna. She was earlier taken away on a motor-cycle by the perpetrators who have since been apprehended and will be appropriately charged to court. Last Friday also, a Chief Magistrates’ Court sitting in Makurdi, ordered that a 38 year old businessman be remanded in Makurdi correctional facility, for allegedly raping his 7 month old daughter. The Police Prosecuting Officer had told the court that further investigation into the matter was ongoing. Tuesday afternoon, another man identified as Maximum Akpojotor, allegedly drugged and raped a 12 year old girl in his one room apartment along Abeke road in Sapele. It was reported that the defiler was a close family friend to the girl, who used to visit him in his saloon along with her brothers. He lured the girl to his quarters on that fateful tuesday and gave her some food, which he had mixed some marijuana with, after which he raped her. A police officer attached to the Sapele division confirmed that they had the barber suspect in their custody who had committed the rape. 

This June has been a sad month of pedophilia cases as another 66 year old man named Baba Sahabi, a resident of Daban Kare area of Yobe state, was arrested for luring little children with chocolates and defiling them. Most of the cases being reported as rape cases are ones of pedophilia, where children are being violated by adults, both men and women, with no exceptions. Last wednesday, a Kaduna state High Court sitting in Dogarawa Sabon Gari in Zaria, sentenced one Usman Shehu Bashir to death by hanging for raping a two year old girl to death. The case had lasted for 5 years before the poor little girl could get justice for the crime that violated her.

There are tonnes of cases like these that happen on a daily basis. Some are caught and some escape un-noticed. Most adults are unable to speak up and report their ordeals for fear of stigma. The kids that are defiled cannot even speak for themselves at all. These crimes are majorly perpetrated by people the victims know. Some are family friends, some are uncles and aunties, while some are brothers and sisters. Sometimes housemaids and houseboys get involved with these devilish acts and the parents do not even notice as they are too busy with their schedules of earning a living with little time left for parenting. They are lured by the comfort of the friendly environments they are used to sharing with their would be attackers and so hardly suspect any foul play. Some are even too young to understand that their sanctity is being taken away from them. 

Only high profile cases get the deserved media attention but hardly any proper public outcry. The case of the Uniben student Vera Omozuwa has just only managed to reawaken the say no to rape campaign across the country. There was also the high flying case of the rape allegations by Busola Dakolo, wife of singer Timi Dakolo, against a renowned senior pastor of Zion Assembly (COZA), Pastor Fatoyinbo. She spoke up recently about the pressure mounting on her to drop the case. She had posted a letter from the Nigeria Police stating that the case file had been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecution for advise and necessary action. The Pastor had filed a counter claim asking that her accusations be dismissed as frivolous and that her suit was grossly incompetent. 

UNICEF records have it that one in four girls and one in ten boys are victims of one form of sexual violence or the other before they are 18. Our society and our laws have cohabited with these monsters all too cosily, without the necessary repercussions put in place, and exercised. How on earth does it take 5 years to sentence a pedophile who raped a 2 year old girl to jail? Shouldn’t our criminal codes and penal codes expressly pronounce death by hanging or something more gruesome for such misconduct? Why are we able to stand up against tribalism, make noise about corruption, minimum wage, against lockdowns, argue our brains out in support of APC or PDP and all that,  and yet we cannot lend our voices to say a big NO TO RAPE? These beasts amongst us must be hung as fast as they are found out, otherwise, it is another misnomer that is fast blurring the path to the cultured society we are struggling to arrive at. Some older women were out on social media, posting videos of themselves serenading their husbands to some local music and all our clerics were rushing to the altar of condemnation, even cursing and what not – yet non has come forward to make sermons upon sermons, speaking up against rape and pedophilia. May God deliver us from the wrath of these crimes of rape and pedophilia. Amen.

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