The recent painful death of Christiana Ochanya Ogbanje, has once again brought to the fore the issue of incessant rape in the country and the need to take urgent positive steps to curtail it. Christiana, a 13-year old girl was said to have died from complications from years of serial sexualy abuse by her aunty’s husband, Andrew Ogbuja and his son, Victor Ogbuja.
Rape used to be a matter that was hushed in whispers or rumours because it belongs to the realm of forbidden acts and was indeed uncommon. Even our folk tales are full of stories of how the gods visited any man who violated a woman through rape with incurable diseases or, sometimes, death.
Today, the story is regrettably different. Many women in Nigeria, both young and old, are daily being subjected to sexual abuse. Rape cases are featuring as a recurring decimal in public and private places, including the ivory towers, hitherto insulated from menacing rapists.
The reported case of serial raping of a student of Abia State University is still fresh in our minds.
A particularly horrible case was reported some months ago about the alleged raping of an old woman over the age of 70 years in Opi, Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, by young men. The shameful act led to a mass protest by women in the area.
Even children are not spared of this sexual madness. The social media and national dailies are awash with stories of kids being raped by men old enough to be their fathers and grand fathers in different parts of
the country. Research shows that in four years, police in Kano State dealt with over 60 cases of child rape and over 60 related arrests.
What makes Ochanya’s case peculiar ,however, is that the act was perpetrated for five good years right under the nose of her aunty who claims not to have known what was going on in her home. One may want to know where she was all these years that her niece was constantly abused sexually. Did she travel to outerspace. Didn’t she notice something wrong with a child kept under her care? Where was Mrs Ogbuja when an orphanage owner, Margaret Soo, took custody of Ochanya after allegedly witnessing the gruesome treatment meted on her?
Reports have it that Victor (younger Mr Ogbuja), started sleeping with Ochanya when she was eight years old. His sister one day caught him in the act and reported to their father who scolded him and afterwards also started defiling her. Yet the mother of the house knew nothing? Or was it a case of covering up and protecting her husband and son, forgetting that what is hidden today will be shouted from the roof tops tomorrow? Stories like this simply show how woeful some parents have failed in carrying out their parental duties to their children, their househelps and other domestic staff. Because of the quest for material acquisition and other senseless pre-occupations, they have no time to spend with their families. Many treat their biological children as super humans while their househelps are handled as slaves. The question is, why bring these children to live with you if you know you cannot cater for their emotional, physical, psychological wellbeing and others?
So it is good that Nigerians demand justice for Ochanya. Truly, no rapist should go unpunished, particularly not the ones that had caused the untimely death of an innocent looking, hopeful, pretty young girl.
The full wrath of the law must come down on them. It is also glad to know that the Knights of St Mulumba, a highly respected order in the
Catholic Church to which Andrew Ogbuja and his wife, Felicia, belong have come out to condemn the wicked, despicable act in strong terms.
A published speech of the KSM Supreme Knight, Diamond Ovuraye, stated that Andrew has been placed on suspension from the order, pending the determination of his case in court.
But beyond all these, parents must sit up to their responsibilities.
Let us build strong affinity with our children that will make them to have confidence in us and freely talk to us whenever they want.
Recently, a radio guest narrated how she was saved from being sexually abused by her teacher at a tender age of seven. She had been taught by her mother to always say no when a female or male adult makes wrong advances at her. After saying no, she should go and tell her parents or any other adult that can take action. They had the mantra “no, go,
tell”. So the day the teacher tried to touch her wrongly, she resisted him and as soon as she got home, she told her parents who reported the matter to the school authority and appropriate actions were taken on the matter. Had Ochanya had someone to confide in, probably she would have been alive today.
In the words of Barbara Johnson, “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.” Likewise, parents should always be guided by the admonition of Robert Heinlein that “Being a mother is an attitude not a biological relation. So let us be good parents to all the children around us. In that way, Ochanya’s death wouldn’t have been in vain.
By: Calista Ezeaku.