Earlier in the month, a coalition of non-governmental organisations took to the street. This time, it was the Nigeria Association Of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), the Medical Women Association Of Nigeria (MWAN), and the International Federation Of Women Lawyers (FIDA).
These bodies of female professionals were not only unequivocal in their condemnation of acts of gross indecency as witnessed in the society today, they demanded for justice against perpetrators of child defilement.
It may sound quite incredible and probably exaggerated, but it is true. Every year, not less than 60 million girls are sexually assaulted globally, not only by unknown persons outside their domains, but also by their own male relatives.
From incest to outright defilement of unknown female minors, the society appears to have gone berserk, as this act of bestiality now trends even in the social media.
The issue of child sexual abuse occasioned by incessant rapes has indeed assumed a more disturbing dimension in Nigeria. Hardly will a day pass without news reports filled with gory details of one rape case or the other.
The bizarre incident where young boys from Ireti Grammar School at Obalende, Ikoyi axis of Lagos, physically attacked and attempted to rape their female counterparts from Falomo Senior High School in broad day light has not been erased in our memory.
Another recent sad incident involved a 14-year-old girl, Obiamaka Ngozichukwu Orakwe, who was raped to death in her parents’ apartment in Lagos State, by miscreants. Right in her father’s house, they gagged her, took turns to gang-rape her and thereafter abandoned her in a pool of her blood and she bled to death.
Sadly too, the news is now focused on little Eedeebari Littia Gonis, a nine-year old pupil, who was said to have been allegedly raped to death in a church in Bori, the headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, by one man identified as Eedee Tombari. It was gathered that the suspect dumped the remains of the girl behind the fence of the church after he had discovered that she was dead. Regrettably, not even the sacred status of the church could scare perpetrators any longer..
Honestly speaking, the head aches, the mouth tastes bitter, the eyes release tears, while the skin actually dehydrates each time one ponders over the despicable defilement of children between ages two and 14 by men old enough to be their fathers..
This means that children are no longer safe any where.They are kidnapped and raped at school, church, worst still, no safety could be secured right in their parents’ hut. This is a big blow to the society and our moral values.
Rape, in which ever form, is a felony in Nigeria, it attracts a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and a minimum of 14 years imprisonment for attempted rape as stipulated by Sections 357,358,359 and 360 of the Criminal Code.
Unfortunately, rape and all forms of sexual abuse have continued to thrive in Nigeria simply because of the unserious approach those in authority adopt in confronting them.
Sometimes, rather than confronting the action and actors squarely, we choose to blame victims for dressing indecently, thereby normalising and trivialising sexual assaults only to create a cycle of impunity for sexual crimes in Nigeria.
No doubt, indecent dressing has popularly been tagged a bait for young men who lack control over their sexual urge. For this reason, religious bodies and organisations which uphold integrity condemn it in its entirety. However, could that be considered a justification for young men to exhibit such bestiality, up to the point of raping their victims to death?
If indecent dressing is the catalyst for rape in Nigeria, then one may be tempted to ask if the countless number of babies, infants and children that have been violated were also provocatively dressed.
How many women have been raped outside the shores of Nigeria where women are usually almost naked in the beaches? These are countries where premium is placed on women’s protection. It is quite unfortunate that while attention is shifted to emerging events and ideas in other climes, we are here still talking about rape and its menace.
Moral bankruptcy has indeed hit its peak and I think the earlier the public at large realizes this with a view to addressing it, the better for all of us.
It is how we perceive or interprete rape that determines how we confront it and how we would be able to tackle its menace. Yesterday, it was Jumoke, today Fatima; tomorrow, it may be the turn of Chiamaka to be raped and who knows how well the society would be able to handle it at such level.
Eedeebari’s case is right now a test for Rivers and Federal Governments. If nothing is done to bring the perpetrators to book, I’m afraid, the government may lose the will to combat the rape menace in Nigeria.
By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi.