“I have lost my self esteem, I no longer feel like a woman, I feel so empty, I can’t stand the sight of any man, in fact, the damage and scar from that single incident is irreparable and indelible.
These were the lamentations of a 30-year-old lady who lost her well guarded and treasured virginity to a man she respects as a big brother in her neighborhood in a violent rape about ten years ago.
Rape according to Wikipedia, is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration, perpetrated against a person without that person's consent.
The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent.
Succinctly put, rape is forcefully having sex with someone against his/her wish or will, especially using violence due to mental deficiency, intoxication or unconsciousness. Over 90% of predatory sex is perpetrated by males against females, however males are also subjected to forced sexual acts.
To some extent, rape reflects the moral decadence, ethical bankruptcy, widespread overbearing promiscuity and hypocrisy that have characterized some Nigerians over the years.
This menace cuts across all age brackets, toddlers, children, adolescents, matured adults, mothers, grandmothers, if an 80-year-old great grandma could be raped, then who is to spare? Rape, generally speaking, is an infringement on the rights of individuals, particularly children and could amount to gross violation of child right.
In Lagos State alone, it is believed there were 181 rape cases within six months. Then imagine the figures from other states of the federation and the FCT, Abuja, did I hear you say alarming?
Recently, Edo State Police Command paraded 50 suspects for various crimes including cultism, armed robbery and so on. Out of the 50, 12 were held for rape and defilement of underage children.
Most rape victims are female children hawking on the streets in towns, cities and villages who are often lured by predators or seized outrightly and taken into a room, sometimes uncompleted buildings where they are forcefully defiled.
Defilement in recent times has taken spiritual dimension, a pastor in Olorun- sogo, Abeokuta, Ogun State, had carnal knowledge of a 20 year old church member, charm was reportedly used on her after which she went into a trance as the pastor eventually had his way.
Another pastor was alleged to raped a girl in the guise of “cleansing her spirit of dirt,” according to the victim in an Abuja court where the pastor was standing trial: “I cannot remember the number of times that he raped me. Papa (pastor) told me it was a continuous deliverance and he had to sleep with me to clean the dirt inside me and cleanse my future.”
So many factors can be identified as the immediate and remote contributors to rape, among which are poverty, lust, materialism, seduction, wickedness and lack of access to basic education are some of the contributory factors to the unwarranted defilement of underage girls.
Hawking has become a cultural trait in many communities whereby female children are given oranges, yams, cooked maize, groundnuts, tomatoes, plantains to sell mostly after school hours by desperate parents in bids to boost the family’s income.
Many children are involved in such forced labour to make economic ends meet. They could end up being lured into secret, quiet places or rooms and raped even by neighbours.
The act of indecent dressing also contributes to the issue under discussion. There are cases where a lady who wanted to dress to kill, ends up dressing herself for a rapist abattoir.
Indecent or provocative dresses are however not excuses for rapist to continue such dastardly act or a license to castigate rape victims.
We need to do away with this system that espouses the idea of women being possessions and develop a society that sees the woman as an individual with as much rights, consents and abilities as her male counterpart, a society where ethical sexual culture is promoted and supported.
Instead of blaming the woman for getting raped, we should teach our sons the importance of consent, that NO means NO and a woman can withdrew her consent at any time.
Instead of telling the victim of sexual assault not to speak up so as not to shame her family or get stigmatized, we should create a society were victims are helped to overcome the trauma of the assault.
Instead of telling the young girl she 'asked' for it because of the way she dressed, we should punish severely and publicly shame rapists. We should consciously make the effort as consumers not to tolerate music videos and home movies that objectify the female body in the name of art.
I believe now is the right time for us as a nation to have this all important conversation on rape and sexual harassment endemic in our society.
Oluleye is a student of Rufus Giwa Polytechnic Owo, Ondo State.