I’ve been reading closely, and almost with gasping breath, frequent and numerous reports of rapes coming out of our society nowadays.
While issue of rape is not a new phenomenon in the world, I feel it has reached a level of serious and active concern, especially given its wildfire occurrence in places like India and Nigeria (of course it happens everywhere, not just in these two countries!).
Instances of rape have reached an epidemic scale with media already awashed with reports of the crime as a day hardly passed without a news or rumour of it filtering out!
It has become so ludicrous that not only grown up females are falling prey but infants are also being defiled and ‘very old’ women are not spared either.
While we can all readily recall the New Delhi bus gang-raping of the Indian student, we can also remember reading report of a man, who for days, abducted and sexually assaulted his co-tenant’s five-year-old daughter. Of course, we know that both victims did not survive to tell their tales.
What about a father in Nigeria, who was reportedly having romps with ‘his’ own daughter for many years to the extent that the 17-year-old became pregnant by him. It was after he took the teenager for abortion that his secret escapade became public. He was apprehended by the police and charged to court.
There were also recent reports of many bizarre rape instances of a two-year-old infant girl raped by a 25-year-old male; three-year-old girl raped by a 35-year-old male; a 23-year-old student being raped by a serving male soldier; a Vigilance Service officer raping a female National Diploma student.
Rape now happen almost anywhere and among different cadres of people. For instance, we’ve heard stories of clerics and priests sodomising little boys. What about those defiling young girls on the pretense of carrying out spiritual cleansing or exorcising their evil spirits!
Most astonishing is the act of rape in medical establishments where patients are being brutally raped by those that are suppose to care for them.
Such reports only affirm that the proportion of randy felons in our midst is increasing by the day. It also shows that the number of peadophiles and sex predators is equally swelling.
Each time an unpalatable story of rape breaks, it makes me wonder about what this life is turning into? I can not but ask myself: ‘is it the end of time we have been hearing about?’ ‘How can parents guarantee safety of their children, especially their daughters?
And being a female and a mother myself, I always shudder at (and of course forbid it) the thoughts of such hideous act happening to me or any of my children! The thought alone has made me a wee bit paranoid of most men, I must confess!
This is because it is only in a rape case that the ‘victim becomes the accused who must prove her good reputation, her mental soundness and her impeccable propriety’.
This assertion alone is preventing many victims from seeking indictment of their rapists and because the onus of proof lies with the rape victim, she must provide the bed sheet used to rape her. She must provide her pant and not wash herself before going to the police station and the hospital, even when it is sure that there would be delays in getting and presenting the report of medical tests because of nature of our health facilities.
She must not urinate, drink any liquid or take any other bodily action as these could threaten her evidence.
To me, such insidious procedure of establishing a rape case only give the rape culprits a field day which is why in most instances they ended up unpunished for their crime.
Also, according to some Nigerian penal codes, those culprits who do get apprehended have the option to pay a fine of N250,000 to their victim. Of what use is this amount compared to the psychological distress the victim must have suffered.
While the existence of several laws condemning rape in Nigeria is commendable, I will really seek their revision to include stricter penalties for rapists and of course the effective implementation of the laws. May be by doing that, we (women folks) will stop glancing backwards while walking the streets and at least be able to sleep with one of our eyes closed!