Rape: A woman’s nightmare
By Esther Onyegbula
Rape according to section 357 and 358 of the Nigerian Criminal Code is, “having unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the cosent is obtained by force or by means of intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false act, or, in case of a married woman, by impersonating her husband”.
Rape is also a word for sexual assault. It is one of the worst crimes there is. Statutory rape on the other hand, is sexual intercourse with a person who is below the statutory age of consent.
Over the years, in spite of the harsh punishment which the law recommends for offenders, the issue of rape has become a recouring decimal across the world especially, in Nigeria. No day goes by without a case of rape being recorded.
Ironically, the ages of rape survivors are irrelevant to the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
Just as a 70 or 80 year old woman gets raped, so also are little babies being raped.The issue of rape is not restricted to the female gender alone, as ugly tales of young men being raped now abound.
Current data reveals that most of the rape incidents recorded, are perpetrated by close associates, acquitances, relatives, domestic staff, teachers and even religious leaders. Within the last one week, over ten cases of rape have been reported in the media across the country.
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) on Tuesday, paraded Abdulrazaq Garuba, 45, of number 75, Olore Abegunde area Ilorin, for raping a five-year-old girl in Ilorin.
While briefing newsmen, Mr Ayodele Bello, Public Relations Officer of NSCDC, said that the suspect was arrested on June 30, for allegedly raping a five-year-old girl in his neighborhood.
On July 1st, a 12 year old girl was raped and infected in Asaba, the Delta State capital. According to activist, Gwamnishu Emefiena Harrison, the victim and her guardian have reported the matter to men of the Asaba divisional police.
Unfortunately, teenagers, toddlers and full grown women are not the only ones subjected to this nightmare, babies aren’t spared of this terrible ordeal.
Last year in Kastina, a 55-year-old man was arrested by the Police in Katsina for defiling his five-months-old step daughter.
The suspect, Magaji, a resident of Danaski village in Musawa Local Government Area of the state, defiled the baby when her mother, Zinai, left her in his care to go and buy some food stuff in a nearby market.
In 2017, a 27-year-old man, Ibrahim was arrested by the police in Ogun State, for allegedly raping his 11-months-old niece left in his care.
The incident happened in the Ijebu Igbo area of the state, after the mother of the baby left her in Ibrahim’s care to go shopping for the family. Ibrahim who seized the opportunity of being left alone with the infant, first used his fingers to defile her, before trying to penetrate her with his manhood.
It was the baby’s cry that attracted neighbours, who caught Ibrahim on top of the baby.
While most suspects secretly commit rape, that committed by a Kano State-based businessman added a twist to the rape tales.
In 2017, he was arrested for allegedly conspiring with his wife (a friend of the victim’s mother), to rape six months old baby Khadijah Bashir.
According to the couple who has been childless since they got married, their quest for a baby, led them to a native doctor who advised the husband to sleep with a six-month-old girl in other for them to have a child.
The suspect’s wife reportedly held the baby’s legs while he raped the victim.
The assumption that most teenagers, young ladies are raped because of their dress code or pronounced body features, doesn’t hold water, as babies as young as 6months, or as old as 80-years old also get raped.
In October 2017, an 89 year old woman fell into coma after a 29-year-old man, Kehinde Ariyo, raped her.
Ariyo who was arrested by men of Osun Police Command, in his confessional statement, said: “I was coming from a night party, and I needed a place to sleep till the following morning. I pleaded with the woman to allow me stay in her house till the morning and she obliged me. Mama asked me to sleep on a couch in the passage. I was already drunk.
“In the night, I went to the room where the woman slept, and told her that I needed to tell her something. I told her to open her door and she did. I cannot remember other things. I just know that it was not more than two rounds, and I know it was the work of Satan”.
While most people believe that rape is on the increase, others believe that the situation is only being magnified by advent of social media.
Former spokesperson zone 2 police command, CSP Dolapo Badmus explained that rape is against the law of the land.
She added that anyone caught in this unholy act, will be charged for rape, defilement and sexual harassment.
In spite of the provisions of the law, not many cases are reported as many victims are not sure of how the Police will respond to them.
Beside the stigma and the shame of interrogation, many raped victims come from low income families which makes it very difficult for them to follow through with the process of seeking justice. Many of them opt to settle out of court midway, due to the huge financial burden seeking justice puts them through.
Also, getting justice for rape victims does not come easy as the process is riddled with so many challenges and stumbling blocks.
Those who are determined to seek redress in the court often times get frustrated because of the length and duration of court proceedings which could be within three to four years.
In February, 2018, a Lagos High Court, Igbosere, sentenced a 47-year-old businessman, Maduabuchi Onwuta to 25 years imprisonment for defiling a 16-month-old baby.
The suspect was sentenced three years after he committed the offence on November 26, 2013, at Isheri, Lagos.
The offence contravenes Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011, which recommends a life sentence for a person found guilty of defilement of a child. For three years, the family of the16-month-old survivor went through the stress of securing justice for their daughter. But CSP Dolapo Badmus believes there is greater awareness about rape now and as a result, more victims know how to go about their cases.
She added that , “there are NGOs everywhere providing people with the opportunity to report these cases, adding that the victims can easily access the police.
She disclosed that the police has arrested a number of suspected rapists, and charged them to court while some of them are under prosecution.
Last week, the shocking revelation of Busola Dakolo went viral online, after she alleged that Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of COZA, raped her while she was 16 years old.
These revelations which led to a huge public outcry for and against Busola, established the position of citizens especially celebrities and clerics on the issue of rape.
While some people believe Busola Dakolo, others are of the opinion that she isn’t telling truth.
Reacting to the Busola rape saga, Poju Oyemade, Senior Pastor of Covenant Christian Center, Lagos, said, “I could only watch the tape by Busola Dakolo for a few minutes, it was difficult to sit through it.
From what I heard, it is impossible not to be heart broken and sympathise with her. She must have gone through a lot; and then to sit to tape her experience, must have been very painful. She is today a wife and mother of three to have to relive a 20 year old experience”.
The point must be made however, that our culture of silence, and shaming victims, is no doubt a major reason why rapists continue to unleash terror in the land.
Despite recent research showing that 1 out of every 3 females in Nigeria has either been raped, or faced some form of sexual abuse, unfortunately, only 18 convictions have been gotten from the legal system for offenders since 1960.
In a bid to combat the menace of rape across the country, the then Inspector General of police, Solomon Arase created public friendly gender unit to fight sexual, gender-based violence and to prosecute anyone culpable of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
While some Police Commands are yet to wake up from their slumber, the Lagos State Police Command has taken the lead, with the establishment of 12 gender units, set up in different divisions within the state.
This is to help bring justice closer to the door steps of Nigerians faced with such violence.
The units are headed by trained police officers, who handle matters with utmost confidentiality and professionalism.
The 12 units are located at Adeniji Adele, Lagos Island, Isolo, Ilupeju, Festac, Alakuko, Badagry, Ajah, Ikorodu (Igbogbo), Ketu, Ikotun, Gender Desk, Police Command, GRA, and Ikeja Divisional Police Station (Area F).
These units provide sensitive services to victims of domestic and sexual violence; while promoting healthy relationships to enhance coordinated community response to domestic and sexual violence in Lagos State and indeed in Nigeria.
Speaking on what is expected of a rape victim to enable police have evidence while investigating a rape case, spokesperson Lagos State Police Command, DSP Bala Elkana said, victims must give accurate report that will enable the police investigate. “Say it the way it is. Don’t add or remove so that the police will get the accurate account of what happened. The medical report from the hospital Is also curcial”.
However, lack of cooperation from the survivor, not giving adequate information and pressure from the survivor’s family to withdraw the case from the police, is a major challenge in the investigation of a rape case.
“Meanwhile, we are tackling these challenges through educating people to come out and speak, Town Hall meetings and enlightenment, to let them know the punishment that is involved. We need to create awareness that survivors will get justice.
“The public should also cooperate with the police by reporting all sexual offence cases. The Command Gender unit’s primary duty, is to investigate and prosecute all sexual offence cases. We ensure the matter is adequately handled by professionals. We partner with other stakeholders for psychological support, legal support and shelter for the survivors.
“After the case has been charged to court we follow up the case and ensure the perpertrator is convicted.”
The days of keeping quiet when raped are obviously over. Survivors must take advantage of the provisions at the NPF to ensure that cases are reported.
The NPF has gender Units in every state and Force Headquarters. They are under the Criminal Investigation Department. At Divisional level, they are known as Family Support Unit (FSU), or Juvenile Welfare Center (JWC).
What to do when raped
Dr. (Mrs). Uche Okwe ( Asaba-based Public Health Physician )
Are you a victim of rape? Or are you privileged to come across a victim? Here are some tips to guide you on the steps to take.
*Proceed to a nearby standard government-owned hospital or HIV clinic (often called APIN or PEPFAR centres), and request for Post Exposure Prophylaxis.
*Have a clinical assessment from a doctor who can thoroughly examine you, and give a medical report on the incidence and what was found during examination.
*Have a post exposure prophylaxis. This is given not later than 48hrs after sexual assault or rape. The post exposure prophylaxis involves the use of anti-retroviral treatment (anti-HIV treatment), as the rapist may have have sexually assaulted others, and treatment of other sexually transmitted infections.
*Postcoital contraceptive pills are equally recommended.
This is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and it is usually given immediately the patient comes in not later than 48hrs after sexual assault.
*The Medical team Is quick to collect traces of foreign body, hairs and sperm fluid before cleaning the patient up, in case there is a need for DNA analysis and police report on evidence of Rape.
*Report to the police.
NOTE: The individual is likely to have psychological challenges through life; depression, flashbacks, guilt, self pity, suicidal tendencies etc. In such cases some steps can help…
1. Open up to someone or reach out to somebody. Do not isolated yourself and do not bottle it up. Tell your story to someone you can trust. It can be a doctor, aunt, friend or even a spouse who you can trust.
2. Cope with the feelings of guilt by acknowledging it happened, and stay strong. Support groups and psychologists help by making you feel better.
3.Prepare for flashbacks as they always happen. Try to make friends, keep busy and try to make yourself happy.
*Reconnect with your body. Be happy.