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Published On: Thu, Apr 17th, 2014

Educating Nigerians on effects of rape through testimonies of survivors

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Minister-of-Women-Affairs-and-Social-Development-Hajia-Zainab-MainaBy Evelyn Okakwu

Telecom masts dangerous to human health —- NESREA CoordinatorTelecom masts dangerous to human health —- NESREA CoordinatorTelecom masts dangerous to human health —- NESREA Coordinator Although reports have in recent times shown that rape is not a crime perpetrated only against women; evidence of past events have also indicated that females are twice as prone to the menace as the male folks.

More so, the latest trend in our turbulent democracy where military and paramilitary personnel who are supposed to protect the life and dignity of Nigerians join in this dastardly act of destroying innocent young children, mostly girls, makes it necessary to draw the attention of government, again, to this unholy menace and find other ways of eliminating it.

A couple of days back, the case of a four year old young girl raped by a police officer in Jos, was awash in the Nigerian and international media. The police officer Mr. Damudu Bzigu was a member of the Joint Task Force in Jos, who was expected to protect the little girl and her likes from terrorists and other terrible people cajoled the girl and ripped her of her tender dignity.

Although the man was asked to pay a huge sum as compensation for the crime, the damage done will evidently remain for a long time in the baby’s life.

The provisions of the law in Nigeria may have provided for certain duration of time in prison as jail term for the crime of rape, but is that really enough, is it worth justifying that a fully grown adult takes it upon himself to cause such life pain on a minor and is made only to face a short term in prison? Most survivors of rape certainly bare more pain than any penalty can inflict upon the perpetrators of the act, but what is the role of the judiciary as well as our so called first ladies in Nigeria? How have they been able to reduce or eliminate it?

Testimonies of rape survivors

Here, are testimonies of some rape survivors at a rally organized to educate Nigerians about the many effects of rape in our society, with the theme, ‘Stand to end rape’.

“Habiba, was raped14 years ago, at the age of 13 In Lagos. The incident was so bad that after being sexually abused by seven men. Habiba found herself at a hospital.

She tells her story: “I was raped when I was 13 years old on my way back from a tutorial class. Suddenly a car parked besides me and some men inside the car jumped out of the car and pulled me inside it. They started beating me and to cut story short; they raped me. After the incident I became unconscious for two weeks, during the period I was hospitalized”.

For someone who had being through such pain, one would naturally expect that moral justice should give her parents courage to fight for her, but this is what she had to say about her parent’s reaction.

“My mother asked me not to tell anyone about it due to stigma and my young age, that it could affect me in future; while my father was rather outraged about everything.

It was horrible. The feeling is not something I can easily explain and I was unable to speak out. I attempted suicide several times. I was only able to speak out a year ago when a lady called Bunmi Shobowale was sharing her rape story on twitter. I read through it and discovered that her story was worse than mine, so I thought; if she could share her story I could too.

I got her number and asked her how she got the courage to do so; she told me that she got the strength from God adding that she discovered after bottling the pain up for so long that it was necessary for her to speak out. She felt that her voice may help save the lives of many women out there.

“Ayodeji, Simisola, Bunmi, Inya Ode, Coach Sam Obafemi, Bukky Shonibare, Praise Fowowe and Grace Festus Alao; all encouraged me to speak out that it might Help someone. I hesitated at first, but later agreed to do it.

We had a tweet section with Ayodeji Osowobi, of “Ster initiative”. I shared my story. I realized that I was exultant at being alive.

“Being raped was terribly beyond words but being Alive is more important. A lot of young Nigerians especially females have had this experience in the past. We as Nigerians must learn to be more hospitable to them.

When a woman is abused it is not in any way her fault, she did not wake up and planned that she wants to be abused. Rape is not specific to any group of women or are rapists a particular group of men.

A rapist could be a brutal mad man, the boy next door, the too friendly Uncle or Aunty that comes by the house, so let’s acknowledge rape universally and join hands together in ending this menace called rape.

I am a rape survivor, I didn’t ask to be raped, it was the worst torture I have ever had. If you are a Rape Survivor please let’s go off the pains, it was never your fault”.

Very eloquent, you would say; another victim of the mayhem, Togbe Aigba also said she was raped at the age of six by her uncle.

“I was left with my uncle and his family while my parents went to work, and one day I was sleeping, but suddenly I woke up to realize that someone was coming into me, and there was this tickling feeling. That was how I was rubbed of my woman dignity. I could not tell my parents, though I knew for certain that had happened to me.

Though it’s not something one can completely get over, I have learnt quite a lot of lessons from it. I have a son today and I have thought him that no one has the right to touch his private part. Even I am only permitted to touch that part of him when bathing him. I told him that if any one comes close to him in that region he should quickly inform me about it”.

For Blossom Nnodim, she said she was raped at her teen age, by her supposed boyfriend. “It happened when I was still in my teens. I thought I was in love. But one day when we were at his apartment, my boyfriend just tried to practice what he had seen probably on the television with me.

I tried to say no; but obviously my No! was either not loud enough; or his passion was stronger than the strength of my voice. Though I am married today, and my husband knows I was once abused, that has not affected my dream of a happy life because I know I was not in any way responsible for what happened. Some may argue that my parents should have been more alive to their responsibilities and should have stopped me from engaging in any relationship at that tender age”.

However, Dr Ogochi Nnadi talks about the psychological effects of rape, especially on children. “The effects of rape on children could be physical or psychological. The physical effects include injury, like the breaking of the Hymen, infections, and even pregnancies. While the psychological effects include: depression, post traumatic stress disorder, then we also have the effect of low self esteem. This is more prominent among girls, or the female folk.

You know that in this part of the world, the notion that women are of a lower status is highly prevalent. Now when you combine that with the knowledge of the fact that the lady in question has been abused, there is the tendency for her to look down on herself.

Also in most cases people who have been raped have the propensity to attempt murder, or to become drug addicts, or chain smokers. They also have the propensity of victimizing others, either by rape, or by worse acts, like killing people; becoming serial killers or even probably victimizing others.

Mrs. Timidi Digha-Omolere who organised the group of women on a rally to end rape, had this to say about her own experience.

“My child was not raped but she narrowly escaped it. I thought my baby right from the age of one to guide against rape. I told her that no one must touch her on her private parts, and if any one tried it, she should tell mummy. As she was growing we were advancing in what I was telling her. On the faithful day the act was to have happened, the young man was trying to pull her trousers and there was a very big struggle. At the end of the struggle, there were marks all over her body.

She tried telling me during the day, but because of the crowd in our house, she could not tell me the details. Then later at night she told me the whole thing. I went to the police and they said they did not think anything like that happened, asking me what she knew at that age. So I went to his house because I was angry and afraid; knowing what people like that could do, I took a knife and trekked to his house. And I am glad that people intervened because with the kind of anger I had bottled up, I did not know what I was capable of doing. The most annoying thing is that he was a family friend.

After that time I issued a warning that I did not want to see him close to my house and today, even when his parents came visiting he does not come with them to my house. He was 13 when the incident happened”

Timidi’s group therefore called for rehabilitation centers for rape victims. “Rehabilitation centers will help to fight against rape. It is in places like that we can collectively look into the psychological effect of rape on victims. At rehabilitation centers, persons who have been abused will be assisted so that they can regain their self worth and very necessarily, stop being a threat to others. For instance, like not becoming drugs addicts, depressed, prostitutes etc.

Another issue that should be looked into to help fight the negative effects of rape is the creation of rape crisis centers. When you go to the police station as a person that has been raped, more often than not the victim is not taken seriously. The situation is so bad that some rape victims are even blamed by their parents, for being raped. With a rape crises center, greater concentration will be given to the victims such that they will be taken seriously, and the rape cases treated accordingly, she said, calling for a review of the Constitution on the issue of rape.

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