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Published On: Fri, Jun 6th, 2014

Our attitude to increasing rape cases

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By Allahnana Attah

Nigerians are gradually getting used to news of rape cases being reported in different media outfits across the country making it look as if there is not much to worry about. Some just brush such stories aside simply because they are not directly involved, or that this is not the first of such incidences to be recorded and so why bothering oneself.

I was miffed when a 44 year old woman in Maiduguri, Borno State abducted by young men under the garb of Boko Haram revealed to the media that she was captured and taken to a far off place by this group and subjected to psychological torture. Her revelations were such that I concluded the boys must have gone crazy, possessed with drugs or were under some other narcotic influences. She lamented how a young boy of about 18 years, in fact the age of her biological child, repeatedly raped her at gun point. I wondered what religious benefits he stood to gain from such dastardly act, if at all religious piety is what the group seeks.

As if that was not disturbing enough, I found it hard to belief the story of a 95 year old grandmother, Mrs. Caroline Ununka -Anyanwu being raped by youths, for the third time! To make the case worst, this grandmother who hailed from Umugaa village in Umunama autonomous community, Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State is a widow. Did I hear you scream “shame to this generation of men, particularly the youth?

I share you rage at the sad development, where young men capable of keeping and protecting women as wives will abdicate from the responsibility of doing so only to subject their community members, and most often parents, to this horrendous treatments. The community where this grandmother was raped described the incident as “very ugly, disgraceful and abominable”. If there are better words to do so, I would have added same to these ones.

Well the case is not too different in other parts of this country as on a daily basis we read screaming headlines of such cases in our immediate environments. In Nasarawa State, a police man was recently reported to have raped a three year old at Mararaba, Karu LGA. A security operative under the Special Joint Task Force was similarly accused of the same offence in Plateau State recently. There is virtually no community that will claim freedom from such attacks as it is just a matter of who, when and where next?

The Save the Children Initiative (STCI), Nigeria in collaboration with West African Network for the Protection of Children (WAN) and others had cause to bring this act being perpetrated against women to the fore in faraway Sokoto, seat of the Caliphate, when it staged a forum to commemorate the 2014 Children’s Day celebration. Leader of the SCTI remarked that, “in Sokoto state and the world in general, rape has been an act that is destroying young generations and producing uncultured adults”. He lamented that this act which had been going on against young girls is today being extended to under aged children”, and I add grandparents.

India, one of the largest democracies in the world, was the center of media bliss when two cousins from the Utah Pradesh State were mercilessly raped, strangulated and hung on a tree in their community apparently for parents to see and be warned that more of such await their children. The rage that this incident drew from the community, Indians and the global family due to the non-chalant or collaborative attitude of security personnel is better imagined.

Sadly, the attitude of Nigerians to cases of rape is appalling. It is a complete show of “after all I am not affected”. Even those entrusted with the duty of protecting citizens are caught in this abuse web. Frustration therefore sets in as was the case with the Imo State case where one respondent in the community stated that when his grandmother was raped two years ago, he reported the incident to the village head who in turn directed him to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) but what came out was rather discouraging. The ‘suspect was arrested and detained by the police and later released and the matter just died like that”. He remarked that “it was the shoddy manner the police handled the previous incident that discouraged him from reporting the recent case”. We are surely culpable.

The fact that these women that are raped are so vulnerable due to societal neglect is cause for concern. Imagine that this 95 year old widow and grandmother could face this heinous crime three times without any one being apprehended and punished for it only depicts how much we care for our community members. It shows the level of being our brothers’ keeper. This is more worrisome as members of that community have been entreating the security guard in her compound to leave so as to pave way for them to carry out the attacks. It is saddening that revelations are to the effect that the villagers “want to kill the old woman in order to take over her late husband’s property”. Shame unto lazy men.

Contributions by various individuals, philanthropists, corporate bodies and governments will be useful if geared towards assisting women so tormented in our midst. That is the more reason why I see the recent dishing out of grants to disadvantaged women in Nasarawa State by the Governor, UmaruTanko Al-Makura as one effort in the right direction.

Governor Al-Makura betrayed his soft spot for these women (made up of widows, physically challenged and barren) when he penciled 1, 4700 for the gesture on the 2014 Democracy Day. This act really showed how a low keyed ceremony ought to be marked as declared. The selection of 10 women from each of the 147 wards that make up Nasarawa State is also commendable. More of such efforts are highly required to take our dear mothers (including potential ones) out of the situation they find themselves.

 

Allahnana Attah via attah1961@gmail.com

 

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