By Owolabi Kuburat Omobolanle
From time immemorial, women have always been the major victim of our society ills. They have always been considered as weaklings, subjecting them to various barbaric act and injustice. They have always been discriminated and considered unequal to the men, and as such, they face series of cruel and unjustifiable acts such as sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment everywhere they go; either on the street, workplace, schools, family etc, trafficking, Prostitution among others.
However, the prevalent among all these barbaric and cruel acts against women is rape. Rape, also considered sexual assault, in some part of the world such as Australia, Canada etc, is so alarming that it has become a daily occurrence in our society.Rape according to Oxford English Dictionary, is the act of forcing sexual intercourse upon another person without their assent or against their will; Originally coitus forced by a man on a woman. Ightisaab is an Arabic word for rape, meaning to take something wrongfully by force. Rape is sometimes defined and classified differently by some countries. While some believed marital rape is a form of rape and so illegal, some countries like India, Iran, Ghana and northern part of Nigeria, believe marital rape is legal and not a type of rape.
Rape is sometimes differed in terms of it’s victim. While it is believed that unlawful sexual intercourse with an under age child below 12 is defilement not rape, it is also believed that unlawful sexual intercourse with an adult above 12 or 15 is rape, as contained in section 218 of the Criminal Code Act 2004. Regardless, it can’t be denied that both the act of rape and defilement are criminal and barbaric act that is done mostly to the women notwithstanding the age. It is sometimes argued that men fall victims of rape however it is wildly known that 7 out of 10 victims of rape are women and what’s more is the believe of some countries that it’s impossible for a man to be raped. For instance the Nigeria Federal Capital Territory’s Violence against Persons Prohibition Act believe a rape is a criminal act done to the women alone.Therefore, it is wildly known that Rape is a cruel and injurious act done mostly to the women and because of it’s dangerous effect on the lives of many aspiring females, rape stands as an act of terrorism against women irrespective of the age, race or color.
Rape is an act of terror that has been destroying the lives and future of many ambitious and talented women. Different women with great dreams to become a doctor, lawyer, banker, surgeon, mother, wife etc have watched their dreams and dignity shattered and taken away before their eyes by some maniac paedophile or rapist.
Rape is an act of terror and war against feminists. Rape isn’t only a traumatic experience for the victims, it is an act that hurt women in a physical, psychological and sociological way for as long as you could imagine. Women who have been raped irregardless of the age, suffers different form of health problems such as Vaginal Bleeding or Infection, Hypoactive Sexual Disorder, Unwanted Pregnancy, Vagina Inflammation, HIV/AIDS and even death in some cases. Women who have fallen victims of rape also experience anxiety, fear, depression, restlessness, feelings of uneasiness, panic attack, self blame, anger, isolation, aggression, feeling of shame and suicide as psychological effects of rape. As if that’s not enough, rape victims have to live the rest of their lives being stigmatized and being pitied for being raped. They have to live the rest of their lives with the huge scar of being raped and taken advantage of.
Now people start to question, ‘Why do we have so many ladies in prostitution today?’, ‘Why do we have a very high rate of premature pregnancy and child mortality in the world?’, ‘Why do we have a larger ratio of young, vibrant ladies committing suicide?’, ‘Why do we have a higher percentage of women as victims of AIDS and HIV?’, Why this, why that? Not considering the Fate of over 50% of women, child/ adult being raped in our world, forgetting how dangerous the effect of rape is and how it poses as a great threat to our women. Most ladies venture into prostitution because of Hypoactive Sexual Disorder caused by rape and the feeling of worthlessness people made them feel. Many women are now in the business of armed robbery, kidnapping, assassination and other atrocities due to anger, aggression and vengeance as psychological effects of rape. Cases of suicide is so alarming that it has become a daily occurrence, having most of its victims as females. The society’s approach towards rape is one of the major reasons, women resort to suicide after rape due to the stigmatism and shifting of blame.
We live in a world that focus more on what the victim was wearing and where she was when she was raped rather than the need to punish the rapist. A society where the testimony of the victim is useless against that of the perpetrator because he belongs to a high class. A society where the perpetrator go Scot free due to lack of evidence by the victim.
Now, women don’t just face the horrible reality of being raped alone but the society uncultured believe which tends to trivialize and normalize rape. That’s why women keep falling victims because they couldn’t speak out and fight against being raped due to society’s approach of stigmatising the victims and trivializing rape.
I couldn’t help but cry when I saw the picture of an eight year old girl going viral on social media after she has been raped. In that picture, she was wearing a white T-shirt up to her knee, stained with blood. Everybody keep dropping comment, giving all sort of savage and pitiful comments. And that’s all we care to do, just for a few comments and likes on social media, not minding the future of that little girl. Not minding how she’d live the rest of her life as a girl whose picture once went viral for being raped. Forgetting how hypocritic people can be, that these same people pitying and posting soothing comments are the same set of people that’d mock her if she becomes a HIV/AIDS patient or stop her from getting married to their sons. Isn’t that the cruel world women find themselves trying to survive?
In the ancient time in some part of the world such as Libya, Afghanistan etc, rape victims are sometimes killed because they believe the victims have lost their dignity, therefore the need to kill them in order to restore the family lost honor. In one of Shakespeare drama titled Titus Androniclus, Titus killed his raped and maimed daughter, Livinia for what he believed to be a mercy killing. These are few out of the list of horrifying things women faced for being raped in our society.
Considering how harmful and scary the act of rape is to the women and society at large, different laws have been passed by different countries and different treaties codified to punish the rapists and protect the victims. Imprisonment is the most common punishment given to rapist and death penalty in some cases. Countries such as France, Irelsnd, Nigeria etc gives imprisonment for rape. While countries like India, Iran, United Arab Emirates etc give death penalty as a punishment for rape although some factors are to be considered in some cases. For instance death sentence is given in India if the victim dies or is put in a persistent vegetative state or if the rapist is a repeat offender.
Generally there’s no uniform law for rape although different laws and treaties have been codified in order to protect the right of child and women, different countries still haven’t adopted such laws. For example, marital rape which is included in the 1993 declaration on the elimination of violence against women still haven’t been accepted by countries such as India, Lesotho, Ghana and Northern part of Nigeria as they still accept marital rape as legal. The same thing with Child Right Act, which was adopted by Nigeria in 2003, still haven’t been accepted by some states in Nigeria like Sokoto. The inconsistency in rape laws is one of the reasons rape remain persistently on the increase. Nigeria alone has four laws put in place to address the issue of rape against children and women. We have the Criminal Code Act; which is applicable in the Southern states, The Penal Code; which is applicable in the Northern states, The Violence against Persons Prohibition Act and The Child Right Act. I believe this isn’t enough strategy to curb Rape, a global collaboration is needed to create a hostile environment and punishment for rapist in all countries.
Furthermore, we all need to focus more on the preventive measures rather than the curative measures. Prevention they say, is better than cure. Life imprisonment, castration and even death penalty are all curative measures which only focus on the perpetrators and not the future of the victims and women. Punishing the offender isn’t enough, after all India gives death penalty as a punishment for rape, yet, remain one of the top 10 nations of the world where women are being abused. To curb rape, we need to uproot it from the root so it doesn’t grow anymore. And we can start from the family. The first agent of socialization is the family. To stop the barbaric act of rape, we need every family hands on deck to take the pain of educating their child irrespective of the sex about sex education. Parents should make time for their kids and ensure the safety of their kids. There’s also the need to curb drug abuse in our society. Most of these rapists are on drugs thereby making them do things they wouldn’t have done in their right sense. Another preventive measure to be taken is advocating against gender inequality. Discrimination and violence should be shunned and made unacceptable. Also, preventing cultural values that support, commonize and tolerate sexual assault is another major measures to be taken.
In conclusion, women whom I believe to be the pillars holding our world deserves a better treatment. They deserve a safe environment where they are being cherished and protected. Rape is a threat to feminism, a threat to the bright future of every women in our world and a bigger threat to our world. I believe we all need to come together to protect our women from the uncultured act of rape and it’s dangerous effects that comes with it.Rape isn’t just a common crime, it’s an act of terrorism against our women whether young or old and together we need to fight it.
Owolabi Kuburat Omobolanle is a Public Affairs Analyst.