All through the passage of time women have always been perceived as the weaker vessel, and so have been subjugated and oppressed by culture in most African societies, including Nigeria. Today, we shall conclude our five-part treatise on this vexed issue of rape that has become a rampaging monster in our societies.
How to Curb the Scourge of Rape in Nigeria
Parents should strictly monitor their children and be mindful of those in whose care they are left, be it friends, relatives, or guardians; Parents should have regular open discussions with their children, and also create room for their children to freely express themselves, as no child will want to discuss with stone-walling parents.
The current laws governing rape are antiquated, and were mostly copied from the Common Law. There is the urgent need to embrace international best practices, which include creating room for rape of the male gender. Medical forensic evidence must be encouraged, once a victim reports at a hospital or Police station. Forensic examination resources and personnel such as rape kits, voice analysis, facial recognition systems, handwriting analysis and fingerprints impression should be made readily available, and immediate response be given to individual cases as rape is a very sensitive matter that should be given urgent attention. Traces of DNA from blood, hair, skin, saliva, semen, teeth bite, scratches, bruises, must be quickly obtained to aid corroborative evidence.
Procedural tests should be carried out, to diagnose infections that may have been contracted during rape; the length of trial of rape cases should be abridged to enable victims to be able to recount the assault experience with very slight or no variation, while giving evidence.
To reduce social stigma, victims of rape should be accorded secrecy through giving recorded evidence, or taking evidence whilst being screened away from open court.
Rape has become a scourge, a pandemic and an embarrassment to Nigeria. It is a constant and prevailing problem in our country and we can no longer continue to turn deaf ears to its evils. It is in our best interest as Nigerians, to see that rape is comprehensively defeated in Nigeria.
Rape is like corrosive cancer. It has no respect for age, sex or race. It starts from a spot, and then gradually spreads to the entire body system. While spreading, it steals a victor’s pleasurable desires, purposeful drive and prospective dreams, and in many cases, life. It causes one to start questioning their beliefs, and reasons for existence.
Rape is highly condemnable, it is an unjustifiable act in our society and it is, finally, time that we rise as a nation to condemn and eradicate this despicable act. The fight against rape, cannot be left only for the government to curb alone. For it is better to avoid a problem, than to look for a solution. Everyone should be enlightened about the evils of rape, as everyone has a relative that is a child. Legislative reform, is one of the mechanisms available to respond to problems arising from the ills of rape in our society. The rich provisions of the fundamental human rights as enshrined in chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution, promise a beautiful future for women/girls, but only if the government fulfils its obligations. In the light of the current realities, NASS should redeem its image and show its commitment, by passing a bill on violence against the girl-child, with maximum punishment.
To end rape, the society itself must also shatter the rape culture that it has developed overtime. We need to start teaching consent and sex education, right from Nursery and Primary schools. Boys need to be taught that, they are not entitled to anyone’s body or thing; that before you can have sexual relations with a lady, you need her to permit you to. Men need to be taught that women do not exist merely as objects of gratification of their libidinous excesses; that you do not (own any woman), not even your wife. We all need to understand that being in a relationship with a girl, does not automatically give you the right over her body; that spending money on a girl does not entitle us to force sex with her. We must appreciate that the fact that a girl has turned you on sexually, does not mean that she wants sex with you; and that consent can be withdrawn midway through sex. We need to understand that “no” means “no”, and does not mean “convince me”. The girl child must be taught proper dressing that does not expose her body; not to unduly seduce men; and to keep away from strangers or family members of questionable character.
We also need law reforms to recognise spousal rape and post-penetration rape, in our legal system. Rape must be made wholly unattractive – by activating the full weight of the law on violators through adequate punishment. False rape accusers, must be diligently prosecuted. In the end, whether we like it or not, we are all stakeholders, involved in the war against the rape scourge. (Concluded).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Blaming the victim is an act of refuge and self-deception. It allows the blamer to sit in judgement, imagining some mystical justice that means bad things happen only to bad people, thus, ensuring their own safety.” (Una)