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How rapists murdered sleep in Nigeria

…FG needs to go beyond condemnation, threat…Citizens blame loss of values, internet exposure, others for upsurge

It appears these are dangerous times for Nigerian girls and women of different ages as rapists seem to be more vicious and on the loose in society.

Rape has now become a common phenomenon that occurs worldwide, and it is also a social crime that has been committed severally in many societies, even in the civilised world.

Gone are the days when the fear was only about young girls. Today, nobody of the feminine gender is spared. Girls of two months old, one year, young girls, old women and very old women are falling victim of rape.

In the past few weeks, the media have been awash with mindboggling reports of savage attacks on girls and women, irrespective of their age, by men and young boys of ‘no conscience’.

Few days back, reports made the round about the rape and eventual death of Uwaila Omozuwa, a 22-year old 100-level Microbiology student of the University of Benin, which took place in a church in Benin City, Edo State Capital, while she was reading.

Also, there were reports about the rape and murder of Barakat Bello, a 19-year-old student of the Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training, Ibadan, Oyo State, in her father’s house, and Joy Adoki, a 400-level student of the Department of Management Science, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, who was raped, murdered and buried in a shallow grave by her assailant.

Aside these, news also made the round about the rape and murder of one Queen Igbinevho, the pregnant wife of a politician in Benin City, Edo State, and it was reported that her attackers were said to have gained entrance into her home through the ceiling. These were aside the rape case of Tina Ezekwe, and the reported rape of a minor in Jigawa state.

Available data suggests that in some countries, one in five women report sexual violence or being raped by fathers and intimate partner. This cuts across diverse age range of victims from toddlers and children to even older victims of 70 years old, with over 70 percent of the victims under 19.

Many people have wondered why cases of rape continue to spike despite lockdown. Many say that the rational thing should have been a sharp drop in the incidence since the lockdown has made it possible for randy men to stay home with their families.

Reacting to the paradox, Kazeem Agboola, a public affairs analyst, said: “There are men that were used to patronising brothels and prostitutes, or those who hang around with girls and ladies after work hours. They never go home straight after closing from their place of work. They always give excuses of hold up or extended assignments, meetings in the office. With the lockdown, curfew and the shutdown of hotel and brothel activities, such men are now being forced to stay home willy-nilly.”

According to him, “And because they have become obsessed with such habits, they begin to look ‘inwards’. They not only abuse their legitimate wives, they begin to abuse girls around their environment at every slightest opportunity.”

Agboola further explained that some boys that used to have access to loosed girls on the streets, schools, and other social places no longer see such “free donors”, they now pounce on vulnerable girls and women around them.

“Don’t forget that the lockdown has given some youths all the time to browse all manner of things on the Internet. In fact, according to some stories, some of the youths are now learning how to rape women and girls on the Internet. They join such cult groups online, and they want to physically put such things into practice. Chances are that if not the lockdown; if they had been in school or engaged in their studies, they would not have had the time to roam the net and picking dangerous ideas,” he further said.

Supporting this fact, Pauline Tallen, minister of Women Affairs, said at the media briefing held on Monday, 8th June, 2020, that it has been brought to her attention that the rising incidences of Sexual and Gender-Based violence could also been traced to violations by fathers and intimate partner abuse, which according to her, were as a result of some measures taken by the Federal Government to flatten the curve of COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of such is the lockdown, where victims were locked in with their abusers, with no respite in sight. This was further made worse as SGBV interventions were not classified under essential services. We thank all members of Civil Society Organisations, who took it upon themselves to save the lives of these victims at the peak of the lockdown,” she said.

The minister however, said that the theme of the 2020 Day of the African Child ‘Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa,’ further strengthens the advocacy to demand for justice for those who have lost their lives and those who have lost their dignity as a result of violence meted out to them. “We remember today with pains in our hearts the rape of the 12 years old girl by 11 men in Jigawa State and the rape of a 4 years old girl by her school teacher.”

“Rapists are on the loose in Nigeria today due to the rising intake of alcohol and drug abuse among youths, idleness, pornography exposure, psychological disorder, and bad company, among youths,” Justina Olusi, a counselor in one of the secondary schools in Lagos, said.

According to her, today’s youths are being bombarded by modern influences seen in the internet, watched in pornographic movies and television in addition to sex novels and books, which they read freely.

Olusi, who also blamed gaps in parental upbringing and teaching of morals in homes for the delinquencies among youths, said many parents hardly spend time with their children at home rather many of them prefer making ends meet to keeping ample eyes on their wards.

“This is why many children are left in the hands of house maids, nannies and other care givers, who in most cases end up harming the children’s behaviour rather than making them. On the other hand, exposing younger generation to immoral movies puts youths under pressure to go into sex by all means. As a result, young ones are always under pressure to experience sex, and in some cases, end up in raping their female counterparts,” Olusi stated.

Speaking on the role Nigeria’s justice system plays in putting an end to rape, Ikenna Ugwu, a father of three daughters, told BDSUNDAY that many cases of violence against girls and women often go unpunished as many suspects are not being prosecuted or jailed.

“Nigeria’s weak law enforcement creates an environment where rapists go free. In most cases police in Nigeria seems to contribute to the culture of tolerance for sexual violence against women. In this part of the world, policemen are fond of treating rape victims as though they are the offenders, and in some cases the police accuse the victims of consenting to sexual intercourse with rapists,” Ugwu said.

On her parts, Gloria Oke, a mother of four said: “Inappropriate dressing that often exposes the part of body that ought to be covered from public view, ends up luring the opposite sex, and compels them to have lustful thoughts that may eventually lead to rape.”

Presently, the rise in cases of rape against girls, women and underage has been generating concerns among governments at all levels, civil society groups and concerned individuals

President Muhammadu Buhari during the national broadcast to mark Democracy Day, June 12th, 2020, said that he was particularly upset at recent incidents of rape, especially of very young girls in the country.

According to him, the Police are pursuing these cases with a view to bringing perpetrators of these heinous crimes to swift justice.

“I assure all our women of this administration’s determination to fight gender-based violence through the instrumentality of the law and awareness creation. Nigerian women remain a particular treasure to the nation, and that this administration has continued to give them a place of pride in the affairs of our country,” Buhari assured.

Meanwhile, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), has called for the establishment of special courts to try sexual offenders.

Julie Donli-Okah, director-general of NAPTIP, who spoke at a media briefing in Abuja last Wednesday, said the special courts will allow for speedy trial of all persons accused of rape.

She however, expressed concerns over the non-adoption of the Violence against Persons Act by state governments, stating that such states are inadvertently promoting sexual violence in their domain.

However, in what seems like a step in the right direction, the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly has started the process of enacting a bill titled, ‘Rape and Insurgency Victims Stigmatization (Prohibition) Bill 2019’, to protect victims of rape against any form of stigmatisation in society.

The bill, which scaled second reading during the last Wednesday’s plenary session, provides for the prosecution and punishment of any person or group of persons who stigmatises such victims.

Mohammed Musa, the senator, who sponsored the bill, said if passed into law, the bill would encourage victims of rape to testify in court and also ensure their re-integration into the society.

Musa, who described the condition most victims of rape are exposed to as traumatic, blamed the ‘ineptitude’ of the Nigerian justice system.

“The justice system in Nigeria is incredibly inept such that when a rape victim goes to the police to report and the policeman or woman tells the victim to go and sort it out at home as it is a domestic case, and the consequences of such act is that the victim is left at the mercy of the society without any protection.

“We are all living witnesses to the upsurge of the criminality of rape and the destruction of lives being perpetrated by those coward criminals in our communities, coupled with the fact that our country has an extremely low conviction rate for rape and sexual abuses despite the increase in violence against women in recent years,” he said.

BDSUNDAY gathered that Ahmad Lawan, Senate president, has referred the bill to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative work.

The Committee, which is chaired by Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC senator– Ekiti Central), is expected to submit its report to the Senate in four weeks.

Earlier, the House of Representatives had voted against a motion seeking to recommend castration as punishment for rapists.

At the plenary two Thursdays ago, the House rejected the motion which was earlier recommended by a member, James Faleke, who moved the motion against the backdrop of rising cases of sexual violence in Nigeria.

Analysts have urged government to go beyond mere threat and rash of condemnation to ensuring that the issue of rape is addressed once and for all.

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