• Thursday, July 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

In support of Ibijoke Sanwo-olu’s war against rape

In support of Ibijoke Sanwo-olu’s war against rape

 

 

 

The War against Rape has the interesting acronym of WaR. And that is precisely what it should be, beyond sentiments and semantics. Or, how exactly can we-the few amongst the living with the human heart still beating in our thoracic cavity–explain the recent terrifying and gripping news headlines? Let us consider the following as listed: “Men of the Ondo State Police Command have arrested a pastor of a white garment church for allegedly raping a pregnant woman”. That was reported by the media on December11, 2021. You cannot but ask yourself the touching question-a pastor, raping a pregnant woman? I feel like puking! But there was more to come.

Next came this nauseating piece of news:“Men of Ogun State Police Command have arrested a pastor, Peter Taiwo of Christ Apostolic Bible church, AlajaOke, Saje, Abeokuta and his wife, Elizabeth Taiwo for allegedly conniving with her husband for defiling a 16-year-old choir member of his church”.That was reported on December 12, 2021, just the following day!Then you ask again-another pastor

Unfortunately, they are only part of the recurring ugly decimal of rampant rape that has bedeviled our dear country, Nigeria. For instance, there have been similar reports with the disturbing headlines. “University student, Uwavera Omozuwa is allegedly raped and dies in a church after her head is smashed with a fire extinguisher; a suspect has been arrested.”

“I am a voice to the voiceless and I will use my position to achieve that to the best of my ability. If someone is being raped somewhere, they should have hope and know that I am their voice.But we cannot achieve this alone, it is a collective effort by all stakeholders.” – Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, First Lady of Lagos State

Similarly, another headline screamed out that: “A 12-year-old girl is raped over two months ago in north-west Jigawa state; 11 arrests have been made”. That was up north. Down south was that of “Barakat Bello allegedly gang-raped and murdered in Oyo state; no arrest has been made.”

As for Lagos state, the statement credited to the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosuwas disturbing. It stated that Lagos recorded 91 rape cases in two months! That was on March 23, 2021. Amongst these was that of: “Tina Ezekwe is killed by a policeman; two policemen have been arrested”.Raped by policemen? The same set of security personnel paid to protect the lives and property of the helpless citizens? Wonders will never end.

There was also the harrowing incident of one Kehinde Osakede, allegedly raped by the man she thought would give her protection during the COVID-19 pandemic. That was in April 2020. She thought about suicide after the beatings she received from him!

Read also: WARIF Raises Awareness to Rape and Sexual Violence with 3rd Annual No Tolerance March

These and more should be ample reasons to explain why the humanist of a First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu is sore worried about the escalating cases of rape and deciding to raise the solid bar to stem the rising tide in the Centre of Excellence and beyond.

According to the results of a survey published by NOIPolls in July 2019, up to one in every three girls (33%) living in Nigeria could have experienced at least one form of sexual assault by the time they reach 25. By the way, the Opinion Polling Centre (NOPC) has a database of over 70 million phone numbers, and is dedicated to capturing opinions of Nigerians.Those are the ones reported to relevant authorities.

As it has rightly noted: “It is not uncommon for rape to go unreported – with some victims and their families, fearing stigmatisation, police extortion and a lack of trust in the judicial process, choose not to report cases to the authorities.”

It is therefore, understandable the salient reasons that have underscored Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu’s recent vow to continue to be a voice to the voiceless towards stamping out all forms of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), especially rape of women and girls and defilement of minors.

This she reinforced during the continuation of her SGBV advocacy visit to the Lagos State Judiciary, the State Police Command, and various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) providing shelter for rape victims in the state. The advocacy visit was in furtherance of the ongoing global 16 days of activism against SGBV designed to eliminate violence against women and girls. This move is highly commendable.

It would be recalled that yours truly had his Opinion Essay titled: “The Rapists Must Die!” published by several newspapers back in September 2011. My personal anger then stemmed from the odious tale of how a helpless female undergraduate of Abia State University was gang-raped by five male beasts in human skin.

This beastly criminality is better imagined than experienced. For instance, PM News of September 15, 2011 published the heart-rending and horrendous ordeal of a Lagos-based housewife, Mrs Ugonma Agu who was similarly gang-raped by some heartless armed robbers and got pregnant in the process!

Her journey was to enable her to meet with her husband, Mr. Romanus Agu in Italy but it was never to be. She was disposed of the money on her. Curiously, the husband called for a divorce! How terrible and sordid an experience for our defenceless women.

Yet, it got even more painful when those entrusted with the sensitive duty of nurturing our children to adulthood become the perpetrators of rape. One report that is still fresh in one’s memory was that of a primary school teacher that goes by the name of Pastor Hose. On June 3, 2008 a large number of parents, pupils and onlookers were stunned at the Magistrate Court, Otta when he confessed to the crime of raping ten of his pupils at Abule-Ekun, Ogun State.

A mother of three of the victims, Mrs Kafiyat Amole, a hair dresser had this to say: “This bad man raped my three children, Dupe 10; Shade, 7 and Julie 5 and they were confirmed by medical doctors at different hospitals that they have been infected. On the white handkerchief he allegedly used in cleaning their private parts, how are we sure these children will have children in future?”What a thought-provoking question begging for answers.

On the querulous issue of justice, personally, I would suggest death penalty for all confirmed rapists as supported by Deuteronomy Chapter 22 verse 25. Only this will serve as a strong deterrence to those possessed by the raging spirit of lust.

Parents should spend more quality time with their daughters, enlightening them on what to look out for and avoid in their relationship with men. Dr. Ibijoke has encouraged victims to use the family courts and not jettison their matters and opt for juicy offers by the perpetrators.

So far, 3193 reported cases related to sexual abuse, defilement of minors and domestic violence have been recorded in Lagos state. The toll- free number to call is 08000333333 or Send ‘HELP’ to 6820, or dial *6820# on Airtel or MTN mobile networks.

I urge the surviving victims to speak up! In the words of Alex Elle, “You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.”

In the light of the above-stated, one heartily commends the patriotic efforts of Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu. But as she rightly noted, she cannot do it all alone. We all the stakeholders, as parents, teachers, pastors, preachers, imams and traditional rulers should play our parts right from our schools to churches and mosques. We should join hands in identifying and curbing the root causes of the criminal element of rape from the Nigeria’s social spectrum.

As Martin Luther King Jnr wisely stated,“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter”- Enough is truly enough!