By Dotun Adepoju
Barely a day now goes by without one reading the sad news report of yet another rape atrocity against women in Nigeria! This madness is now getting to such an extent that even the already pathetically useless, badly trained and incompetent Nigeria Police Force (NPF) who so happens “to be our friend” do almost little or close to nothing in prosecuting alleged suspects of rape. They just do not have the training even on how to handle victims. The male members of the NPF who attend to rape reports, and thus victims, are so crass it is unbelievable!
One of the most annoying things one comes across in the news report is where the alleged suspects use that same old chestnut “I am sorry, it was the devil that tempted… if you let me go I will not do this again”. These stupendous statements to one’s shock are sometimes accepted not only as mia culpa indeed but sometimes reasons for letting alleged suspects get away with it. Their release from detention is predictably and always usually after a short spell in police custody after they would have bribed their way out of prison. These shameless lunatics – alleged suspects - sometimes often return to the same neighbourhood where their victims reside simply because they too happen to live in same place! Are the authorities in charge of managing these incidents so callous?
Nigeria’s domestic rape victims are getting younger and this often now borders on paedophilia! How on earth does one stomach the news of the raped babies and children yet undeveloped? Rape victims are also sometimes young girls – usually children of other people - brought to the city from the village as house help or maids. Why are we so unprepared to make an issue of these atrocities and cry out loud? If you are a parent reading this how would you address the issue if your child was a victim of rape? Would you be embarrassed by it or would you fight ferociously for the suspects to be brought to justice? Why do we treat the abuse of children of poor people as being inconsequential? When did you ever read in the news of the rape of Mr Big Time’s daughter in VGC, Ikoyi or some posh neighbourhood in Lekki? Why is the rape of the poor bus conductor’s daughter, house girl next door, etc so irrelevant?
It is about time Nigeria and her rulers (I am sorry I can not refer to these often-times rogues as ‘leaders’) took the issue of violence against women and their protection very seriously. In the absence of real justice for rape victims it is almost tempting to suggest that rapists should be treated as armed robbers caught in the act where instant and street justice is dealt. That would result in anarchy but where is the justice for example, for the illiterate house girl raped by oga’s best friend when Nigeria Police say it has been ‘settled’?
Where is the justice for the little girl raped by the deluded Pentecostal preacher who claims to be healing her of evil spirit? Where is the justice for the rape of a baby by the next door neighbour in the face-to-face room type accommodation in that poor part of town? Where is the justice for the abuse of school girls fingered and interfered with by a deranged school head mistress? Where is the justice for twelve year old girl raped but still yet still beaten and tortured by her guardian for being raped as if it was her fault? Are we as Nigerians so stupendously barbaric? This brings me to role of our so called First Ladies or whatever these sometimes inconsequential time wasters are called at federal or State levels. If in the absence of anything tangible to do, why can’t these women take up this issue of violence against women and rape issue in Nigeria? Do women have to be attacked, raped and sometimes killed as in often reported in India today before these currently inconsequential First Ladies (sic) get off their over-privileged narrow behinds to take up these issues? If there is only one thing these so called First Ladies (sic) can do and achieve during their husbands’ tenure in office, it should be to address the issue of women’s health, their Rights and protection from domestic violence and more importantly the rise of rape and abuse of women in Nigeria. Yes! It happens in Nigeria and in your faces too! We can not pretend and look the other way hoping this embarrassing and dirty deed would be swept under the carpet.
Nigeria might not be a haven for peace, tranquillity, good governance and accountability but heck it must not be allowed to become the rape capital of women in Africa. A certain part of the continent holds that dubious record (go figure for yourself). Rape and abuse of women is something we must not continue to look the other way and just hope the issue would go away. Nigeria is not ‘yet’ at India’s level of reported rape and abuse of women. However the rape and abuse of our women, girls and babies must not be allowed to go unpunished. With a population of over 160 million in the country, treating and counselling rapists is of no consequence and not a priority in myriad of issues facing the country under bad and corrupt governance. Capital punishment for convicted rapists would NOT be too harsh in my books. There are many Nigerians out there who will be happy to pull the lever and watch rapists swing. Alternatively convicted rapists can volunteer themselves for chemical castration provided they pay for it themselves and is not funded by tax payers money from the State.
As a man I am really angry. I can only imagine what and how Nigerian women feel.