For days I have closely monitored the news on Uwa and have also read up on other stories of people who have mustered bravery to come out to describe their rape ordeals. I for one cannot even comprehend the trauma rape victims go through, I have so much sympathy for anyone who has gone through any sexual assault (both male and female). We have seen the strength of unity; I opened my Instagram feed and everything was black in solidarity of all that is going on right now. But let us take a moment to look at things objectively, do not be scared, come with me.
So that I am not misconstrued in the cause of this write up, I want to say I am in support of peaceful protests, campaigns and anything to create awareness for a noble cause or causes.
For this discussion, our focal point will be on ‘Rape’. Do you know that at least 3 out of 5 people have experienced sexual assault in one form or the other ranging from infancy to adulthood? And this goes for both boys and girls, men and women, I have heard of grown men being drugged and raped by their fellow men, yeah. All though rape in females are more prevalent if we are going to speak out on rape, let’s take all genders into consideration.
Someone termed our generation a generation of “trend”, we speak out on issues more when we see it is a trending topic, after 2 weeks or 3 weeks we are back to normal. One Nigerian Instagram celebrity had an incidence some months ago and she was called out for it, she boldly said “give my matter 1 month, una go forget am” it did not even last 2 weeks, we were on to another issue. Where am I going with this? If all we keep doing when this crisis arise is only carry placards and use hashtags, the matter will die a natural death. I checked to see what solutions people were proffering to curb the rate of rape and all I was seeing is “we want Justice, enough is enough”.
I saw one person who was advising females learn self-defense tackles and where to kick the rapist to immobilize him. That’s a good suggestion but the problem is that, from all the testimonies from victims of rape that I have seen, their first instinct and response to rape isn’t quite self-defense, it is fear, shock and confusion! Let me even share an experience, I had learnt self-defense techniques a long time ago, and I had said if I was ever in a situation that warranted the use of the techniques, I go break person bone. In 2019 I went to Balogun market and on my way back it was rush hour and there was hold up, keke was scarce I saw one with the only space being in front, I hurriedly entered.
All the bags I had, I put them on my laps and was facing front. Some minutes into the ride we encountered standstill hold up, so we were at one spot for so long, suddenly I felt a hand under my bags rubbing my left thigh, my first thought was that it was a mistake, surely this responsible looking man cannot be doing what I think he is doing, I spent the next minutes questioning my own self, is it because I am not wearing long dress? Why would he be doing this to me in a public place? When I snapped out of the shock, I came down and decided to walk till I see another one. It wasn’t until I got home later that I remembered that I could have slapped him. My first instinct wasn’t defense.
So, I do not think that learning self-defense is enough. Here are some of the things I think we can protest towards:
- Demanding that rapists get death penalty (the jail term for rapists right now isn’t even up to 50 years).
- That the law that states the legal age of consent of 11 years for females be changed to 18 years
- That sex education be taught as early as primary 1 in schools (not to be waiting till SS3 to teach reproduction in biology)
There should be a more reputable government funded organization that caters to rape victims, a place that can house and rehabilitate them. Also, I know this might take a while, but it’s high time we start using DNA in Nigeria, DNA doesn’t lie, our police should get training on collecting biological evidence and using rape test kit on victims when they are investigating a rape incident, DNA testing will also prevent innocent men and women from taking a fall for crimes they did not commit.
Let our mindset be always to find solutions, if not the problems will keep resurfacing.
Article By: Sally Atulegwu