Nigeria: Of Rape and the Way Forward

Rape, murder, violence against women.
17 July 2020

Ilorin — Some days ago, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen disclosed that Nigeria reported 3,600 rape cases since the beginning of lockdown in the country. Besides, the majority of these cases led to loss of lives. This has resulted in outcry by the citizens. Furthermore, they bemoaned the menace and quest for justice.

Of recent, social media has received an enormous number of unsatisfactory comments in the course of this case. Arguably, no one is celebrating the act. Citizens in some states and institutions have carried out peaceful protests against the action. However, it is only the victims of rape, who can explain how gruesome the act is. May rapists not feast on our bodies. Amen.

No doubt, the menace is not a recent phenomenon in this country, and neither is it a new threat ravaging humanity at large. Historically, there were rape cases before the coming of colonial masters. Though, very finite. This was despite the kind of culture in some parts of the country. Today, the number of rape cases has risen compared to yesteryears. So sad, it is increasing every year.

Divergent opinions have flooded the media on the causes of rape. Some commentators believe that no factor can justify rape while others perceive indecent dressing as a leading factor to rape.

To me, both are right. This is based on the environment people inhabit. Whether rape has a cause(s) or not, it depends on the culture of the Nigerian society. A cursory look at this, after a series of observation, each society has different cases of rape. Study the geo-political zones in Nigeria and fact-check by yourself this assertion.

However, a lot of questions have been raised questing for observations and recommendations on the appropriate way(s) to tackle the danger of rape. Based on this, here are my recommendations forward.

To tackle this disheartening act, let's apply the five agents of socialisation. Starting from the family, parents need to educate and enlighten their wards on rape, its atrocities and implications. Children, both male and female, should be given adequate knowledge of sex education.

Schools being the second agent should be used to get rid of rape in the society. Sex education should be put as subject and course in the Nigeria educational system. This will give an avenue for the student to have vast knowledge and understanding of sex education.

Also, peer group is supposed to be given adequate concern. Peer group has influenced rapists greatly in society. Friends whom a child is mingling within the society play a vital role in the life of the child. Surely, imitation would take place. A Yoruba adage says "show me your friend, and I know who you are." Parents have a part to play here. Parents should know and ready to investigate who their children are associating with.

Mass media is another factor which should be given preference to. Unfortunately, mass media has become a corruptible avenue nowadays. Incidences have occurred where a girl was raped due to the "funny" pictures she uploaded. Nothing can be outdated to change. It is never late to reform this habit. Changes can be brought by enacting laws which will regulate media users on their posts and violators of such should face the law. Protests can also be made using social media handles to curtail this menace.

Also, religion is an important medium to curb the act of rape. Clerics should preach against rape and admonish the worshipers on the sins attached to the act.

The government needs to strengthen our judicial system so that the implementation of already made laws on rape should be well established and given a fast approach too. Perpetrators should face the wrath of law without any preference regardless of social stratification. Without the implementation of the law(s) judiciously, cases of rape will continue to rise beyond our expectations.

On a serious note, if there is a possibility of reviewing the laws of rape in our constitution, I recommend there should be comprehensive research on the cases of rape in different parts of the country to understand the concept. And, indecent dressings should be redefined according to the culture of the societies.

Abdulganiyu Abdulrahman Akanbi writes from Ilorin

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