Still left to lick their tears

The Punch - - INFORMATIO­N TECHNOLOGY -

and the fact that the wheel of jus­tice turns slowly, there is a wide­spread be­lief that rape cases are on the rise in Nige­ria. A study con­ducted by the United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund found that one in four girls and one in 10 boys have ex­pe­ri­enced sexual abuse at some point.

The study also says that 70 per cent of these num­bers had ex­pe­ri­enced more than one in­ci­dent of sexual assault. In 2013, the Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­ment, Human Rights and Devel­op­ment, an NGO, re­ported that in 2012, about 1,200 girls were raped in Rivers State.

Sta­tis­tics ob­tained from a Sexual Assault Re­fer­ral Cen­tre, Mirabel Cen­tre also showed that 4,947 vic­tims were sex­u­ally vi­o­lated be­tween July 2013 – Oc­to­ber 2019 mostly in La­gos State. But 3,758 of the 4,947 were de­filed vic­tims; more so, from July to De­cem­ber 2013, 115 vic­tims within the age bracket 0-17 were sex­u­ally vi­o­lated. In the same ter­rain, 264 vic­tims were sex­u­ally abused in 2014; in 2015, 476 vic­tims; in 2016, 796 vic­tims; in 2017, 819 vic­tims; in 2018, 849 vic­tims, while 678 vic­tims within the same age bracket were sex­u­ally vi­o­lated within Jan­uary to Oc­to­ber 2019.

In­fer­ences drawn from these sta­tis­tics showed that there is an up­surge in de­file­ment cases in the coun­try. Ev­ery week the print and elec­tronic me­dia, churn out con­tents that chron­i­cle this grue­some act on hap­less and vul­ner­a­ble vic­tims.

Ear­lier in the year, a Su­per­vi­sor in Chris­land School, Adeg­boyega Adenekan, who de­filed twoyear-old Paulina (pseu­do­nym) on the school’s premises was sen­tenced to 60 years im­pris­on­ment, with­out an op­tion of fine, by Jus­tice Sy­bil Nwaka, of the La­gos State Spe­cial Of­fences Court.

Nwaka, while de­liv­er­ing her judg­ment had said that “The vic­tim, in her ev­i­dence be­fore the court, said Mr Adenekan put his mouth and his hand in her wee-wee (pri­vate parts). She also said that the su­per­vi­sor put his mouth in the pri­vate parts of her best friend (name with­held).

“The lit­tle girl said Adenekan cov­ered her mouth when she at­tempted to shout and that he de­filed her twice on the school premises, at his of­fice and the hall­way. I have no doubt in my mind that this de­fen­dant, Adenekan, is the same per­son the vic­tim said put his hand in her pri­vate parts and there­fore, the de­fen­dant is con­victed ac­cord­ingly and sen­tenced to 60 years’ im­pris­on­ment.”

In an­other devel­op­ment, one Terna Taga, 18, was nabbed for al­legedly de­fil­ing and im­preg­nat­ing an in­ter­nally dis­placed per­son, Aisha (pseu­do­nym), 10, in Benue State.

The state Po­lice Public Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Catherine Anene, who con­firmed Taga’s ar­rest on Tues­day, Au­gust 6, 2019, said Aisha ran away from home after she got the in­for­ma­tion that her guardian wanted to marry her out to an el­derly man to cover the shame of be­ing preg­nant out of wed­lock.

Ac­cord­ing to reports, good Sa­mar­i­tans who found Aisha where she was dumped took her to the Foun­da­tion Memo­rial Hospi­tal where she gave birth through a cae­sarean sec­tion.

Also, on July 4, 2018, five male teach­ers of the Polytech­nic Staff School, Waziri Umaru Fed­eral Polytech­nic, Birnin-kebbi, Kebbi State, were dis­missed for al­legedly im­preg­nat­ing a Se­nior Sec­ondary School 3 fe­male pupil, Hadija (pseu­do­nym). The school’s Vice-prin­ci­pal, Ou­mar Woulan­dakoye, was said to have con­firmed the in­ci­dent.

Re­cently, a 42-year-old fa­ther, Taofeek Oyeyemi, was ar­rested for al­legedly im­preg­nat­ing his 16-year-old daugh­ter in Ogun State. The fa­ther of 17 chil­dren was said to have taken his daugh­ter to a quack for an abor­tion after dis­cov­er­ing that she was preg­nant for him.

After the abor­tion, the state Po­lice Public Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Abim­bola Oyeyemi, said in a state­ment on Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 19, 2019, that the vic­tim started bleed­ing pro­fusely and in­formed her mother who re­ported to the Ewekoro Po­lice Sta­tion, where of­fi­cers were mo­bilised to ar­rest her fa­ther.

Also, a prin­ci­pal, Sam­son Adeyemo, 30, was ar­rested for al­legedly de­fil­ing twin sis­ters, 17, and im­preg­nated one of them at Beck­ley Es­tate, in the Abule-egba area of La­gos State.

“He con­tin­ued hav­ing sex with me un­til I be­came preg­nant,” one of the vic­tims said, adding that, “when my mother con­fronted me with a slap about the preg­nancy, I told her it was the prin­ci­pal,” the vic­tim said.

Adeyemo had been stand­ing trial in court for the crime.

Drugs, pornog­ra­phy and fam­ily

Dr Valen­tine Ezeh of the Psy­cho­log­i­cal Depart­ment of the Univer­sity of Nige­ria, at­trib­uted the grow­ing scourge of de­file­ment to drug and al­co­hol abuse, easy ac­cess to porno­graphic con­tent and the pro­mo­tion of nu­dity via the en­ter­tain­ment and ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try, among oth­ers, all of which trig­ger the cog­ni­tive drive that makes peo­ple sex­u­ally aroused and ne­ces­si­tate them to pounce on de­fence­less mi­nors as hosts to quench their sexual de­sires.

He said, “80 per cent of the per­pe­tra­tors of de­file­ment is known by the fam­ily of the vic­tims and only 20 per cent are the peo­ple that de­filed the vic­tims on their way. The crime is caused by a high sexual drive and what makes peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence high sexual drive is drug and al­co­hol abuse, the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, pornog­ra­phy films which can be eas­ily ac­cessed, and ad­ver­tise­ment which has through the con­cept of body ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion, turned women’s bod­ies into ob­jects for men’s de­sires as the women have also in­cul­cated that by work­ing hard on their body to be a bet­ter ob­ject for men.

“All these build up a sexual drive in­side some­one and when the drive is built up, it mo­ti­vates the be­hav­iour to quench the drive. So, in a sit­u­a­tion when you don’t have self-con­trol, and be­cause it is not easy to get some­one to quench your sex drive im­me­di­ately it arouses, whilst the drive gets high be­yond self-con­trol in the case of some­one with a low self-reg­u­la­tion, the only op­tion is to use mi­nors who are help­less to quench the drive.

“And some­body who has ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing as trau­matic as de­file­ment can have re­cur­rent thoughts be­cause when you are asleep, the mem­ory slows down, so the thought of the trau­matic event can slip into the life mem­ory and the per­son will start see­ing it as a night­mare. Once that hap­pens, the per­son will start iso­lat­ing her­self, stop in­ter­act­ing with men be­cause the per­son will through the con­cept of gen­er­al­iza­tion start think­ing that all men are the same.. Such per­son should be re­ferred to a psy­chi­atric.”

Also, a Pro­fes­sor of Child Psy­chol­ogy, Univer­sity of La­gos, Ibin­abo Agiobu-kem­mer, noted that care­less­ness on the part of the par­ent/guardians and rit­ual pur­poses were also part of the rea­sons for the in­creased de­file­ment.

“Some per­pe­tra­tors de­file girl mi­nors for money-mak­ing rit­u­als. They claim that they find it dif­fi­cult to get vir­gins among older fe­males in to­day’s so­ci­ety as re­quired of them by their herbal­ists. Also, care­less­ness and ir­re­spon­si­ble par­ent­ing on the home front by moth­ers, es­pe­cially in cases of in­cest, is a fac­tor,” she said.

Dou­ble jeop­ardy

In Nige­ria, there are laws pro­mul­gated to curb sexual abuse/de­file­ment, the Ar­ti­cle 16 of the African Char­ter on Rights and Wel­fare of the Child, af­firmed that “Chil­dren should be pro­tected from all forms of tor­ture, in­hu­man or de­grad­ing treat­ments and es­pe­cially phys­i­cal or men­tal in­jury or abuse, ne­glect or mal­treat­ment in­clud­ing sexual abuse. More ac­cu­rately, Ar­ti­cle 27 of the same char­ter, stressed that “Chil­dren should be pro­tected from all forms of sexual ex­ploita­tion and sexual abuse.”

In the Nige­rian con­text, the pro­vi­sions of the Child Right Act 2003 for­bid “un­law­ful sexual in­ter­course with a child, etc,” and also of­fi­cially pro­hibit all “forms of sexual abuse and mo­lesta­tion,” on a child. Also, the Vi­o­lence Against Per­sons (Pro­hi­bi­tion) Act, en­acted by the Na­tional As­sem­bly in 2015, up­holds that a per­son con­victed of rape “is li­able to im­pris­on­ment for life,” among other es­tab­lished laws at the fed­eral level and in var­i­ous states.

How­ever, the ju­di­ciary in Nige­ria is stretched and jus­tice for vic­tims of­ten takes longer to ar­rive. In ad­di­tion to this, there are few ef­fec­tive state­spon­sored bod­ies or pro­grammes that pro­vide sup­port and help for rape vic­tims to han­dle the af­ter­math of rape.

Be­fore Ore­oluwa was res­cued from com­mit­ting sui­cide, Olan­re­waju and his spouse had ded­i­cated time to mon­i­tor her. But when the flash­back of the trauma was neg­a­tively in­flu­enc­ing Ore­oluwa’s be­hav­iour de­spite go­ing for coun­selling, Olan­re­waju said he had to re­lo­cate her to an­other place.

The 37-year-old said, “Ore­oluwa could not sleep. She al­ways watched tele­vi­sion at mid­night be­cause of the flash­back of what hap­pened. I also dis­cov­ered that she had a jot­ter where she wrote all that hap­pened, the re­gret, the stigma; how she now has ha­tred for boys and can never for­give those who de­filed her, and how she could get jus­tice.

“So, I ded­i­cated more time dis­cussing with her to en­cour­age her. But when I re­lo­cated her to an­other area, where she could mix with her mates, her con­di­tion started im­prov­ing.”

As for Chika’s mother, Rita, whose two daugh­ters were de­filed by a flee­ing sus­pect, Kazeem, she said a change of lo­ca­tion was not the best op­tion “be­cause I don’t have money to park out of this en­vi­ron­ment and I could not take them, most es­pe­cially Chika, to an­other place to live be­cause I was ashamed of her con­di­tion and had to hide it from ev­ery­one in­clud­ing her brother.

“But some­how, he got to know and en­sured that Dayo was ar­rested while Kazeem es­caped. Chika is sup­posed to be in school, but now fo­cuses on taking care of her baby. I never planned it to be like this, so, I can’t be happy. Both of them used to think a lot, at times, Chika will be lost in her thought and all of a sud­den, snap out and start curs­ing Dayo and Kazeem. But I have been en­cour­ag­ing her,” the mother of five said dur­ing our correspond­ent’s visit to her house in Bariga.

In a study she con­ducted in 2019, on ‘Child Rape in Nige­ria, Im­pli­ca­tions on the Ed­u­ca­tion of the Child,’ one Maria Agbo stated. “The po­lice de­mand bribes from rape vic­tims in order to in­ves­ti­gate rape cases and give reports, and when the bribes are not given to them, they ac­cuse the rape vic­tims of con­sent­ing to the sexual in­ter­course with the rapists. In some cases, the com­plainant be­comes the ac­cused and vice versa, de­pend­ing on who gives the high­est bribe.”

Chika’s brother, Jude, who usu­ally takes her to the court dur­ing court pro­ceed­ings says the fam­ily’s ex­pe­ri­ence with the po­lice has been neg­a­tive. He ac­cused the in­ves­ti­gat­ing po­lice of­fi­cer of ex­tor­tion.

He said, “De­spite what my sis­ter went through, the in­spec­tor han­dling our case told me that we should bring a lot of money when we were com­ing to court. I gave her N7,000 on our first visit but she has been ask­ing for more money.

“She said the money is for regis­tra­tion, pho­to­copy and to feed the pris­oner, Dayo, as if he is my fam­ily. The an­noy­ing part is that the in­spec­tor is also us­ing the same tac­tics to col­lect money from the de­tainee’s fam­ily.”

• Ezeg­bue • Ko­la­wole • Philip

• Dayo

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