Sexual Violence and Nigerian Women: Breaking the Silence

by Bayo Olupohunda

The day had ended as usual for this beautiful and richly endowed middle level female banker who resides in the fast developing Lekki axis of Lagos. As a routine on that rainy day in August, she had cleared her table having worked late into the evening. Taking a look at her wrist-watch she had hurriedly dashed across the road to hail a taxi. This was after she had received a call from her mechanic that her car would not be ready until the next day. This tall beautiful lady who God had created on a Sunday, according to her friends, had just been transferred to the new branch of her bank on the Lekki-Epe Express Way and her joy had known no bounds having worked with the Mainland branch of the same bank until her transfer early this year. It had always been a harrowing experience commuting from her Lekki home to the Mainland.

As she waited apprehensively for a taxi and with the rain threatening, she quickly hailed an unmarked cab popularly called ‘kabukabu’ by Lagosians and soon after, her ordeal began. As the car headed towards the Lekki-Ajah Expressway, the driver waited to pick another male passenger and so the journey that marked a turning point in her life was about unfold. In ten minutes, the unmarked cab had reached the Ajah bus top and the lady banker announced her intention to alight from the cab but instead of the driver to ease up on the accelerator her pressed down hard at it and soon they were headed to the Epe end of the Expressway. The loud protestations of the lady was drowned in the continuous droning of the rain and with the windows wound up, her hope of being heard and saved by passers-by became dimmed. Soon the car veered of into a dirt path off the Expressway. As the cab grounded to halt, she was quickly bounded into a makeshift wooden shack where she was severely ganged raped by a group of men two of them already lying in waiting in their hideout. She was forced against her will to spend the entire night with them while they took turns to have her and only dropped her off the Expressway the next morning. How sad!

But this is no fiction. Everyday we are inundated with bizarre tales of the absurd from newspaper reports of the abuse of women in our society. Even though we are not in a state of war, Nigerian women, girls and babies are daily subjected to one form of bestiality or the other by deranged and psychopathic men who do not have a place in a civilized world. Worst still, the Nigerian society through the inactiveness of the justice system seems to be in support of this crudeness against our future mothers. As long as our justice system fails to bring to book perpetuators of this evil acts against the women folk for as much will they continue to get away with their evil deeds.

What sort of society will tolerate this level of injustice against women? There will always will be criminals in any society no matter how advanced. But what distinguishes a country with a functioning law and other against the Hobessian State where life is short and brutish is the ability and capacity of law enforcement to prosecute offenders. Much worse is the crime of rape and criminal defilement of minors and three months old babies by middle aged men! It is the height of criminality for these men to get away with their crime. For me it worse than war crime. It is a sin against humanity for anybody to be forced against her will in matters of sexuality.

In one of the incident reported recently in a national daily and to be honest I have lost count of reports of fifty ‘something’ years old men defiling three months old babies. In this particular report, a five year old girl was defiled by a fifty six year old man somewhere in Niger State haven cajoled the unfortunate girl with a biscuit! In Lagos, the office of the Public Defender caused a fifty five years old man to be prosecuted and jailed for two years for defiling a five years old girl of her neighbour.

On a daily basis we are confronted with gory details of rape, criminal defilement and cases of deranged husbands either beheading their wives or slashing their wives’ throat. For what offence will a wife commit to warrant being sent to the great beyond? Some of the offences range from the bizarre to absurd. You will be surprised to hear of cases of unsubstantiated adultery, failure to serve food on time and the mundane. What is our society turning into? Why can’t we protect our babies, daughters, nieces, sisters, aunts and our future mothers?

The numbers of cases of crimes against women are daily increasing. It will be hard to pick a newspaper these days without a case of rape and forceful sexual engagement with a girl or a woman. Why are we keeping quite? The sad irony is that it can happen to anybody. It is not a class thing any more and it depends on luck and illuck. If a woman, no matter her class, is unfortunate to be caught in the wrong side of town or situation, only God can save her.

During the height of the political crises than rocked Lagos during the build up to the April 2007 elections, so many women were ganged raped by area boys and thugs. At the Ajah end of the city, where the crises was most intense, women were forcefully dragged and raped by thugs and area boys. I am talking of working young ladies returning from work and unfortunate enough to run into the street urchins. The Ajah area was like a war zone. Cries of women being dragged and raped were a daily occurrence. The sad part is that these things happen under the nose of law enforcement agents who turn a blind eye to this criminality. Women who are unfortunate to close late at night are the worst hit. Since the streets are dark wih all the steet lamps off, they naturally walk into the waiting hands of their rapists.

What is our society turning into? Raping of women has become the order of the day. It is now fashionable for bands of men to walk or drive round this city looking for women to rape. It has become a vocation and soon turning into a full time profession. You bet no one is safe from their clutches. Our society through our law enforcement agent must set up the mechanism for nipping these ugly incidents in the bud.

This piece cannot detail some of the worst crimes being committed against women in our society for these have been duly recorded and are being reported by newspapers, television and radios. Sometime ago, a man coming home and meeting no food on his table was reported to have beaten her wife into a state of coma! My God! She later lost her life in a private hospital. How can a man be so wicked to kill a human being how much less his own blood? Is your wife not your own blood and your better half? Are these men mad? Fathers should watch the kind of men they give their daughters hand in marriage. Proper investigation should be conducted before you allow your daughter to marry. Fathers should check if would-be suitors have a history of mental or psychiatric problems in their family. Because how would you explain a situation in which a man would beat his wife to death because his food was not ready on time? In the report, neighbours attested to the virtuousness of the woman in question and that the man ignored the pleading of his wife that she was held up in traffic to which her daughter corroborated. The incidence of wife battering has been with us and is on the increase. Wife battering cuts across social divides-from the captains of industry, top level managers and the lowly labourers; it is one of the many crimes against the women folks.

But we as a people must at once begin to find an enduring solution to this malaise that is threatening the future of our nation. Our women and mothers represent this future. A society that cannot protect her women is a dangerous one. A society where women and girls cannot move freely without being stalked by serial rapists disguised as area boys, and street urchins is indeed an unsafe society. A society where law enforcement agent cannot protect women, what kind of society is that? We are not in a state of war. Or are we in state of war? The cases of criminal crimes against our women are on the increase and this is indeed sad.

I propose a revisiting of the existing laws on rape, criminal defilement of minors, women battering and worst of all the domestic killing of women and daughters. We cannot continue like this? The lives of our future mothers are at risk. On daily basis when they are defiled or raped, the risk of being infected with the deadly HIV/AIDS and STDs is real. And as a matter of fact, these women victim do get infected by their rapists. How about the physical trauma that haunts the victim for the rest of her life? Women and young girls gets defiled and raped by their biological fathers, uncles and drivers. They in turn get disillusioned and hate the society in which they live. They are scarred for life.

The greatest hindrance to prosecution of offenders is that victims do not often come up to report the incidence of rape. Many women are too ashamed to do so for fear being stigmatized. So the criminal walks away freely and goes to commit more heinous crimes. Women groups should double their effort by using advocacy and creating awareness to drum up support for the prevention of this crime against humanity. Our law enforcement agencies should bring all cases of rape to prosecution and the existing laws should be revisited to punish offenders with maximum sentence. The full weight of the law should be brought to bear on all offenders.

We must all speak up against the crime of rape and defilement. Keeping silent is dangerous because it can happen to anybody. Next time, it may be your sister, niece, daughter or mother that may be an unlucky victim. For this writer, the violence that heralded the April elections was a harrowing one. For the whole months that the violence lasted, I had had to keep a daily vigil at the Ajah bustop in Lekki area of Lagos to welcome my wife home from work everyday to prevent anything untoward from happening to her from the rapists hiding under the guise of street urchins and area boys that wrecked havoc on women and property in the area. For some women, their stories remain their best kept secrets.

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1 comment September 25, 2007 - 6:06 am

I read your article and i will be honest with you. this situation dosen,t surprise me at all. As we approach a time in history where people are driven by there sexual desires. What do you expect? sex is every where and peole in Asia and in Africa and America even Great Britain have no respect for the life of a child. there have been moe murders and sexual abuse of these minors at a higher level. Mankind has not even undesrstood that you should not violate a child. Not sexually! there are certain laws in Leviticus in the bible that tells us how to conduct ourselves sexually. But as we see the bible scriptures are describe the current state of mankind. If you read 2Timothy 3 you will see that but know tihs that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here.for men will be lovers of money , self-assuming , haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents,unthankful,disloyal,( having no natural affection ) the natural affection that people normally have cause them not to hurt children women ect.., or even to have sex with there own kids. Also the bible says that these people have no self control , fierce without the love of goodness. they don,t even realize that mankind should be able to control his sexuality. I told my friend that we live in a time where these people dont have respect for the life of anyone let alone someone else.s body. the bible also says that they are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of god. it brings them pleasure to have sex with children. and it will get worse. I look forward to the time when JEHOVAH destroys these wicked people dont you? Just like the days of Noah and Lot mankind has become wicked in there sin andI encourage you to get to know Jehovah before its to late? You have o good heart and it seems that form the way you wrote this article that you care. So realize that it is what it is.Thw wicked people have a short time. they will be destroyed my friend.And i will be extremly happy.


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