Time to end the rape shame



“…maybe we have in fact given these hormone raging males too much leeway to continue in their despicable acts.”





by Ndidi Ekeh

She was just a little girl when he paid her his first visit.  These are suppressed memories she has buried for a long time.

But the pain resurfaces from time to time and plays back in her head just like the scene from a movie, a very bad thriller, the kind where you know it doesn’t end well for the victim but you have to watch it anyway.  Her real life thriller happened on one of those innocent days when she returned home from school, that day was different though, she had a pretty bad premonition right after meeting her uncle at home so she avoided him and went to her room to hide.

She knew he would come in so she pretended she to be asleep hoping he would go away. Uncle Wole walked into her room and touched her, she pretended to be deep in sleep, but he was persistent to have his way.

Placing his hand on her shoulders, he said: “Common Dotun, I know you’re not sleeping.”

She’d been caught so she faked a yawn, turned around trying to sound disoriented from sleep and there, right beside her in all his glory, Uncle Wole, starkers, in nothing but his birthday suit.  She knew this was wrong, so instinctively, her eye went shot, it was all so confusing, she prayed he would just go away and leave her alone, they could pretend it never happened or that it was a mistake. There was still time to salvage the bizarre situation but he did not move and in what seemed like a like a lifetime he had his way with her. That was the day she lost her virginity. Dotun was only eight years old.

Sexual molestation is a form of abuse in which an older or stronger person uses a weaker or younger person for personal sexual gratification. This abuse comes in different forms, ranging from indecent exposure of genitals to an individual, to viewing of another’s genitalia for the purpose of sexual satisfaction. I remembered an incident that happened a long time ago, where my cousin was almost cajoled into having sex with her neighbour who was a middle-aged man.

While talking to my friends about child molestation, it struck me that amongst the six of us speaking; only one actually suggested the importance of reporting the case. I tried explain the Nigerian factor would stigmatise the victim instead. Using the Abia rape incident for example,  the girls were usually blamed for the sins of their perpetrators.

As I argued blindly, it hit me that maybe we have in fact given these hormone raging males too much leeway to continue in their despicable acts. I mean this is a country where a state governor publicly acclaimed that the rape incident that happened in his state was ‘staged’ by his political enemies to bring shame to his government.

 Nigeria is a country where I can say three out of every five girl have been sexually molested or touched in inappropriate ways as a child. Even boys fall victim too, a few can testify and would openly tell you that their first sexual experience was with the maid.

This is just a tip of the iceberg on the sexual violence that actually operates in our society.  In a good number of cases, these young girls grow up having a lot of psychological issues ranging from low self-esteem, anti social behaviours to anxiety, alcoholism and promiscuity.

  It is now time for civil societies, religious houses, parents and the community at large to rise and put a stop to this disgraceful act.

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