There has been an increase in cases of rape and gang rape in Nigeria, but many go unreported. The few that get reported to the authorities are either not pursued by the police or the victim is advised to keep silent lest she disgrace her immediate and extended family.
Nigeria remains a patriarchal society. Women are assigned roles, and their bodies are treated by men. Any woman who goes against the grain is punished harshly. This punishment can take different forms but the most demoralizing; most intimate; and most brutal against the female person is rape.
The increase, mainly of gang rapes and rapes of girls by thugs, relatives, and neighbors, should rightly become a source of worry to all.
More worrisome is the fact that large numbers of alleged rapists ramble freely on the streets after committing the monstrous act. Similarly worrisome is that the act has now assumed a new dimension whereby victims are sometimes gang raped in broad daylight with crowds hanging around as quiet audience of a scandalous tragedy while victims are stripped and assaulted. More so, the victim is occasionally blamed while little is done on bringing the rapist to book.
According to the law, a victim of rape needs to establish that penetration occurred, corroboration (or validation) of the crime needs to be established, and proof must be provided that consent was not given. The limitations with establishing consent make proving many of the few valid rape cases difficult.
The rape scourge in Nigeria lamentably reflects the extent to which women’s rights are endangered. The shameless manner rape is often committed indicates that perpetrators nonetheless have a stone-age mentality of women as chattels who are to be used without independent minds. It also portrays some as pure lunatics.
Cases of security men especially police officers re-raping rape victims have not lost in our memory either. In 2014, an Amnesty International report indexed rape as one of the methods allegedly being used by the Nigerian Police to extract confession from female suspects. Again, most often, Police officers allegedly ask rape victims ridiculous and hopeless questions.
Very few victims who have been raped in Nigeria report the offense to the police. There are many rationales behind this. Rape results in stigmatization of the victim, resulting in rejection by families and communities, and with police sometimes unwilling to make official reports. Due to this stigma, women and adolescents may be unwilling or unable to obtain a medical examination to substantiate their report of rape. High rates of rape and low reporting underscore the need for precise actions to address sexual violence and to stem the tide.
Remarkable adjustments have to take place in public approach towards rape if we are ready to stem the tide. Steps towards this route encompass public enlightenment and education campaign in addition to institutional support. Other appropriate stakeholders equally develop new techniques in tackling the hazard of rape in our country. The monstrous crime represents a slap on our collective sensibility and as such it must be frontally addressed.