RAPE: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.

Many times, in the event of rape, people are too consumed with who’s responsible or why it happened. Many people never want to speak up. In the wake of rape, last week; some persons who have been rape victims or attempted rape victims decided to share their story. They decided to share for others to learn a thing or two from their story.

FIRST CASE

I was about 3 or 4; funny enough, that’s the only thing I remember as a kid. He used to be my neighbor back then in the barracks, I used to call him ‘uncle’. He always does it, finger me and even put his dick inside of me and he will tell me never to tell my parents if not they are going to be beat me. It stopped when we left that barracks to another one, same thing happened again, different person. I was in primary school then, primary 5 or so; this time I cried but I didn’t know how to tell my mum, but I tried to signal her but she didn’t get. Another time, a man, my neighbors family friend, somehow close to my family; tried molesting me in my J.S.1 (first year of junior high school) but I ran away and I hated him so much. He started calling me his wife.

Few years ago, my year 2 or so in the university, I over heard my mum and her friend saying he has been HIV positive for so long; from my calculations, even before he tried to molest me.

So imagine he had his way, what would have become of me? I once told my best friend but she made fun of it; and when I learnt of it, it broke my heart even more. I tried not to tell anyone about it till my third year in the university.


~ Young female at 3, 7, and 11 years of age

SECOND CASE

I usually don’t want to talk about it because I blame myself for it too. It was a near rape experience! I think I was in junior secondary school and it was Christmas break. We were at the village. Now, the toilet system in my village is quite primitive. Its a general toilet that is built over the river. There were stalls for the adults and the kids just use the open space that lead up to the stalls. I still used the open space. You know things used to be innocent. Kids could just bend down and do their business and nobody cared. I guess I was beginning to bloom or maybe he was just a pervert.

The road to the toilet led past his house, so he knew when I was going there. He’d stay in the stalls and call me. I’d hurry up and run from there. Of course my mum had warned us about these things, what mother hasn’t? If he saw me on the road in the village, he’ll gesture for me to come and I’ll run away. But I guess I was enjoying that I could have the attention of this older man. So one night while playing with my friends, he called me and strolled to the region behind our family house. I didn’t run this time, I followed. He began to talk about how he liked me, how he’d marry me; he began to touch me. I became uncomfortable and I told him I want to go, my friends will be looking for me.

I was about to walk away when he held me and slipped his hand into my vagina and began to lament “****** so you’re not a virgin. Tell me who deflowered you”. I told him, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I had never had sex up until then. He then pushed me onto the heap of sand and was trying to have his way with me. I was already crying, I told him about my hair I’d get sand all over it and they’ll ask me what happened at home. He didn’t stop. It was when someone shouted, “Who is there?”

It was a neighbour’s daughter, a family friend. He stopped, she asked again and I answered that it was me. She asked, “what are you doing there?” I answered, “nothing.” She then said, “if somebody is there there with you talk now oh, so we will know when it happened.” By then, he had let me go and I ran out of there, back to my grand ma’s house. I couldn’t tell anybody, cos I didn’t understand why I went there in the first place. I hated him! I later discovered that he knew my parents.

You know he came to my grandma’s that night to greet them, and ask them if I was home cos he saw me playing outside at night. I was scared that someone would put 2 and 2 together from his mysterious visit.

I saw him recently. My dad called him to help my younger sister get something done in court, the moment I saw him my blood boiled. I told my dad I’d do it for my sister in Port Harcourt. I didn’t want my sister following him. I’ve never told anyone this story it was something best forgotten.

How did this affect your outlook on men? It made me very cautious. I began to think every man that called me had a nasty intention. I became snobbish and rude, but I guess I got over it.

What would you advice any mother? Tell your child what she needs to know. Tell her there are some bad people with bad intentions. Tell her the signs of bad intentions, and tell her not to go into dark places with just anybody she may not be as lucky. Then pray for them cause we can only do so much. There are people who bad things have happened to by no fault of theirs. God is the ultimate protection!


~ Young female at 12 or 13 years of age

THIRD CASE

I was 7, my parents used to travel a lot. That time I was left alone with my dad’s friend, cos my mom’s sister wasn’t available. He took me from my house to his, called 3 other guys over, I was tied to the bed. They took turns playing with me and they would stick their fingers and other objects inside me. After a few days they untied me and made be do dirty things to them.

The following week, they went all in, I would bleed a lot. Whenever I tried to fight, they’d tie me to a chair and flog me with belts; all of them, at the same time. After the second week, I was allowed to leave the room; I couldn’t walk or talk.
One day they all left the house, I crawled my way down to the kitchen and took a knife. I wanted to end it all, But I wasn’t going to go without teaching them a lesson. I crawled back to my room cleaning the trail of blood that poured out from me, I hid it under my pillow and I waited for them. They continued the routine. For days, fear stopped me from doing anything.

Finally, the other 3 guys left, I was left with just him.
He came into the room grinning from ear to ear. I got angry so I reached for the knife we struggled I got cut but I stabbed him, i didn’t wait to see what happened, I ran. Someone found me I couldn’t talk, I was scared. She took me to the hospital, I had to be drugged because I wouldn’t let the doctor touch me. I was finally able to write my mum’s number down. She called, they came back. No one could find them so there wasn’t any need pressing charges.

I was sent to a psychiatric hospital; after a week, I ran away because it wasn’t helping. I resumed school, by God’s grace I was still as bright as ever, so I didn’t have to repeat a class. I couldn’t avoid seeing guys or touching them, it was a mixed school. When ever I had physical contact with a guy I’d mark that spot and when I got to the hostel, I’d scrub that spot till it bled. I used a sponge to do it, So it took a lot of work.

As a parent, what would you do differently? I can’t leave my kids with anyone for that long, except with my sister.

There is a fourth case that also needs to be here, but it would be in the sequel, as it has to be transcribed. I do promise to share.

When most people hear rape, they feel it is something that comes with being threatened with a gun. They feel its something that they would never go through or something that won’t ever come close to them, until it happens to them, their daughter, sister, friend, etc. It is something so heinous that it leaves its victims mentally harmed. Rape is something that needs to be eroded and erased from the society just like racism. But what needs to be done?

Reorientation of the males to always know the meaning of consent. The government should not just create laws, but enforcement of it, and even orientation programs should be set up, to let even a 3 year old child understand the meaning of rape. Parents too should also ensure that they are proactive when it comes to rape. Children should be educated on these things and the need to speak out. Rape requires a huge lot of work! Sadly, it is one that not everybody is interested in.

In Nigeria, there has been stiff laws; but what about enforcement. This year, the son of a governor threatened someone’s mom with rape and it was laid to slide. How much strength is used in the clamping down of rape. What is the church, mosque, schools, government, civil society organisation, etc. doing about it?