The history of Rape almost equaled the history of man’s creation. Multiple Records of the first recorded incidence of rape in the Bible was also in the Book of Genesis.
Unarguably, biblically, rape was a constant feature among men and at a point it was taken as a thing of shame not on the victim but on the family of the master of the person raped.
In Nigeria, the offence of rape is a heinous offence and the drafters of the Criminal Code created window for life imprisonment upon conviction.
Culturally, it is an offence which stands on the same pedestal with the offence of murder since a suspect accused of rape is expected to go into hiding while his people make efforts to cleanse the shame on the face of the family of the rape victim.
Despite all these, the offence of rape in Nigeria seems to be on the increase and the question on every lip is, what is the cause?
Does it mean that the punishment stipulated for it in the extant laws is no longer heavy enough to deter would-be rapist or are there factors which ostensibly offer more incentives for rape than the risk of its punishment?
It goes without saying therefore, that if the offence of rape will be on the increase instead of on the decline, certainly the legal system in Nigeria is not doing what it is expected to do.
It has become habitual that anytime we Tune on our information sets the trend is unknown behavioural news breaking faster than the speed of a triggered bullets piercing the targeted objects.
Everyday greater percentages of women live in abject fears of anticipated attacks from either sexual harrassment, abuse or rape of some sorts perpetrated by some losed men who can bearly control their sexual urges.
For Sexual immorality, the age variance is no longer tied to below thirty years but grandfathers have also been mentioned in the forbidden act.
The reoccurring decimal of the scourge is tearing apart the originality of the Societal decodence and everyone seems to be looking for permanent ways to abate it.
The Society needs to be awake to it responsibility beyond those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of protecting life and property since they have either become overwhelmed or subjected to act the script of their paymasters.
Despite ascribing rapes as a violation of the most demeaning kind that produces fear to many victims for life, it prevalence in the country is no more a surprise because those saddled with the responsibility of providing protective measures have obviously created a society that permits the seemingly strong to seek ways to exhibit their superiority over ‘weaker’ people.
Therefore, rape may become a more blatant manifestation of a deepened deviation from our social mental factors governing a situation or activity.
Rapes have become a rising culture in our restive Society breaking fabrics of gate locks.
It is however permissive saying that, when positive means of personal identification and legitimate expression are suppressed, the devil is empowered.
The simple truth is that, no sane society should condone rape which regrettably, is fast becoming a social epidemic, with children now successive victims of the growing bestiality.
Over the years, we have seen pathetic sights in hospitals of some minors whose urinary and rectal passages have been ruptured so that they are uncontrollably leaking urine and faeces.
Although surgical operation may repair such injuries, then, most mothers whose daughters are victims cannot afford such health interventions.
By so doing, many homes are left with several vulnerable underage girls who are permanently damaged for life.
In the aftermath of a sexual assault or rape, survivors can face extremely difficult and painful emotions and experiences with every survivor responding to traumatic events in their own way.
The effects of the trauma can be short-term or last long after the sexual assault or rape.
The unpleasant death of a University of Benin female undergraduate, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, has renewed the several calls to ward off all attempts allowing the menace to continue to perforate the halo values.
Seemly the assault has brought to limelight, once again, the issue of gender-based violence in the country.
However, Groups have assembled across the country to protest unanimously against the ‘allienic’ crusher seen as worst than the pandemic spread of Covid-19 in recent times.
In the time past, angry Nigerians have taking to the street demonstrating their frustrations why successive Governments have maintained a mute in openly prosecuting offenders with higher penalties to stermoff it occurrence.
Another organized number of protesters on Friday stormed the Nigeria Police Headquarters in Abuja, police commands in Lagos, Ibadan, Jigawa and Edo states, where the rising spate of rape, sexual violence, assault against women and incest in the country have become predominant.
Key in their agreements and demands was the declaration of state-of-emergency on gender-based violence in the country.
Domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and Child Rights Act in all states of the federation.
“Establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centers (SARC) in every state, backed with a coordinated, sustainably-funded support system”.
“Criminalisation and prompt state-led prosecution of SGBV cases within, regardless of requests or interference by the victim’s family or interested parties; Implementation of functional Family Support Units and Force Gender Units at the state level that are well equipped to address SGBV cases”.
“The imposition of public disciplinary measures against officials of the Nigeria Police and state Prosecutors that mishandle cases of SGBV”.
The protesters who demanded justice for the rape and killing of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, Bello Barakat and other victims in the country, called on the police and other security agencies to devise effective strategies to checkmate the rising cases of sexual assault in Nigeria.
Such acts of sex-related violence are not only perceived as barbaric but criminal, as the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said during the week while highlighting the case where 14 men allegedly gang-raped a 12-year-old girl in Jigawa State.
In Edo State, Government has assured the parents, relatives and friends of late Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, as well as the student community in the State of thorough investigation to unravel the circumstances that led to the death of the 100 level student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN).
In a recent call by the Commissioner for Social Development and Gender Issues, Hon. Maria Edeko, gave the assurance when she addressed protesting students, who stormed Government House, Benin City, to register their displeasure over the gruesome murder of the undergraduate.
She assured that the Police has been mandated to fish out, arrest and prosecute the masterminds of the heinous crime.
She said the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration is resolute in ensuring the perpetrators of the crime are made to face the full weight of the law,
She noted that the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law has been domesticated in the state to deal with such crimes.
According to her, “On behalf of the governor, I express deep pain over this incident. We are saddened over the matter because the deceased represents the old and the young. In this age and time when so many persons do not even think about studying, Vera Uwaila went to the church to read.
Her death is disheartening, more so that the heinous crime was committed in a sacred place of worship.”
Edeko added that an Edo State Government delegation has visited the family of the deceased student to
commiserate with them and extend the governor’s deepest condolences.
Spokesperson for the protesters, Stephen Uzochukwu, urged the state government and other relevant stakeholders to ensure justice is served for late Vera Uwaila Omozuwa and other persons who are victims of rape and violence.
Sex crimes have attracted national attention over the past weeks after the high-profile rape and murder of Uwaila Omozuwa, a 22-year-old first year student of the University of Benin.
The Jigawa State Police Command also announced the arrest of 11 men who had, at different times and on many occasions, allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl.
This was then followed by the rape and murder of Barakat Bello, 18, at the home she shared with her family on Monday, June 1.
Many Nigerians have called for stiffer penalties for rapists, as well as the faithful implementation of current laws
In a dramatic session in the lower chambers of the national Assembly, A majority of the members of the House voted against another member’s recommendation to castrate rapists.
James Faleke, representative of Ikeja Federal Constituency, Lagos, made the recommendation during plenary on Thursday, June 4, 2020. The recommendation comes on the heels of strings of vicious sex crimes that have attracted national attention over the past weeks.
Rotimi Agunsoye, representative of Kosofe Federal Constituency, Lagos, raised a motion of urgent public importance on the need to condemn the rising cases of sexual violence and other social vices against women, including police brutality.
However, The Senate has also initiated moves to actualise capital punishment for persons convicted for rape.
At its plenary recently, the Senate said that the need for stiffer penalties including death sentence for anyone convicted of rape-related offences, was imperative.
The senators warned that the rising cases of rape of minors and infants must be taken seriously by the federal government with majority of them canvassing death sentence.
They argued that stiffer penalties on rapists of minors and infants in Nigeria would help curb the menace.
The Senate came to the position following a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River North), entitled “Rising incidences of rape of minors.”
After considering the motion, the Senate directed its committees on Judiciary, Police Affairs, Women Affairs and Social Development, when constituted to interface with the relevant stakeholders in order to evolve ways to enhance the enforcement and implementation of all legislations and policies aimed at protecting minors from rapists and other forms of violence.
The Upper House also directed the aforementioned committees to review the relevant legislations with a view to providing stiffer penalties against sexual abuse on infants and minors in the country.
The offence of rape in Nigeria was an isolated incident. It occurred once in a while and when it did it was greeted with incredulity and surprise.
However, despite the fact that the offence carries a life term imprisonment, it has now become a daily occurrence in Nigeria.
It seems that the law as it is, is incapable of deterring the naked and raw urge to subdue and abuse a woman.
There exists a conspiracy of silence whenever the offence of rape is committed.
It is this conspiracy of silence in relation to rape that all must seek to unravel with a view to pointing out the areas where the law appears to be encouraging the offence.
The criminal justice system encourages the crime of rape in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, the fear of stigma (or persecution) discourages victims of sexual violence from formalising the reports of incidents involving them.
Many of the policy briefs of the National Crime and Safety Survey have always depicted how prevalent sexual violence is, as well as the fact that our society seems to be living in denial about this crime.
The conclusion is that victims of rape hardly lodge reports for fear that their cases would not be treated seriously, that they would be stigmatised or that corruption would hinder effective investigation.
To fight the menace, a point of safe, protective and comforting recourse must exist for victims of sexual violence to address their immediate needs as well as to enable them summon the courage to pursue the ends of justice. While diligent prosecution and swift and exemplary sanctions would certainly send a strong signal to the perpetrators to desist, the media remains a necessary partner in sustained efforts to curb these wanton acts of evil.
While human rights violations of this nature occur everywhere in the world, as the sick, the evil and the deranged exist in all societies, the only manner in which citizens can feel safe and secure is where the response to crime is swift, efficient and effective.
That is what the current situation demands from the relevant authorities. We must all be ready to stand up to fight this menace which violates the dignity of minors and women.
It is therefore important a need for the review of the law on rape in Nigeria to expand the definition and make it an offence for both sexes.
Moreso, the process of the trial of a rape offence should be reviewed. The State should make provisions for the victims of rape and provide counselors for them.
Hospitals especially general hospitals may be designated as rape test centers and the employment of nurses or other health care providers to render assistance.
Furthermore the state should set up special courts to try offences of rape and where possible in camera to protect the virtues or dignity of the victim.
Prosecution for the offence of rape should be wholly state sponsored and the victim should remain what she is in law and that is a witness.
It is my thinking that if these measures are adopted, the rising incidents of rape
may be reduced.