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Fighting the rape epidemic in a pandemic

“Am sorry Mummy but he said he was going to kill me if I tell anyone”. That was Gift, a 9-year- old girl who was repeatedly raped by the son of her mother’s friend who had come to live with them. Gift was lucky to have come out alive to tell her story but girls like little Khadijat, Omozuwa, Barakat Bello and many others could not live to tell their stories.

What a wicked world! The rape of a lady is not just the abuse of her body and sexuality; it is the abuse of her mind and spirit which halts her mindset, poisons her soul and alters her future. For some victims, it is the complete lockdown of their existence and shutdown of glorious ambitions which eventually drives them to a premature end.

Recently, rape has been rampant and it is gradually becoming an everyday phenomenon which has resulted to an epidemic we must collectively fight. Rape is a heinous crime that every culture and society frowns at. Some countries like Cuba and Saudi Arabia even equate it to murder and the same punishment meted to the culprits.

Many rape cases are facilitated by drugs, alcohol and other substances and the victims can be incapacitated and thus unable to consent because of ingestion of drugs or alcohol. Rape victims suffer physical and mental trauma which may include humiliation, embarrassment and stigmatization which sometimes lead to depression and eventual death.

It is very unfortunate that rape has become the order of the day and most of the culprits are still walking as free men on the streets. Our daughters are no longer safe at home just like the case of Barakat; they are not safe at places of worship just like the case of Omozuwa and they are not safe to walk freely on the streets just like the case of Khadijat. According to the FBI Director Robert Mueller, rape is the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. In essence, this definition posits that both sexes can be at the risk of being raped though the female is more vulnerable, especially the minors.

The entire human race needs a place they can call a safe haven and this can only be gotten through our collective efforts. Our government must rise up to our defence by also equating the punishment for rape to that of murder like that of other countries. The law enforcement agents have the responsibility to bring every perpetrator to book no matter their position or how influential the person might be. The society also has to stop stigmatizing the victims as this might prevent so many of them from speaking out. Parents have the greater responsibility of protecting their children by encouraging them to speak out and most importantly, to be careful and watchful. Let’s report any suspicious person or actions, especially in this lockdown.

Deborah Phillips wrote on from BUK, Kano

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