Something happens when a woman is raped. Her entire life literally comes to a close. I have met a couple of rape victims and read many books around people who have had their lives messed up by someone whose brain is wrapped around his genitals. I am as enraged as all my compatriots who are truly mad about the recent rape case trending around the globe.
Again, Nigeria with some of the most brilliant minds in the world, has gifted the world with ammunition for bad press and a rap for bad people because some mindless boys not only took a young girl’s dignity but also took her life in Benin. As has been reported, Uwa, 22-year-old student of Microbiology at the University of Benin, was gang raped by four men and then beaten badly with a fire extinguisher. She died from her injuries. As the news made the rounds across the world, I ask myself what will become of the case as it is evident in the Nigerian justice and security apparatchik that rape is not seen as a serious crime.
Until the punishment fits the crime, the crime of rape will continue to rise as perpetrators often get off the hook or with light sentences leaving the victims to their now terrible lives. We all should be collectively ashamed. Mothers who arrange girls for their sons and then turn around to ask why they are wayward. Rich families who think everything can be bought with money and fathers who abscond from their roles, thereby, unleashing poorly socialised boys on the society. We must not forget places where women have been reduced to goods and services, places they ought to feel safe, schools, churches and even their homes.
The laws addressing rape in the country needs to be reviewed. If our future mothers are broken psychologically, we have lost our nation. It is time for action. I have lined up books that have focused on rape to help us make sense of this tragedy.
1. I am starting with Gabrielle Union’s book, We Are Going To Need More Wine, where she tells the tragic story of how she was raped while working at a supermarket as a young girl. This true story coming from a much loved American actress sets us thinking about how no woman is immune. Union explained in her book that this made her unable to settle down for years and led her to become uncaring about relationships and led her to becoming promiscuous at the time so she could just to deaden the pain. Many women have been known to commit suicide after rape and trust me if you do not teach your so manners and if those responsible for helping to protect our girls and women don’t. Watch out, it could be your daughter tomorrow.
2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. The protagonist in the story Melinda is raped by an upper class man. When she calls the cops, her friends misunderstand her and cannot get her. They in fact reject her and made her an outcast. This often happens in rape situations where the re-victimization of the victim begins. No one believes her including the authorities and law enforcement who begin to interrogate her in a manner that suggests that she committed a crime letting the perpetrators off lightly. In the case of Melinda, she found succour in her art which was very cathartic for her and enabled her to speak up. Silence is not an option because it only amplifies the emotional wreckage for the rape victim.
3. An untamed state by Roxane Gray. This book tells the heart wrenching story of a girl abducted in front of her Father’s house in Port Au Prince and abused. A review of this book has described it as the way in which men treat women in patriarchal system as if they are a piece of wood or like goats. In fact, it is felt that the women should be treated like human beings is alien to the world. Many stories are told of families and victims of rape that when police arrive at a rape scene, they often handle with levity. This needs to change. This rape culture, we are all becoming complicit in Nigeria and urgency to address the matter by all stakeholders is what is needed.
4. Room by Emma Donaghue is a story told from the eyes of a 5-year-old boy named Jack. His mother is the victim of rape and every time her rapist comes to visit, his mother locks him in a wardrobe. Tragic, Tragic! We are having a rash of rape cases in Nigeria now and together with other challenges. This is how Nations are destroyed at societal levels by members of the community. We need to stand up and protect our children. Indeed, this is a national emergency. As we go to press with this, I hear of a 12-year-old molested in Jigawa state. Prosecution! Prosecution!
5. Finally, I present the book, The Female of the species by Minding Mcginns. This book pretty much tells the story of women’s fear of ageing. We equate ageing with unattractiveness and women continue to play in the patriarchal game of pretty being the price to pay to keep existing. There is a lot to be done to disabuse the minds of young girl from believing they exist only for men to take advantage. In an article I wrote in 2012 for Buisnessday newspaper, I wondered if castration will be a good punishment for rapists albeit illegal. I am just so angry.