Taoheed Agbolagade Adegbite is a United Nations For Population Activities (UNFPA) Youth Advicate in Sokoto.
In this interview with DPH NEWS, Adegbite speaks on the fight against rape and how rape victims should be treated in the society.
Define rape in a way that captures all what it entails.
_Rape, to me personally, is any forceful sexual acts with an opposite sex, regardless of marital status, age or gender – without consent, or consent given under duress._
Do you think Nigeria has been doing well in the fight against rape?
_If I would be using the existence of laws against rape as yardstick, there is tendency for me to say YES, though partially. But should there be any need to ponder on a very low numbers of rape convicts in Nigeria, despite how endemic rape is – there is much inclination to rather resolve to a ‘NO’ answer. That is: many of our laws that ought to have helped curtail this evil acts are rendered toothless bulldog, perhaps due to the rots in the judicial process. Reoccurrence of rape is because our judicial system still shielding the rapists. I think that’s why it’s essential for VAPP acts to be fully passed at all states of the federation, to work and walk all-out against this inhumane act, perhaps with severe punishment, if not a gravest gravity._
Nigeria still battles with the culture of silence among rape victims. How can this be curbed?
_To address culture of silence, we firstly need to address how our laws are silenced. The fading, if not faded trust in the system. Victims of rape can only be encouraged to speak up when seeking remedy in law court starts to be productive, and justice is duly meted on offenders._
_With this, the societal parts is quite a miniature – seeing rape victim as agent of provocateur in their own ordeals would in no time disappear into a thin air in the face of potent laws, and patent judicial process._
Most cases of rape coming in recent years are either of father raping his biological daughter or adults raping minors. What could have been the cause and
how can the Nigerian society work in addressing such issue?
_Raping minors is also referred to as pedophilia, which bothers on sexual attraction for children – that could have a colouration of psychological issues, in some cases – if properly digged into. But aside from this, it’s pertinent to note most aftermath of domestic violence – as causative factor to be considered for pedophilia. Lack of proper or parental care can make young girls vulnerable to such attacks._
_Domestic violence are better curtailed – because marriage separation, which comes in some cases as its aftermath, can be a bad influence on a randy father._
_First, I would advise as we strengthen the talks or advocacy against sexual and gender-based violence, or specifically, domestic violence – and being proactive against its proliferations – we also need to lay more emphasis on the magnitude of comprehensive sexuality education for children. This would surely minimise the vulnerability and of course, give them the courage to raise alarm whenever they are, perhaps being eyed sexually._
_It’s also important never to forget the roles of laws, to get rid of pedophilia. So I think state like Ekiti deserves our accolades, having put forth a giant stride against this evil, through ‘Naming and Shaming’ of rapist, pedophile not excluded. Other states can do so. Meanwhile, domestication of ChildRights acts is also there – in states where it hasn’t been domesticated, and would also go a long way._
How should rape victims be treated in the society?
_Our society is most time seen as a fault line between rapists and the rape victims. Victims of rape deserve our care and not to be seen as agent of provocateur in their own ordeals. Unargubly, stigmatization fuels culture of silence, and not speaking up of victims encourage rapists the more._
_Existence of different societal myths or notions dictate how rape victims are treated. Instead, victims should not be left in forlorn, to suffer in silence, rather welcome with open arms for rehabilitation and reintegration – and towards ensuring a duly dispensed justice in law court._