By Murjanatu Alkali
Many females fall victims of rape and pedophilia these days in Nigeria more than ever before, this is not because they are sexually attractive as there are cases of sexual assault on children below the age of 10 who have not approached puberty.
Pedophilia is an act of wickedness in the name of being sexually attracted to children who are yet to attain puberty while rape is having sexual intercourse with someone directly or indirectly without the person’s consent and approval.
These acts cause both mental and physical trauma to the victims ranging from contacting sexually transmitted infections like AIDS, Syphilis and Gonorrhea to death. Most victims after survival find it difficult to continue their education or pursuits of life do to stigma and discrimination.
The stigma of being raped can make survivors feel as if they are being raped everyday again. The stigma is so ingrained in people that they don’t even realize that their comments and reactions humiliate sexually assaulted victims.
Bethany Rivett, a rape survivor who shared her experience said “When I told people I had been raped, I was faced with reactions of utter discomfort. Some people were scared to discuss it, some didn’t make eye contact while others said the necessary things in order to move on and change the conversation.”
People do not realize how they make a victim of rape feel, but that their reactions gave rise to strong feelings of shame and embarrassment. Even friends and family made comments that implies a victim could share some blame for the rape. “The questions they asked were as if the victim was the one at fault. What time of the day was it? What was she wearing? Was she alone? Was she drunk?”
But, come to think of it, NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING JUSTIFIES RAPE! Not her mode of dressing, nor if she’s drunk or alone. Today, even babies are not safe from sexual molestation. Is it because they dress in alluring outfits? Or were they drunk? Sexy?
A Rape victim should be supported and encouraged not the other way rounds. The trauma is real and takes a lot of efforts to deal with.The pain, the anguish, the fear, the phobia. And then, comes the societal stigma. Have you ever thought about how a rape victim feels?
The society always criticize what happens, the society always talks, the society shuns, the society makes you a subject of ridicule. People point fingers at you, others run when you sit close to them. To find a husband is another case for in this era we live, no one will really believe you were raped and you end up at the receiving end accepting the blames for everything. With the phobia and pain increasing with each passing day, if care is not taken, depression comes in and then destroy the Soul.
In 2012 alone, 24,923 rape cases were recorded in India, making it one of the countries with highest rape cases. It is a place where sexual assault is rapidly increasing. In the United States itself, a statistic has it that, 1 out of 6 women and 1 out of 33 men experienced an attempted or complete rape in their life time. South Africa also is one of the countries with the most rape cases with 65,000 cases in 2012. Nigeria is also among such counties with no definite statistics in 2012 however, a statistics has it that 1 out 4 girls has experienced a form of sexual harassment before 18. Even infants of months old are not safe in Nigeria.
The pain and agony rape victims go through can only be understood by victims like them. We only criticize and point fingers at them without knowing how they feel, how bad we are affecting them and how worse we make the situation for them. Its time we help stand up for them, it’s time we join our hands and help fight for them, it’s time we buckle up and be their voices! For we keeping quite and pointing fingers at them does nothing except adding salt to the wound.
We can be the voice of the voiceless, voice of the oppressed and we can help fight for their rights, share in their pain or help in anyway possible.
Sexual violence is a serious problem that can have lasting, harmful effects on victims and their family, friends, and communities. The goal of sexual violence prevention is to stop it from happening in the first place. The solutions are just as complex as the problem.
Preventing sexual violence requires addressing factors at all levels of the social ecology, the societal, individual, relational, community, and societal levels.
This can be done by; one, promoting social norms that protect against sexual violence, bystander approaches and sensitising men and boys against it.
Two, teaching skills to prevent sexual violence, when women and girls were taught how to engage in physical combats, this will help them protect themselves when approached. I laud the first lady of Ondo state for making this move.
Social-emotional learning and teaching healthy, safe dating and intimate relationship skills to adolescents to promote sexual health.
Three, empowerment-based training, when women are empowered and self reliant, it lessen their chances of falling victims of sexual assault while attempting to make ends meet.
Government and civil society organisations related to this should provide opportunities that will empower and support young girls and women this will also raise our national, international and domestic economic status.
Five, creating protective environments and special courts will improve safety and respect for laws in the society.
Six, Establishing and consistently applying workplace policies and addressing community-level risks through environmental approaches.
Seven, support and victim-centered services for victims and survivors of rape and other sexually assaulted to lessen harms. Prevention for at-risk children and families to prevent problem behavior including sex offending.
There’s need to tell ourselves that educating the girl child is the strongest weapon against intimate partner rape, when a girl is educated, she knows where and how to take action against such acts. An educated girl is always a monster to pedophiles and rapists. Together We Can End Rape And Pedophilia.
Murjanatu Alkali, Sociology Department, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto.