A Growing Social Nuisance

Sylvester Ehijire, the accused father
Sylvester Ehijire, the accused father

Ngozi Braide, police public relations officer, Lagos State police command, says rape cases are on the increase because the victims and their parents are unwilling to prosecute offenders in court

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Apr. 8, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

RAPE, an illicit sexual affair with a woman without her consent, has become a major social problem in Nigeria. Almost on a daily basis, the media are inundated with reports of cases of rape. Rape has become a common phenomenon that occurs everywhere in homes, the neighbourhoods, schools, worship centres, among others. It has also become so widespread that people hire others to rape their relatives, neighbours or those they consider to be a thorn in their flesh.

But the most worrisome of it’s all is the danger it poses to the future of the girl-child in the society. The most recent of its all was the startling revelation by Ogun State police on March 25, of how a young man hired two other men to rape his two younger sisters who are 16 and 18 years over sharing of their father’s properties.

Ngozi Braide, Police PRO, Lagos State
Ngozi Braide, Police PRO, Lagos State

Besides, people are still shocked by the revelation of the Lagos State police on March 20, of how Sylvester Ehijire raped her seven-year-old daughter and a year and three months granddaughter in Lagos. The seven-year-old girl revealed how her father had been sleeping with her since she was six. She said her father usually committed the sacrilege whenever her mother was away and always threatened to blind her if she dared to tell her mother. “Every time my mother was not at home, my father would call me, dip his finger into my anus and his manhood inside my virgina. He would then promise to buy me biscuit and toy cars if I did not tell anybody. There is no Sunday that he did not do it,” she said.

Her mother, who confirmed the claim, disclosed that the abominable act became known in 2006 when her first child, now married informed her that her father had been having carnal knowledge of her. “I travelled to Abuja for a catering job because I am a caterer. At about 1 a.m. that fateful day, my daughter called me to say she had just been raped by her father. Then, she was 17 years old. I had to leave the job and travel back to Lagos the next day.  I informed my husband’s parents but all of a sudden, my in-laws turned against me, saying I was lying. This continued until I could no longer bear it. I had to leave the house with my children in 2007. But I came back in 2011, after entreaties by my in-laws. Since then, I did not know he was still doing it until my seven-year-old daughter told me, saying he even threatened to blind her if she opened up to anyone,” she said, adding that the height of the abominable act happened on March 20, when the husband raped their one year and three months granddaughter.

This is just one out of the many rape cases that happen in Nigeria on a daily basis. Experts have raised an alarm on the danger which raping children portends in the society. Aliu Damilola, a clinical psychologist with the federal neuro-psychiatric hospital, Lagos, said that children are mainly the target of rape today because they are naïve and can’t protect themselves as well.

“Aside the punishment given to anybody that rapes a child or an adult, parents have a big work to do. Parents should take time to study their children, examine them up regularly and create an enabling environment that would enable them to report any one they suspect around them. We should not wait for something to happen before reporting it. And for the adult ladies, they should try and dress decently to avoid harassment,” she said.

Aliu Damilola, clinical Psychologist
Aliu Damilola, clinical Psychologist

According to Damilola, children who suffer constant rape or sexual abuse either by their relatives, neighbours or someone older than them may end up having some psychological symptoms like post-traumatic stress disorder and rape trauma syndrome which is always characterised by symptoms like withdrawal, anxiety and constant nightmares in adulthood. These, she said, are all manifest symptoms of rape tendencies.

Meanwhile, Ngozi Braide, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, said the unwillingness of some rape victims and their parents to prosecute the case is responsible for the increase of the crime in Nigeria. “As long as rape victims and their parents refuse to show interest in prosecuting the case, the offenders will go scot-free and more of such crimes will happen. The victims of rape or defilement are the main witnesses the police need to send the offenders to prison. The case is a serious offence under the Nigerian law. An offender could be sentenced to life imprisonment if found guilty. We have many people who should be behind bars for violent crimes against women, but because the people concerned are not willing to come forward to assist the police in prosecution, they are walking freely and even committing more of such crimes,” Braide said.

Braide then called on parents, particularly women, to show concern and stand behind their wards to prosecute rape offenders, stressing that if the crime remained unchallenged, there would be the possibility of its increase. She said that about four cases of rape and defilement by some men against their daughters were recorded since she assumed duty in Lagos command in the last nine months, and nobody had been prosecuted.

“Parents should know that they are not helping their children by accepting to settle out of court. They are killing the future of such children. You cannot quantify the pains encountered by the victims with monetary settlement. My advice for women is that they should rise up to fight any form of abuse against women, particularly rape and defilement. The victims and the minors cannot help themselves; their parents must therefore stand for them. The police are willing to prosecute any case if those with useful information about the case would be willing to come forward with evidence.”

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