This is one of the hardest posts I have hard to write. I could not bring myself to watch the video clip I received from Olamild Entertainment regarding a crime of rape committed against a young University girl in Abia State. I read the story on Linda Ikeji’s blog but writing about it was tough! It was just so tough to do. Linda Ikeji actually watched the video and gives her eyewitness report seen on the video of the heinous crime committed against this young woman.
In the video clip, according to what Ikeji observed, in essence, a female college student was raped by five men. The rape lasted for one hour. She resisted, begged, pleaded, yet they carried on. She screamed in anguish, yet they carried on. Pacified and weakened of any strength as every violent thrust seemed to bring her to what appeared to be a painful death, she begged they just kill her, for in death, she can at least be free from the pain, yet they carried on. She tried to negotiate and make amends of any wrongdoing she might have done. Still they carried on. They laughed at her, assaulted, slapped and battered her. They subdued her and threatened to keep her longer if she did not oblige. It was disheartening to read.
This post was extremely hard for me because over and over again, I have been confronted with this fact: “Uduak when will it be time to tell the world that you were raped?”
For over two decades I walked around with a deep “dirty” secret. It was a secret me, myself and the man who raped me at roughly 10years old in Nigeria knew.He entered my life and left as quickly as he came yet I knew he knew that what he did was wrong.I felt so ashamed and very much that it was my fault so I bottled the trauma neatly and stored it in a deep dark dungeon never to be revisited again.
Stigma and shame is a big part of what happens and what you feel when you are raped. On the outside I felt I could handle a lot of things but for so long I walked around feeling someone would be able to see through me and find out my secret and then expose me to the world. I could not even bring myself to tell my family till well into my late 20s.
They were shocked and to some extent could understand certain aspects of my personality, especially the volatile outbursts and extreme anger geared towards men, especially the macho kind. I have always been the unpredictable one. The “were” i.e. crazy one and the craziness and extreme fearlessness was even more solidified after that traumatic experience. I figured, even at that age, that if I had been through that, there was nothing I could not get through and that I’d be damned if any man was able to get close to me to hurt me that way, ever again.
The anger shielded me and I felt protected. But here I was in my late 20s confronted with the reality that I had to deal with the fear that had manifested through extreme anger which affected my ability to cultivate healthy relationships, especially with the Nigerian men that were interested in dating me. I finally had the courage to face my fears. This meant I had to become a child again, even though I was a grown, professional and accomplished woman. I very reluctantly and truly screaming and fighting every step of the way, revisited that deep pain that had outgrown the dungeon because it became compounded with other factors; like an absent father. It was ugly.
Without any warning, the post traumatic stress disorder, if you will, that I had bottled up for so long from the rape hit me and it broke me down completely. I was a broken woman. Face flat on the floor, sobbing with mucus dripping, drenched, overwhelmed, depressed, complete loss of desire to do anything career or otherwise. . . that kind of break down . . .
It took a lot and my wonderful family and friends to help pick me up, dust me off and say, “you are a much stronger person and you will be okay.”
So, here we are . . . over time, I have had the privilege to work with, mentor and provide a hand to both young girls and boys who have been raped. It’s an unspoken language but we get each other, particularly the stigma and shame that comes with being raped.
Over the weekend, as I heard and read the story of the University girl who was gang raped by five young men, I again became afraid to talk about this, to share this. The shame still lingers, after all this time. Can you all believe this? The embarrassment still lingers. I HATE pity parties with a passion and when geared towards me, I just feel like crap. I just don’t like it. But I thought to myself, “Uduak, if not freaking now, when? When will you tell your story so you can help others? Shame and embarrassment is a small price to pay so this issue is at least on the forefront and one girl can be saved and/or criminal perpetrators of this crime punished. “
In the USA, when a woman is raped and the perpetrators known, the repercussions are quite severe. This kind of repercussions did not happen overnight. Women had to fight for this to happen.
IN NIGERIA, WHEN A WOMAN IS RAPED, AND THE PERPETRATORS ARE KNOWN, THERE IS A HIGH FIVE OR SLAP ON THE BACK, IF YOU WILL AMONG FELLAS. At best a response such as “you insulted him” is what is often heard to the victim or “what did you do to make him rape you?” As in, are you serious? Or “Ashawo, look at what you were wearing,” from women! If one is lucky, a fellow woman might say, “sorry. Clean up, move on.”
LOOK AT OUR NOLLYWOOD MOVIES??!! Jim Iyke and Desmond Elliot for a long time were the poster boys for Nollywood’s rapists. I can’t count how many movies I have watched where these two rape young housemaids and women and the film director and writers reward them in the story line. Nothing ever happens. Even an actor has a responsibility as to what roles he/she takes. After one too many rape roles, you ought to say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Come with more creativity or have punishment for actions such as rape if you want me to play these roles! Money and popularity shouldn’t always be the driving force to do things.
We have a culture of silence when it comes to rape. Since Linda Ikeji reported this, where are the celebrities both music, fashion and film who can leverage the power of their status and their large fan base, which includes women, to tweet or put up one liner facebook status messages saying “the rape of the Abia state female student is unacceptable and I demand the government must do something about it!?” Where is our Genevieve Nnaji, D’Banj, P-Square, Don Jazzy and all other hosts of top musicians, actors and comedians to take a stance?
Are Nigerian men cowards? Do we have cowards for boyfriends, husbands, fathers and brothers? Where are they? What do they have to say about this? What are they doing?
How many Nigerians do we have on Facebook? Where are they to set Facebook ablaze and speak and demand an criminal punishment against this?
Where are the political commentators that always have something to say and remind us of how bad Jonathan Goodluck’s administration is and how things need to be fixed. They seem too quiet for the atrocious human violation committed against our daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers and babies.
I’ll tell you where some of our men are. Some are on twitter and after Linda Ikeji brought attention to this story, some of our men are on twitter making the hashtag: #rapeherif . . . a trending topic on twitter. In violation of twitter terms and services, which should result in blocking all those accounts engaged in enticing and encouraging the commission of a crime, these sick depraved human beings have tweeted, things like
“#rapehe if she insults you, #rapeherif you catch her in a corner, #rapeherif she teases and you are hard. . . .”
What was the crime of the young girl who was raped? She allegedly insulted the boys.
We have a problem and we must and are required to do something about it, as a society and as individuals.
As a society, where do we want to go? What are we about? I keep asking these questions, often, because it seems we are very gullible to the fact that we all will age i.e. grow old faster than we can think to say it. The young ones are right behind us. They see the actions we have modeled and will treat us accordingly. America was once a society where people respected elders and children did not talk anyhow to their parents. The American value systems mirrored some of the values we Nigerians and Africans like to boast about. What has happened?
Before we get a on a self righteous high horse trying to diagnose the problems in another man’s country, let’s really look at ourselves. We are no better. Nigeria is a country where citizens are okay and complacent with rape, among other heinous crimes committed against one another? What’s really good??!
Worse those charged with protecting Nigeria’s citizens are also perpetrators of heinous crimes such as rape.
In 2006, Amnesty International had the following to say about rape by those charged to protect Nigerian citizens . . “Amnesty International . . .criticised the Nigerian government for failing to adequately prosecute members of the police and security forces who commit rape against women and girls, and has called on the country’s Federal and State authorities to urgently overhaul legal and social systems that tolerate widespread rape and sexual violence across the country.
Speaking at a press conference today where it launched its new report Nigeria: Rape – the silent weapon, Amnesty International said rape by police and security forces is endemic throughout the country. . .
The laws are on the book. It is a federal crime under Nigeria’s criminal code to rape a woman. Where are Nigeria’s prosecutors? Where are the honest police men and women to arrest, investigate and charge these crimes in light of real evidence provided?
Can you believe that in a country of 150million people only 46cases of rape was reported in 2005 according to Amnesty International? We know more than that occurs, certainly. What about child rape? The alarming rates that children get raped should make us go on forty days and forty nights of fasting for Nigeria.
We have a culture that encourages this kinds of criminal behavior towards our women. A culture where men encourage women to be completely dependent on them for money in exchange for sex. We have a crisis where our girls are transported to Europe only to be turned into prostitutes and all we can say is “Edo girls blah, blah,blah?” Like WTH? Who cares if she is from Edo. She is a Nigerian pikin???!!
Do we have laws on the books that speak against rape? Yes we do.
Chapter 30, sections 357 through 361 of Nigeria’s Criminal Code provide as follows:
“357. Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, or, in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape.
358. Any person who commits the offence of rape is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without caning.
359. Any person who attempts to commit the offence of rape is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years, with or without caning.
360. Any person who unlawfully and indecently assaults a woman or girl is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for two years.
361. Any person who, with intent to marry or carnally know a female of any age, or to cause her to be married, or carnally known by any other person, takes her away, or detains her, against her will, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.”
If the laws are on the books, why is this atrocity not prosecuted to the fullest?
CALL TO ACTION
Especially for my music, fashion and film industry people, what are you gonna do about it? Bloggers and media Journalists cannot do it all. BellaNaija, Aribaba of Jaguda.com, Linda Ikeji, Olamild Entertainment, myself and other sites cannot do it all. We need your help! Don’t come to us only for publicity and yet another event. We need you to step up and be counted. Do your part. More than ever before, we are at a point where we can make a difference, all of us. Get involved!
Report to duty on your twitter, facebook etc pages. At your performances, film premieres or shows say something. Ask for a moment of silence for rape victims or what have you. Donate some of the monies you make to rape shelters for rape victims. Join and speak against rape anytime you have the opportunity to do so. For designers, for your fashion events, donate part of your monies to help victims like the young woman raped at the ABSU college campus. Send us media and bloggers these stories when you come across them.
I will do my part to mobilize my media colleagues and rape organizations to bring attention to this urgent crisis in Nigeria and to particularly do something about this young woman.
If we do our part, we could literally save a life. If we do our part, the young generation of Nigerian women will grow to be even more confident than they already are; and will thank us for saving their lives.
I am afraid that with the rate we are going and the continued raping of our women, both in the literal and figurative sense, our future looks very dismal. Don’t be fooled by the “effizy or what have you.” We will be held accountable for these acts as bystanders and non-actors.
Photocredit: Ms. Magazine.com
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