Amb. Tunde OGUNYALE
Rape has always been a monstrous act against the will of the victims. The rate at which the criminal offence is reported in recent times is far more worrisome as we continue to witness a hike in the incidence across the world, particularly in Africa.
I recently read in the news -Premium Times- of how the Nigeria Police Force recorded 717 reported rape cases between January and May, 2020 – five months! Most unfortunately, some of the victims lost their lives in the process. This beastly behaviour, sadly, does not exclude the teenagers, even children of 3 years old! In fact, Africa has the highest prevalence rate of child sexual abuse at around 34.4%. Our society is in trouble. And our peace is speedily eroding by the untamed urge and emotional indiscipline of some individuals who throw cautions to the wind and take pleasure in perpetrating this evil act.
Some of the frequent excuses rapists give include but are not limited to: “She was dressed half-naked” “She tempted me” “She wore revealing clothes that aroused me” etc. None of these excuses – and several others – is excusable. This is not to encourage nudity or improper dressing among the female folks who are generally the only recognised group capable of being raped under the Nigerian law.
While proper dressing – a sense of dressing that significantly covers sensitive parts of the body – is encouraged, we aren’t oblivious of the fact that lack of it is not the major cause of rape anywhere. If it is, why should a 3-year old baby suffer defilement? Why should a Muslim lady dress in burka or niqab ever be a victim of rape? What is the attraction rapists see in an 80-year old woman or a 7-year old girl?
In my opinion, what causes rape is multifaceted. Some people’s engagement in the act is rooted in indiscipline; for some, their indiscipline is enhanced by what they see – perhaps, this is why proper dressing would help reduce the incidence. It’s also not impossible that some people committed the crime out of spiritual attacks. Such individuals don’t need counsel from any psychologist, what they need is spiritual breakthrough.
Irrespective of the cause of rape, it’s fair and expected that anyone who is found guilty of the offence of rape should be punished in accordance with the rule of law under the supervision and interpretation of court of competent jurisdiction. This fair punishment will stand as a deterrent to several other people secretly nursing the unpopular ambition to be a monster in our clime, the human clime. It will also, I should think, inspire the sexually undisciplined fellows to seek counsel and tame or annihilate their unholy, immoral desire to perpetually and irredeemably hurt their fellow beings. In addition, giving the right punishment to a deserving convict of rape should encourage every man to draw closer to God in order to avoid being susceptible to unnecessary spiritual attacks that may reduce their world to some walled jail.
As long as sexual relationship is concerned, consent is fundamental – even in legally contracted marriage. Cases of sexual abuse in our communities and nation today have consistently made peaceful co-existence impossible. A mother can no longer be at peace if she leaves her female children, however young, to the care of her male neighbour and rush to the market to buy stuff. Everyone, unfortunately, is now a suspect. The constant reoccurrence of this ugly incidence has robbed us all of giving anyone the benefit of the doubt, and that is not supposed to be. But how does one sincerely tell that Mr. A is not like that when even some religious leaders who one couldn’t possibly imagine as perpetrators are being caught in the very act? It’s hard to humanly tell who is who. How do we continue to coexist like this? Everyone should be careful and vigilant. Men should know that if it is against her will, it is against the law.
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