Honourable Minister, normally, I would begin this with a horde of pleasantries. Today, you must pardon me.
I am enraged. Anger wells are dug in my chest; rolled up like a thick ball ready to break free of my ribs caging it. Now, my chest roars unabatedly in pain and with the sad realization of my ineptitude to do something substantial, unlike you.
I sit in front of my television set; flipping through channels distractedly seeking nothing more but to while away time so intent on moving slothfully.
Today, I got more than I bargained for. On the news was a man, aged 27, accused, tried and found guilty of raping a 2 year old girl. Just like that! His inability to control his urges or worse still, channel them in rather reasonable ways led him to pluck the light from this little girl’s life. What did she ever do to deserve this crudeness, this beastly act? Innocence, pristine as the morning dew, soiled merely to please a fleeting need!
Away from my television set, it is truly alarming that cases of abuse and sexual violence have increased the world over; Nigeria, not being an exception. In a survey conducted in Lagos State, a total of 150 cases of abuse were reported within 12 months. This is just a figure on the books. Knowing fully well our societal and traditional values of conservativeness, hundreds of victims would rather suffer in silence than come forward to speak out; condemned to carry the burden of a truth that has enslaved them to their graves. Some may want to come out, but the threats made by their assailants would leave them paralyzed, unable to seek help and in most cases, treatment.
Honourable Minister, this is indeed a serious issue requiring the prompt action of your good office. For me, it is quite difficult to wrap my mind around the thought of a father defiling his daughter, or of an ‘aged’ man taking advantage of a toddler, causing blemish and posing serious physical and mental dangers. These are not cases of hearsay, they are sadly, everyday occurrences allowed to thrive.
I have in my humble position sought to identify the major reason(s) for this menace and resolved that two key issues are responsible for the consistent inflation of this problem. They are; lack of or slack institutional frameworks and societal pose towards victims of abuse.
Despite the presence of institutions put in place by government, one finds them, like many other governmental agencies, to be grossly inefficient, understaffed with no innate zeal, or empathy to help victims and fight this menace head on. More so, like I earlier pointed out, our society is battered with stunting conceptions. It, in most cases for instance, glorifies the silence of a victim, views it, as being ‘strong’. When in truth, it is crippled with fear of ‘what people would say’ this then leads to social and emotional stigmatization. Once a victim steps forward to report, society begins to see and treat such as second class, impure and worthless essentially reproaching them for doing the right thing.
Ergo, to effectively combat this unpleasantness, Institutional and societal frameworks have to be re-adjusted. If both could work effectively, rape, abuses, physical molestation and their attendant ills would be brought to a halt. Society has to encourage individuals to step forward upon being molested, provide them with the necessary support before and after making such reports. The police must be up to the task in swiftly apprehending and charging culprits to court. The Judiciary must live up to the expectation of being the last hope of the common man by expediting the judicial processes involved and giving firm sentences in accordance with the Law to serve as further deterrent. Civil society organizations could be assisted financially and through legislative initiatives to further compliment whatever steps government takes in this regard.
Ibrahim Muhammad Nasir
Student of Law | Avid Reader | Advocate for Social Justice