Few issues unite Nigerians just like the quite a few tales of sexual abuse, intrenched in custom and scattered throughout tribes and cultures, and perpetrated principally towards ladies. So endemic is that this tradition of sexual violence towards ladies that it’s woven into the very cloth of our existence. It cuts throughout all segments of society: the house, the training system, the office, the nation’s armed providers, hospitals and even locations of worship — locations that over 40% of the nation’s populace contemplate a second house the place many search refuge. There’s overwhelming statistical proof to again up these claims.

Nothing exposes the
backwardness of a rustic greater than this prevalent rape tradition, backed by
non secular and cultural sentiments of male supremacy and dominance.

The 2014 Nationwide Survey on Violence Towards Youngsters in Nigeria discovered that one in 4 ladies have skilled sexual violence in childhood, with over 70% of them reporting multiple incident. Of the 24.8% of girls aged 18 to 24 who’ve skilled sexual abuse earlier than the age of 18, a dismal 5% sought assist, and simply 3.5% obtained any help.

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Nigeria’s Prison Code recommends life imprisonment for these convicted of rape and 14 years for tried rape. Provided that as few as two out of 40 rape circumstances are reported in Nigeria, it’s tough to estimate the variety of rapes dedicated annually. But it’s fairly surprising that within the authorized historical past of Nigeria, fewer than 20 individuals have been convicted of the crime. 

One main purpose for this is likely to be the truth that most rape perpetrators are recognized to the sufferer, and would possibly even be members of the family. As Nigeria’s tradition dictates defending the household in any respect price, the burden is left for the sufferer to bear, usually inflicting main life-long trauma with none hope for justice. To know why that is so, we have now to delve into the cultural and spiritual elements which have enabled this menace to proceed for thus lengthy, uncorrected, all throughout Nigeria.

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Context of Rape

The Nigerian girl is aware of the potential of rape is at all times excessive. She is reminded at each flip that, as a lady, any man who’s bodily robust sufficient can determine to exhibit his supremacy by the use of sexual violence.

In locations of
worship, whether or not mosques or church buildings, she is taught to maintain her head bowed down
and her voice low or, even higher, inaudible, to not “distract the boys” from
going about their enterprise of trying to find God. A lady is, in brief, a
distraction strategically positioned to convey down a person.

This non secular and cultural bias towards ladies in Nigeria has a large scope of penalties. The area most hardly hit, northern Nigeria, has feminine illiteracy charges of over 80%, with solely 3% of girls finishing secondary training. (It’s right here that the #ArewaMeToo hashtag originated in response to the worldwide #MeToo motion, arewa being the Hausa phrase for “north.”) Virtually half of Nigerian ladies develop into moms earlier than the age of 20 and, with a maternal mortality charge of 917 per 100,000 ladies in comparison with a median of 11 per 100,000 in high-income nations, there are vital well being statistics stacked towards the Nigerian girl. 

In some components of the nation, ladies are denied authorized rights to personal property. Solely 4% of the nation’s land in northeastern Nigeria is owned by ladies, 10% within the southeast and the south. Sure customary legal guidelines state that solely males can personal land, and the one manner a lady can get entry to land is thru marriage. This fosters a tradition the place ladies are determined to marry, not for the sake of the marital union, however due to what she stands to achieve from being joined to a male companion, additional lending credence to a tradition of male supremacy.

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This view of girls as mere addenda to the boys will increase a notion that she must be handled as lesser human beings and spikes an elevated tolerance for sexual abuse by males who wield energy over them. It additionally makes the folks — women and men alike — typically uncomfortable with a single, profitable girl with out a husband. It’s seen as an anomaly for a girl to realize prominence with out the mentorship and steering of a powerful male determine corresponding to a husband, behind whose prowess she takes cowl.

This cultural and spiritual context stands out as the underlying purpose behind the societal stress to stay silent and the robust component of disgrace round rape and rape victims. Spousal rape has completely no worth in any respect, and the nation’s penal code permits husbands to beat their wives — offered it doesn’t result in critical harm.

Whereas it’s true that male rape can be an issue, it received’t be solved by deemphasizing violence towards ladies. Once we shift the highlight from the ladies who convey up the topic of rape and as an alternative think about what’s sometimes called “not often mentioned male rape,” we find yourself propagating rape tradition, alongside attitudes like sufferer blaming and slut shaming. As a matter of reality, male rape good points extra credence after we are open about feminine rape and the bodily and psychological injury it inflicts on ladies of all ages, influencing their attitudes and actions towards the boys of their lives.

Girls Proudly owning Their Voices

Not too long ago, ladies have been talking out extra freely about incidences of rape and sexual assault. The tales of policemen raping alleged prostitutes within the nation’s capital, Abuja, obtained media protection. When a outstanding pastor was accused by a former church member of rape, it sparked a dialog on social media, resulting in extra allegations towards him and different figures of authority. The following #ChurchToo motion protest noticed the pastor step down from his pulpit. The sufferer went on to hunt authorized recourse, whereas different victims spoke out brazenly about comparable experiences, proudly owning their voices and their tales.

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That is the primary time Nigeria skilled such an open dialogue concerning the topic of rape. Though the victims had been confronted with long-suppressed emotions of disgrace, anger and rage, the general public acknowledgement of reality that there’s a large rape drawback in Nigeria is step one towards constructing a accountable society that protects its ladies.

Nevertheless, a lot of
the rape nonetheless goes unreported, particularly amongst those that can not converse up, like
the kid brides of northern Nigeria towards whom statutory rape is being dedicated
every day. As a result of ladies occupy few positions within the nation’s public
sector, and even fewer positions on the high the place main decision-making happens,
the illustration of these worst hit continues to be at an all-time low.

One factor is definite: Few males are conscious of the immense energy they should affect and form the lives of girls, and only a few of them really perceive the magnitude of the crime of sexual assault or rape on the victims. Whereas male training and advocacy towards rape is choosing up momentum, it’s nonetheless removed from being satisfactory. Because of this, the necessity for ladies to take up positions of energy and authority has by no means been as important as it’s now. There merely must be a stronger illustration of girls in politics and policymaking if something is to alter.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s
personal and don’t essentially replicate Honest Observer’s editorial coverage.