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Rapists Can No Longer Hide!

Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe writes that it will no longer be business as usual in the way sexual violence and its perpetrators are handled in Nigeria.

Sexual violence has become endemic in Nigeria / Photo credit: medium.com
Sexual violence has become endemic in Nigeria / Photo credit: medium.com

Where do we even begin? Almost like a hurricane the force hit many of us, forcing us to finally abandon the snooze button.

Oh yes, we had been snoozing.

We had been snoozing while the unspeakable evil of sexual abuse, especially of minors, reigned unchecked.

Our women and girls have been violated endlessly, particularly by those they have trusted most.

Whether in their homes, their churches, their schools, their work places and even hospitals, nowhere in Nigeria has it been safe for the women and girls.

With the opening of the floodgates, we are also reminded again why it’s extremely difficult for victims of sexual abuse to come out and name their abusers

Perhaps the most heartbreaking of all the stories that have since emerged is the story of a Nigerian Ibadan-based professor and poet who raped his five daughters all through their childhood and teenage years.

According to his last daughter who has now shared the story, she suffered the ordeal for 10 years, from when she was five till 15 years.

She has also revealed that he aborted pregnancies for her elder sisters about three times each.

Her mother, she said, was aware of all the atrocities her husband was committing against her children but was blinded by love.

At that point I wished I could unread the entire narrative.

But that’s wishful thinking. There is no stopping the deluge of the hitherto hidden tales of mind-twisting cases of sexual abuse of our women and girls.

However, with the opening of the floodgates, we are also reminded again why it’s extremely difficult for victims of sexual abuse to come out and name their abusers.

Apparently, in this country, it doesn’t matter when you decide to stop hiding as a rape victim.

The moment you raise your head from under the table of reproach to face your truth and the accompanying fears, you become a victim yet again.

And so, many among us have decided to go to their graves with untold stories.

They tell themselves that they’re already victims and that there’s no need speaking up if it will only result in their victimhood being reinforced.

Apparently, in this country, it doesn’t matter when you decide to stop hiding as a rape victim. The moment you raise your head from under the table of reproach to face your truth and the accompanying fears, you become a victim yet again

Just look at what Busola and Timi Dakolo have gone through in the past couple of weeks then you would understand the reason she and other victims hadn’t come out before now.

But we thank them.

We thank them because the snooze button is now on the disable mode and so, we are fully awake.

Last week the Director-General (DG) of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Dame Julie Okah-Donli announced that the agency would open a national sex offender register for rapists.

Before now, only Lagos and Ekiti states have such registers.

She said that the federal government was ready to name and shame all convicted sex offenders and pedophiles in the country.

They will not only be registered their names will also be sent to embassies, offices, radio and television stations, so they will be refused visas and jobs.

With the latest clamour for a death penalty coming from the senators themselves, it won’t be long now before tougher sentences, including life imprisonment will be the wages of any rapist

We have seen other countries with similar registers and how effective it has been in protecting their citizens from vile rapists and paedopiles.

In the United Kingdom, for instance, there are approximately about 60,000 sex offenders on the list as at March, 2018.

In the US all of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have regularly updated sex offender registries.

Unlike in other countries with sex offender registries, in the US the registers are all open to the public who can view them online.

As at 2016 there were 859,500 registered sex offenders in in the US sex offender registries.

I know it won’t be such a robust register because we hardly convict rapists in the part of world.

This is because we either shame the victims to an eternal silence, beg them and their families to forgive or allow our law enforcement agents bungle the cases.

Nonetheless, it’s a good start..

My guess is that when victims see that continuously, sex offenders are punished, they will be more comfortable to come and name their molesters.

Yet another development that can bring comfort to victims of sexual violence in the country is that even our ordinarily tepid senators have also declared total war on rapists and pedophiles.

With the latest clamour for a death penalty coming from the senators themselves, it won’t be long now before tougher sentences, including life imprisonment will be the wages of any rapist.

We know it may never get to the death penalty (Which I don’t support, anyway), locking them away for life would ensure they never harm another human being, in this gruesome manner, ever again.

Let’s just say that finally, for every rapist lurking around the corner somewhere in this country and waiting to pounce on one vulnerable girl or woman; it’s game on!

Just this Monday, Baobab for Women’s Human Rights began its Name and Shame Campaign against rapists.

The Executive director of the NGO, Mrs. Bunmi Dipo-Salami, who spoke to The Interview, said, “We hope that at the end of this social media campaign, more sexually abused women and girls would have the courage to speak up and name their abusers and seek the justice they deserve.”

The campaign which has seen the organisation publish photos of nine rapists every day for naming and shaming, will, without doubt, go a long way in sending the right message home.

That this country, its people and cultures can no longer accommodate those who sexually violate others in order to satisfy their own urges.

That never again shall we hide under religion, family and culture and allow rapists roam freely and continue to wreak havoc among us.

Shall we then say that our women and girls are now safe?
Not really.

Indeed it’s a long road to that safe place but many now determined to walk it.

However, let’s just say that finally, for every rapist lurking around the corner somewhere in this country and waiting to pounce on one vulnerable girl or woman; it’s game on!

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