Why rape victims and cases are poorly treated in Nigeria

By Jennifer Ajimande November 30, 2015 11:48

Why rape victims and cases are poorly treated in Nigeria

Recently, the emotional laden rape story of blogger and illustrator Lotanna Igwe-Odunze, popularly known as Sugabelly, swept through social media spheres indicting late Abubakar Audu’s sons of gang rape.

The documented and moving story left many in tears as she narrated how she was repeatedly abused sexually at the age of 17 by Mustapha Audu; his brothers and friends all taking turns in reckless fashion.

The artist and blogger starts her heartbreaking and compelling story by describing the psychological trauma she battles, and how a seemingly innocent relationship with her crush graduated into full blown case of sexual abuse, almost every day for six months in 2007.

Sad young woman sitting on the bed

The graphic narrative of her ordeal has sparked an outrage on social media as commentators continue to express anger at how poorly rape victims and rape cases are treated in Nigeria.

In a society where people victimize rape victims and women’s right are generally trampled on, it is not surprising that Twitter’s social court has found the victim guilty of defamation of the “good character” of the Audus with the main actor’s wife launching into a verbal diatribe.

There is a growing prevalence of child abuse globally and the alarming statistics are beginning to involve Nigerian children on a daily basis.

It is pertinent to state that the vast majority of cases of sexual violence against women in Nigeria go unreported for various reasons associated with victim shaming, stigma, character assassination, public backlash and limited access to justice for victims.

Statistics show that hundreds of Nigerian minors between ages 2 to 15 are raped annually with some cases bordering on the very fiendish. Some local incidents are indicative of that sad fact and the stories below tell it all.

In July this year in Ado Ekiti, a 35 year old teacher was imprisoned for defiling a nine year old girl.

Another minor, a 12-year old female student alleged that Mr. Edwards, the son of the school proprietor, always invited her to his office where he would hug, kiss, and insert his fingers into her genitals with several threats to fail her if she reported the issue.

The story is not different in Enugu, a 22 year old man Uche Umeri, was said to have raped a 3 year old girl at the back of the church during service.

These are a few of the rape incidents that see the light of day, many victims are afraid to come out and admit to the abuse. Societal stigma and the incidences of victims becoming the culprits are factors that deride the need to report such cases. The umbrage directed at Sugabelly is uncalled for considering she is the victim in this case.

Fortunately, Sugabelly’s outcry has drawn the attention of social activist Oby Ezekwesili, former member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives, Abike Dabiri and award winning journalist, Funmi Iyanda among others who have voiced their support for her.

Her story has drawn attention to the plight of rape victims and the urgent need for governments at all levels to address the menace, provide succor for the victims and vigorously pursue a punitory fix to this issue.

Several preventive measures should be taken to prevent reoccurrences of this social misnomer; parents, teachers, relatives should be extra vigilant and provide guidance for their children and wards. In cases where the deed has been done, victims should be encouraged to seek counseling and speak out.

Rape is condemnable, it is an unjustifiable act in our society and it is, finally, time that we rise as a nation to condemn and eradicate this despicable act.