Long before the contemporary levels of awareness and progress of the #MeToo era, the menace of sexual violence has been a normalized part of life for far too many women, girls, and some boys and men in Nigeria.
For a nation which places culture, religion and good values on a tower with its spire in the clouds, the impunity with which sexual offenders commit crimes and get protected for it is incongruent. The hypocrisy brings bile to the throat. Victims suffer many times over and the damage is often irreparable. As if the turmoils of being a Nigerian weren’t enough to make life bleak, these victims and survivors have to contend with stigma, emotional and physical effects their entire lives. In some cases, the cycle of abuse continues as they go on to be perpetrators.
This book is a short read but is packed with facts and research on the problem of rape and other sexual crimes in Nigeria. It debunks myths that have kept the problem alive for this long and counters the societal acceptance of sweeping it under the carpet. Solutions are highlighted on how to achieve a society free of these horrific acts via taking precautions, preventing sexual violence and changing the poisonous mindsets that cause it.
kangbch from Pixabay “>
Image credit: kangbch from Pixabay “>
We are shown that rape is an act of violence, a display of power and control over a victim’s body and life that includes injury and sometimes death and thus should not be chalked up to the simplism of sexual attraction. We see that women as old as ninety and girls as young as three have been victims of rape. There have even been newspaper stories about eight-month-old female infants being raped.
The list is endless. A case was reported just this morning by LinkaNG, a Nigerian health communication start-up.
Contrary to what some would like us to believe, staying at home is not a guaranteed way to avoid being raped in Nigeria. Many victims are attacked by their closest relatives and supposed loved ones. The home is therefore not the safe haven it should be. Boys and men are victims too. There are numerous heart-wrenching accounts of boys as young as four being violated. In addition, the statistics show that the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are men.
the shame associated with
the crime is borne not by the
perpetrators but the victims.
One needs not to be an academic to appreciate the value of research. And this particular one is a feat considering that in this country, the shame associated with the crime is borne not by the perpetrators but the victims. The victims and families who reported these cases must be commended for their bravery. It is extremely traumatic to relive events like this and the law isn’t always on their side. Not too long ago Nigerian Twitter was awash with a report of a father whose young daughter was raped at school and during the process of making a case, he had to pay for the medical tests of not just his daughter but that of the perpetrator!
This book draws on work by Project Alert and Mirabel Centre two of the organizations making strides in ending sexual violence in Nigeria. The stigma attached to the victims makes it difficult for bodies like theirs to get data for this research. Another Nigerian organization leading change in mental health and sexual violence is She Writes Woman founded by Queen’s Young Leader,
Hauwa Ojeifo, a survivor herself who has shared her experience and works tirelessly to help countless women.
With this, hopefully, more awareness will be raised and more progress would be achieved. It wouldn’t take up to an hour for most readers. Which is just as well as everyone would benefit from this. Sexual violence is closer to home than most of us want to admit. Let’s work together to have a nation and world free of this evil. Nigerian writer and social critic, El Nathan John provides a synopsis of the pervasion of violence in the country in this poignant Twitter thread..
Rating: 4/5 stars
Thanks to Oyinkansola Momoh of Muslimah Style Guide for lending me this book for a quick read and of course providing access to a valuable library.