Psychologists and activists have affirmed that the long-term psychological and physical effects of rape experience are devastating. And, unfortunately, our culture helps in exacerbating the crime. MUHAMMAD KABIR, and Baba tope Okeowo write
For a whooping seven years, Hassana, 14, was not only defiled, she was dehumanized and traumatised by her biological father. Immediately after the death of her mother, the father transferred the emotions he had for her mother to Hassana, their only daughter! He slept with her, brutalized her whenever she says no to his advances. He scares whoever comes to her rescue by claiming she was insane.
“My father usually tell my rescuers that whoever offers to help me will suffer from mental problem. Hearing that, people kept their distance from me,” she alleged. According to her, her father became so obsessed with that he was always quick to assist her. She said she makes her hair under strict supervision of her father. She added that he inserted sanitary pad for her whenever she is in her menstrual flow.
“Each time, he does that, he would say he is doing what my mother could not live long enough to do,” she said. Consequently and psychologically, Hassana bored the pains of having sex with her father. “My father dared not see me with any man, he would chase them with cutlass,” she said. Eventually, a helper came her way who took her to For Aisha,12, another rape victim, it started by sending her on errand.
According to her, her neighbour takes advantage of the absence of her mother by asking her to go on errand for him or offer to wash her vaginal whenever she urinate or defecate. “He told me that whenever, I urinate or defecate, I should let him know so that he could help take good care of me,” she said. Aisha’s neighbour graduated from sending her on errand to washing her vaginal and to fingering her.
Eventually, he got to his maim point of defiling her at age 10. Thereafter, he gave the little girl stern warning not to tell anyone. The illicit affairs went on for two years until it got to the knowledge of the girl’s mother. However, Aisha’s mother was still grateful that the damage did not go beyond sexual abuse as the girl was not infected or impregnated. “I thank God that she is fit to go back to school now,” she said. Meimuna,13 had gone on a holiday to visit her aunt in Kano from Kaduna. While in Kano, she helped her aunt who sell Fabrics and locally weaved basket to stay in the shop. On the fateful day, her aunt sent her to one of her basket suppliers within the neighbourhood. On getting there, the supplier, Isa by name offered a drink and asked her to wait while he helped her put together the remaining products.
“That was all I remember. I woke up to see that I was tied to the ground, my mouth gaggled! Then he came on top of me- very painful. I couldn’t scream out nor moved because my mouth was covered and my body pinned down. Throughout that day, he kept entering into me. He would stand up and go outside for some time and then come back to continue with me,” she narrated. Meimuna continued that for four days, she was in the man’s custody, and surprisingly, her aunt did not come to look for her. When she eventually got home, her aunt begged her not to say it out. “She promised to buy plenty gifts for me,” she said.
But Meimuna could not keep that to herself, for she told her parents on the phone. According to her, they rushed to Kano to report to the police but more shocking was the carefree attitude the police displayed on the issue. And her aunt, she said denied any knowledge of such incident. Rape issue has become so rampart in Kano state to the extent the women lost their cool and protested the incessant rape issue. Recently, a group of women tagged ‘Professional women groups’ in Kano trooped out in their dozens. Born out of anger and concern for their daughters and girls, they defied the early morning downpour few weeks ago to stage a protest rally against rampant cases of rape in Kano and environs.
They carried placards with inscriptions, “Real men don’t rape,” “Enough is enough” and “We say no to rape.” The protest which was jointly organized by alumni of the St, Louis secondary school, Kano, and hordes of other professional women bodies in the city was aimed at drawing attention to the menace of rape. Hajiya Aishatu Dankani, one of the conveners of the group stated that rape case upsurge in Kano due to the state government lackadaisical attitude towards it. “We seek permission to take to the streets three weeks ago, but the government prevented us from doing so on the excuse that we will embarrass them.
We waited patiently but the menace kept growing on daily basis,” she said Another Convener, Hauwa Elyakub said that, “as we came out, we already saw heavy Security officials stationed all over. We thought that since the issue of rape affect every other persons, the Kano state Governor will lead us to our designated places of visits that includes House of Assembly, Emir Palace and lastly government house. Unfortunately, he was not there.” She avowed that, “We are ready for anything and we are ready to even go to court if the menace does not stop. This is about the future of our children and I don’t think we will joke with it.
” Unfortunately, rape issue is not limited to Kano or other Northern part of Nigeria, it’s all over the country. For instance in Ondo state, among many other rape stories was the case of a 72 years old woman- Victoria Akinseye. Two days ago, on a day that seemed quite normal for Akinseye, while working on her farm, was raped. She narrated that some men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen took turn to rape her on her farm in Ore, Odigbo Local Government area of Ondo State. “I was working on the farm when the two men invaded my farm and before I could question them about their mission on my farm, they gagged me, tear my clothes and took turn to rape me. They threatened to kill me thereafter, if I make any noise. They left me badly injured on the farm,” she explained.
A group of youths under the auspices of Ondo State Youth Coalition and Farmers protested in solidarity support for the old woman, they converged in Akure, the state capital to protest the rape. The group in its reaction threatened to take laws into their hands if the state government failed to address the issue immediately. The coordinator of the OSYC, Oluwatuyi Adekanmbi, said herdsmen have not only raped and destroyed farms in the state, they have also resorted into killing, terrorizing and kidnapping farmers in their farmlands. The group appealed to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and the state House of Assembly to enact a law that will effectively stop the incessant attack from the herdsmen in order to protect farmers and their farm and to ensure security of lives.
Aftermath of Rape
According to a psychologist who pleaded anonymity, the aftermath of rape involves a cluster of acute and chronic physical and psychological effects. “It’s important that victims receive comprehensive care that addresses both the short and long-term effects of rape as they become apparent. Frequently a victim’s intimate relationship, if present prior to the assault, disintegrates within one year after the rape. This only adds to the psychological impact of the rape on the victim. Victims of extremely violent rape, or those who were assaulted repeatedly or at a very young age, may need treatment for the rest of their lives.”
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