‘I can’t keep quiet any more’

When a girl-child is born to the world, it is a great gift from the Almighty God. But when this gift is becoming violated across the country with attendant culture of silence, fear, pain, intimidation and suppression among others, then it only calls for stiff penalty from concerted effort of stakeholders. OLUWATOSIN OMONIYI writes

Rape is not pleasant! To be raped is like a raging forest inferno. It is an experience no lady wishes to have. It has no respect for age, sex or race.
Unfortunately, most of the victims alleged that they were blamed for falling victims. They said they were blamed for putting on seductive dresses or revealing part of their bodies. All these seemingly foolish reasons for violation of their beings, they believe are not enough; hence, they seek proper justice, stiffer punishing measures and the right to be heard and not stigmatised.
With the spate of rape in Nigeria going on almost unabated, it is right to presume that being a girl-child or woman means helplessness.
In a Webinar recently by the Media Women Forum, a group of senior female editors, media owners, broadcasters, media lecturers within and outside Nigeria, the Kebbi First Lady, Dr. Zainab Skinkafi Bagudu, spoke on ‘Gender Based Violence’ perpetuated against women in Nigeria and the measures to take to prevent it.
Also, videos of victims were played.
For the family of Mallam Sadau, in Kebbi State, life will never remain the same again. Any Wednesday especially when it is approaching, will always bring sad memory that will continue to devastate their hearts, perhaps throughout their life time.
Their neighbour sneaked into their home when the parents had gone to work in the afternoon. He had carnal knowledge of the young girl in the house. The poor girl reported the issue to her parents upon their arrival from work. All the mother could say was to tell the girl to keep quiet because she doesn’t want the story to get to the social media for fear shame and stigmatisation associated with it. She cajoled her daughter that, “if this should get out, it is going to be a thing of disgrace to our family. It will become a game of shame to us till the end of time.”
The father was more concerned about his image in the community. “Do you want my integrity and image in the community tarnished, knowing well that there are gossips, hypocrites who will seek nothing but my downfall. This is a warning; don’t ever think of disclosing this matter to anyone,” he warned.
Painfully, both parents are more concerned about their own images in the community, not minding their daughter’s pains and trauma.
The young lady said she took solace in the dark corner of her room where she cried and nursed the heartache alone. In other words, she will be forced to live with the pains for the rest of her life while the rapist roams the street freely, smiling, laughing and perhaps looking for the next victim.
In a webinar supported by Media Women Forum,(MWF) some young girls/teenagers shared pathetic stories of their unfortunate experiences. They cried out that they were victims of rape. One of the victims pathetically said she took her plea to the door of law but she was mocked and ridiculed, “I was ridiculed and laughed at instead. I cry alone in darkness and sorrow,” she said.
The other victim said, “what can I do? I am nobody and I am helpless and the law is not helping me. How do I get the justice I deserve? Where do we go from here?”
Another victim said she was beaten and refused the right to cry. Her story was that her rapist always told her to close her eyes because he wanted to pray for her. “Then, he would begin to touch me all over my body. Whenever I reported to my mother, she was not happy about it but she warned me against speaking out. It’s more painful seeing the man walking about freely,”
Another young girl was raped by her uncle. “I cried that I don’t want to do it. I also cried that it hurt me but he wouldn’t listen. It hurts as if I was going to die.
“My parents shut me up, saying that I should never say that about my uncle again. My mum called me mischievous and stinking thing. Do you want my husband to chase me out of the house?”
Another mother told her daughter that it is a man’s world but she as a woman will live with the scar for the rest of her life. “Don’t ever say that about your relative. He is a man. Whatever he does will be viewed as trendy but you as a woman, are weak and it will remain a scar for the rest of your life.” She added pitifully and resignedly, “take heart my daughter,that is the true nature of men.”
To curb this menace, Bagudu said it has become imperative to engage traditional rulers, religious leaders, legislators, men in creating awareness against gender based violence, while calling for immediate solutions.
She stated this while speaking at a webinar organised by the Media Women Forum tagged ” Covid 19 Implications: Mitigating the Effects on Gender Based Violence.
Bagudu added that her administration will continue to advocate for the passage and implementation of state laws on gender based violence.
Diginitaries who participated in the webinar included the first lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun; Queen of Apomu Kingdom, Olori Janet Afolabi; Former Director of NIMASA, Lami Tumaka; Director, Lagos State Ministry of Information, Toro Oladapo; Ace broadcaster, Moji Makanjuola and other notable media personalities.

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