Silence, an abetting culture
Sir: Statistics shows that 24.8 percent of females experience sexual abuse before they reach the age 18 out of which 5.0 percent reach out for help and only 3.5 percent receives any services. Silence in sexual harassment and rape cases is a vogue that has been built over the years but seems to be crumbling little by little in this new day and age.
According to the criminal law code of Lagos, harassment is described as any unwelcomed sexual advance or request for sexual favour and other visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that affects a person’s academic or employment opportunity and creates a hostile working environment. Rape is a type of sexual assault involving penetration performed without that persons’ consent.
There have been a number of known and unknown cases of sexual assault and rape in Nigeria despite the punishment of three years’ imprisonment. The explosive story of Bukola Dakolo being allegedly raped by Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of Commonwealth Of Zion Assembly (COZA) at the age of 17 is a real life example of the power of silence over victims. It took her 17 years to finally come out and voice out her experience amidst the backlash from people.
There are different reasons for the birth of silence among victims one of which is, victims feeling inconsequential compared to their rapists or harasser. Victims believe that they are powerless and not important next to their offenders and that suppresses their voices. Research shows that 995 perpetrators out of every 1000 sexual assaulters will walk free, this is a source of the feeling of insignificance among victims, some ask; “What’s the point of reporting the issue if action won’t be taken?” “What’s the point of reporting the issue if I’m going to be ignored?”
Another problem is the insolent behaviour of the Nigeria Police Force. According to an article by Amnesty International women who were rescued from the terrorist group, Boko Haram, suffer more from the police officers that rescued them. Some of these women become rape victims while in the custody of the police officers.
Rape is a rampant problem not just happening in Nigeria but around the world. It has been proven that in every two minutes someone somewhere in the United States is being raped. This issue doesn’t take place in homes alone but also in work places as well. More than eight per cent of rapes and sexual harassment happen in work places. Most times, workers feel scared to report cases of sexual harassment based on inferiority complex.
It seems impossible and hard for victims to come out and tell their story (but that is the best decision they can make), silence doesn’t stop the pain. Justice does.
And it is important for parents and guardians to watch their children carefully and also ask questions if they notice behavioural changes such as, isolation (because isolation can be a product of sexual assault). Also, they should teach their children to report to them immediately if they experience any form of sexual harassment.
Eniola Abigail Alalade wrote from Babcock University.
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