In recent times, cases of rape have become so common in Nigeria that it is nearly impossible to go for a day without hearing of a new one.
Most of these rape cases are carried out by someone who may be known to the victims, and majority of them go unreported.
Regrettably, even those reported are not properly prosecuted as culprits are allowed to go Scot-free, giving room for cases to keep rising.
The after-effect of rape can be both physical and psychological, leaving a lasting mark on victims, families and communities.
A victim of rape narrates her ordeal.
“I was sent to buy something. In the house where the thing is being sold, there is gate man there. That day, the person selling the thing was not around, so the gate man now called me. I now went there, and he started touching me. I warned him to stop but he ignored me and forced himself on me.
“I was scared to tell my auntie. I did not tell anybody till I got pregnant. The gate man denied being responsible, but after being arrested, he accepted. We keep thinking about it. Well, nothing can change it. It has already happened.”
A legal practitioner, Nurani Suleiman noted that victims of rape and parents make prosecution difficult by lack of cooperation.
“Instead of cover this thing because of the stigma, victims should be bold enough to come out and give evidence in the court, submit themselves for medical test because these are the things that will boost their case.”
Mr Suleiman appealed to Nigerians to stop stigmatizing rape victims but lend their support towards ensuring that rape was brought to a minimal level.
A member of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, Victoria Ibezube called for the right advocacy to help address issues. She also called for attitudinal change on the part of law enforcement agencies.
“In some district police stations, they don’t really respond as and when due. When you get to the bottom of these matters, most of the times, many of them will tell you that it is a domestic affair, that it is something that can even be settled out of the police station, and all of that which is not a good sign that police people actually involve with these children.”
The Force Public relations officer, Mr Moshood Jimoh while stressing that rape is a criminal offense called on Divisional Police Officers to rise up to the occasion and ensure proper prosecution of all rape cases.
Mr Moshood also appealed to parents to entrust the care of their wards only to trusted persons and educate them on such issues.