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Opinion

Rape: Nigeria’s troubling problem

The alarming rate at which rape and sexual violence cases are been recorded in Nigeria in the past week is a point of concern. Rape and sexual violence against young girls and women seem to be the fast-rising crime at the moment even when the country is battling the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is disheartening that many girls in Nigeria today lose their virginity through rape at a very young age. More worrisome is that some of the perpetrators of this evil act do not only rape their victims but also murder them.

First, 16-year-old, Tina Ezekwe, was killed by a stray bullet by a policeman on duty who was arresting a driver who broke lockdown curfew rules.

Next was Jennifer who was ganged raped by  5 men after Kaduna after she was lured with a little amount of money.

As if this was not enough, Nigerians received another very shocking news of the rape and murder of Uwaila Omozuwa in a church was in Benin.

Uwaila Omozuwa was a 100 level student of Microbiology at the University of Benin, Edo State. She never saw death coming her way when she headed to the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in her usual practice to read her books. Sadly, she was not only raped but gruesomely murdered inside the church.

A week after her story came to light, another girl known as Barakat Bello in Ibadan suffered the same fate. Barakat, a first-year National Diploma student at the Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Ibadan was murdered after she was raped.

The Science Laboratory undergraduate was said to have been the only one at home at the time of the incident. She was met in her pool of blood by her brother who just returned from Quranic classes.

According to her mother, Barakat was the family’s hope in the future.

“My daughter told me she was going to do so many things for me, but now they didn’t allow her to do anything for me before they cut her life short.”

A few days after Barakat’s death was another murder of a postgraduate student at the University of Ibadan, Azeezat Somuyiwa was found dead after she was said to have been murdered. Azeezat, the 29-year-old lady, was an expectant mother who was seven months pregnant before she was killed. How sad!

Ever since then, the country has continued to witness the report of several cases of rape of young girls. It is disturbing that many cases of this nature are now been recorded daily in Nigeria.

Women and girls can no longer walk the street freely without fear of been sexually harassed, but to be honest, when could they ever? Young girls are not safe with male relatives, uncles, and even their own fathers. Sadly, children hawkers are not left out, they fall victim as well.

According to a UNICEF report in 2015, “One in four girls and one in 10 boys under age 18 are victims of sexual violence.”

It is highly commendable that individuals, organizations, civil society groups, as well as student bodies in Nigeria, are protesting and agitating for justice for the murdered victims and also advocating that rape should end.

Most importantly, Civil Societies, NGOs and others should assist in the proper re-orientation of the teeming Nigeria youths on qualitative sex education to reduce the menace of rape to the barest minimum.

In the past, justice has not really been served as most perpetrators of this evil act are left to go scot-free. Our judicial system should up its game in making sure rape cases are not delayed unnecessarily and ensure justice is served appropriately.

The government, at all levels, should join hands to wage war against the scourge of rape in the country. Stiffer punishment should be legalized as punishment for rapists to serve a deterrent to others.

The Police need to discharge their duties well, investigate any reported case thoroughly and ensure justice is served.

Victims of rape should also be encouraged to speak up and report abuse and not continue to suffer in silence.

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