On paper, interest on rape cases is very high.
However, there remains a vast gap between information on rape and justice. Only very few victims have gone public about it.
Information about rape is only slightly better than nothing at all.
Recently, there was unison in the call for Nigeria’s judiciary to amend laws on rape to accommodate other sexual assaults as well as recognise abuse on male.
Speaking at the launch of a book on rape titled, It’s My Decision, held in Lagos, Uche Ikwueme, a legal practitioner, stressed the need to amend definition of rape in the constitution, as men are also victims.
“Under the Child Right Act, for it to be a rape, there must be sexual intercourse involved, our laws have to be expanded and amended to reflect the reality of today, penetration with other object must be included.
“These days, it is not only women that are raped, men too.
Boys are being raped daily, even in boarding schools, so, these laws need to be amended to capture other situations,” she explained.
The Odafe of Asaba, John Edozien, pleaded that Nigerians should develop interest in pursuing rape cases and stop believing that their voices won’t be heard.
He said by this, perpetrators could be punished.
“People lack the interest to pursue cases, because they believe it will not get anywhere so the issue is, how do we strengthen our institutions, what are our lawyers doing in this area of weakness?
“Rape is a terrible thing, so, its perpetrators should not be allowed to go unpunished.
A lot of the perpetrators have faced challenges and are not normal, they need treatment and that is part of the area we should emphasise in trying to cure this menace that is on the rise in the country,” he added.
The founder of the Mirabel Centre, Itoro Eze-Anaba, warned that there is a tendency of a survival becoming a rapist, urging parents and guardians to give necessary support to any child, who has undergone such traumatic experience.
She, however, stressed that rape cases should be handled by professionals, not church counselors who end up condemning the victims.
The author of the book, Ogechi Alabi, said though rape is a grievous crime against the victim, making people understand the implication of the act is more important.
Alabi revealed she wrote the book, because the plight of victims has to be felt and perpetrators made to see the damage they caused in the lives of others.
She said victims are not the villains, adding that for people to genuinely support a victim, they should help them through the healing process, which involves therapy and justice.
“I asked these questions on my social media page, Oge’s stories: Would you allow your son or brother to marry a lady that was raped?
If your child conceives from rape, would you allow her have the baby?
Would you allow your wife, sister or sister-in-law keep a child conceived from rape?
Would you love the child regardless of the circumstance of its birth? The responses showed how people empathise with victims,” she said.
It’s My Decision depicts the life of a young lady, Amaka, who goes through trauma, sorrow, joy, happiness, love, disappointment, sadness, wrong decisions, rediscovery, and finally, happiness.
She is raped by a friend and she takes up matter in the law court.
Pressure is mounted on her to drop the case by her extended family, but she refuses to be intimidated and fights on. With the support and encouragement from Bimbo, she is able to get justice.