BREAK YOUR SILENCE AND GO FOR JUSTICE – LEGAL PRACTITIONER TELLS RAPE VICTIMS
Experts in fighting Gender based violence have called on rape Survivors to pursue prosecution to a logical conclusion to serve as a deterrent to others. They made their views known to Correspondent Chinelo Phil-Opara, who in this Special report examined the continuous rise in the incidence of rape and defilement in the country.
The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines rape as an action to force somebody to have sex with someone who do not want to, by threatening or using violence. It is also defines as a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without the persons consent.
This might be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, especially who is unconscious, incapacitated, has intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. UNICEF reported in 2015 that one in every four girls and one in every ten boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age eighteen.
According to a Survey by Positive Action for Treatment Access, over 31.4 percent of girls said their first sexual encounter had been through rape or forced sex of some kind. The Center Manager Enugu State Government Tamar Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Miss Evelyn Onah, said non persecution of perpetrators of the act had kept rape and defilement on the increase.
“Rape issue will continue till we stop blaming the survivors, the issue about rape is not about passion but power, we are doing everything to ensure perpetrators are convicted,’’ Miss Onah noted.
Though rape can occur to both genders, that of the female is more rampart. Rape is triggered by factors including idleness and drugs. Survivors of rape say it destroys the dignity of a woman.
“I am a girl of thirteen year old if I’m sleeping at night my brother will come and wake me and start touching me and having sex with me, I’m not feeling happy about that, when I wake up I will not greet him, I will not greet anybody living in the compound and also in the school except our teacher, I want you to help me to lock him up,” one of them cried out.
Another victim said “I am seventeen years old my father is fingering me, what I will consider as justice is for him to be locked up for three years,” she begged for help. What is the general perception of people on rape?
Two persons who didn’t what their names mentioned shared their views about rape.
One of them stated, “Rape is very bad anyone that commits this should be taken to court and handled very well. Another described rape as “something that creates a deep cut on someone; it takes only the grace of God to heal.”
A Lawyer with the Ministry of Justice Enugu, Mrs. Ngozi Okoye, said a lot of victims still shy away from going for justice because of stigmatization, family and community pressure to settle outside the court.
According to the legal practitioner, “In cases where they report, you find out that perpetrator’s family will be involved, practically the whole community will put so much pressure on the victims and complainant to ensure they drop the charge.”
Mrs. Okoye stated that no meaningful progress would be made in the fight against rape unless victims and survivors break their silence and go for justice.