Culture READ

Dismantling the Sexual Assault Culture in Nigeria

*Trigger Warning* This post deals with sexual assault and crimes committed against children. The culture of rape and assault in Nigeria is one that has been spoken about a lot online and now, for Sistem Magazine, our contributor Chi Chi demands justice

There has been an alarming increase in the incidence of reported gender-based violence in my homeland Nigeria. I want to share my thoughts as to why I think that sexual assault/rape is so rife and rampant not only in Nigeria but globally as a whole.

Firstly, there seems to be an element of entitlement from men when it comes to women and the autonomy we have over our bodies. This entitlement results in blatant disregard for our boundaries and consent. As in, no means no! If you cannot hear a solid yes please don’t proceed and respect their wishes simple as that.

Secondly, it has never sat well with me the fact that young girls are overly sexualised beyond our years as a means to control our sexuality. This same hyper sexualisation manifests in various forms from telling young girls to cover up when older male guests/relatives visit policing what young girls wear at school to avoid distracting male students/teachers. This also contributes to sick paedophiles to sexually assault young girls (like Farashina) which is further encouraged by the fact that the age of consent is 11 – this is abhorrent. I feel like this contributes to labelling young victims by labelling them as “fast” similar to the R Kelly case even though he was a fully grown man. This particular incidence of victim-blaming triggers me because I was sexually assaulted by a “family friend” when I was 10 whilst he was 17. Was I the child at fault? I think not. It’s an ordeal that I suppressed in my mind for a long time but I only came to the realise action that it was assault a few years ago.

Busola Dakolo faced persecution for publicly accusing a pastor of rape

Unfortunately, you would think the church will be a safe haven from such heinous acts however it is just as rampant (the cases of Busola Dakolo and Uwavera Omozuwa (RIP)). It is about time for religious leaders to be held accountable and to stop protecting and harbouring these predators by standing in blind solidarity whilst exiling brave survivors who speak up! And also please STOP infiltrating your sermons with underlying misogynistic messages which again place the onus on women to be responsible to prevent the predatory actions that some men choose to willingly exhibit such as women being held accountable for ensuring that men don’t fall into lust by being mindful and careful of how we dress/act (a manipulation of Matthew 5:28).
Women DO NOT have to be more mindful to accommodate for any potential shortcomings/crimes of men. Sadly, some of the men of Nigeria have shown themselves up on social media by questioning what the victim was doing/wearing and other ridiculous suggestions that could have prevented the sexual assault/murder. You hardly ever see anyone blame a victim for getting robbed so why does society jump at the opportunity to blame sexual assault victims?

The story of Uwavera Omozuwa went global when she was raped and murdered in a church in Nigeria

I believe in Nigeria, the lack of convictions of sexual assault is due to negligence and incompetence of the police force. According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics in 2017, there were 0 convictions despite there being 2,279 reported cases of rape/indecent assault. But why wouldn’t that occur when some officers even partake in such heinous acts (such as the incident in Abuja last year with women being detained in custody). Let us not forget the fact that the police are easily swayed with monetary compensation/bribes to carry out the job that they trained to do. This is extremely problematic as this can lead to the very same body that trained to protect and serve to extort families trying to seek justice for their family members. This has to end and I genuinely hope that the Nigerian Police Force actions speak louder than their Twitter post to tackle gender-based violence!

All in all, there needs to a change in Nigeria expeditiously because gender-based violence and sexual assault simply cannot go on anymore. I pray that all families get justice and these perpetrators need to serve time for their crimes!

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