Nigeria, Misogyny and Rape

Opinion

I initially wanted to make this a comment, in response to Fumni O’s article, but it was becoming too long; so I felt an article is in order. First, I would like to thank Fumni O for that beautiful article and I appreciate her response to the rebuttals of the TNC community on her article.…

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I initially wanted to make this a comment, in response to Fumni O’s article, but it was becoming too long; so I felt an article is in order.

First, I would like to thank Fumni O for that beautiful article and I appreciate her response to the rebuttals of the TNC community on her article. You are indeed a blessed soul.

Your expose on consent reads like something forged on Olympus.

For all those who denounced rape under any circumstance… Blessing to you all.

But first things first, rape is rape. In a culture as patriarchal as Nigeria, rationalizing rape would only lead to victim blaming.

Whether a girl decides to walk around naked, or she takes a stroll at 12 midnight, she should feel safe. If she is raped, it is exactly that, and should be treated as such. Whether it is a crime to walk around naked – as some states have laws against indecent exposure – or it is unsafe to take a stroll in that neighbourhood at 12 midnight is beside the point. In the first case the girl may be reprimanded for breaking the law regarding indecent exposure; while in the second case, it is practically an indictment of the State, who promised to protect its citizens’ life and property.

This does not water down the infernal nature of the injustice done to that girl in any way.

When Jack Ruby, killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who killed J.F. Kennedy, he was arrested, tried and sentenced to death. In the eyes of some, killing the killer of an American president is a pretty heroic thing to do, but that did not stop the American government from issuing him a death sentence. So he may well be a hero, but he is a murder and must be treated as such.

So maybe the girl was wrong in the law’s eye to walk around naked – and she is only wrong if it is a crime by the constitution of the land too walk around naked – but that doesn’t in any way give anyone the right to rape her, or indemnify the perpetrator of such, from his heinous crime, or reduce the intensity of his crime as killing an American president did not give Ruby the right to kill Oswald, or indemnify him of that crime.

In a country that uses rape as a weapon of oppression and torture, rationalizing it one bit makes the story worthless, in the sight of many Nigerians. The Sugarbelly saga is proof of this.

Many of us do not understand what it means when we say Nigeria has an inherent misogynistic culture of rape and abuse. It is only because we have been so desensitized to it. I mean, when the headlines show: “A 23 year old woman was raped on campus by a group of boys as she was walking to her hostel from class at 2am”, the next thought of a Nigerian – educated or not – is “what was she doing on the road at 2am”. It never comes to the consciousness of this people that this woman was violently abused or is going through serious trauma. No, it never does. The best you get is “I know rape is bad, but she should have known better”.

On 25th of January 2013 , the latest poll results released by NOI Polls Limited, revealed that almost 3 in 10 Nigerians admitted to personally knowing someone who has been a victim of rape; citing stigmatization as the main reason why many rape cases go unreported

Here is how the NOI polls website describes the poll:

The poll conducted on January 22nd 2013… across the six geo-political zones of the country…

In the light of the recent rape case in India, which has sparked widespread series of protests against rape across India and further campaigns for women’s rights in several countries, including Nigeria; NOI Polls has sought the opinion of Nigerians regarding the prevalence, and causes, of rape in the country, as well as solutions on how to curb the incidence of rape.

The respondents to the poll were asked six questions, but I would like to show the analysis of a few questions asked and how they were answered by the respondents.

Respondents were asked: Do you personally know anyone that has been a victim of rape? Curiously, almost 3 in 10 (29%) respondents admitted to personally knowing someone who had been a victim of rape; with the majority (68%) stating that they did not personally know any victim; while 3% refused to answer the question.

Furthermore, in view of the debate that often arises about the cause(s) of rape in the society respondents were asked the following: What do you think is the prevalent cause of rape in the society? From the result, the majority of respondents (34%) were of the opinion that the most prevalent cause of rape in the society is “Indecent dressing”; followed by 18% of respondents that cited “Unemployment”. Also, “Lack of moral values” and the “Inability to control sexual urge” were each cited by 9% of the respondents as the prevalent cause of rape. Other reasons mentioned by respondents include “Faulty upbringing” (7%), “Ungodliness”, “Illiteracy about women rights” and “Bad Company” (all with 5%).

It is worth noting that this question was open-ended, allowing respondents to provide spontaneous responses. It is therefore worrisome that the majority (34%) of respondents attributed the prevalent cause of rape to indecent dressing. This finding throws some light on a recent article by Amaka Okafor-Vanni in the Guardian newspaper UK titled “Nigeria has a rape culture too”. In the article, the author argued that if the India rape incident had taken place in Nigeria, nothing would have been done about it. Stressing that societal values suggest that a lady “… must be told what to wear (or not wear) to limit the exposure to the men and when she doesn’t conform, and is assaulted or arrested, then she is responsible. In other words, if a woman’s body is visible, it ought to be available for sex or punished for this visibility.”

Respondents were also asked: Do you agree that the majority of rape cases in Nigeria go unreported? To this question about 8 in 10 Nigerians (79%) agree that the majority of rape cases in Nigeria go unreported. Only 15% of the respondents do not agree that the majority of rape cases in Nigeria go unreported, while 6% refused to respond.

Consequently, respondents who agreed that the majority of rape cases in Nigeria go unreported (79% of the total) were asked the fifth question: Why do you think the majority of rape cases go unreported? Interestingly, the majority of respondents (36%) said it’s because “Victims do not want to be stigmatised” followed by 29% who think it’s because “Families try to avoid disgrace”.  Furthermore, 16% think it’s because “Families believe justice can’t be achieved”, 9% say that “Victims are often blamed” and 5% think that “Victims are mostly traumatised”. 

According to this poll, about 46 million Nigerians know a victim of rape; Over 54 million Nigerians think the cause of rape is indecent dressing – the highest, by far on the list; over a 126 milli0n Nigerians agree that majority of the cases go unreported; and some wonder why there have been only 18 convicted cases.

I would like t0 briefly discuss the “ABSU5 rape case” that many of us know about.

The name ABSU is an acronym for “Abia State University”, and 5, represents the five boys, purported to be students of that university. These boys raped a girl, made a video of the ordeal and uploaded to the internet. They all took turns to rape this girl and all her pleading fell on deaf ears.

Like I said earlier on, Nigerians are very much desensitized to the injustices done to their women. In the aftermath of the infernal act, the University’s student’s body took to the streets to protest, which one would expect, but the reason for the protest could only be defined as uncanny.

It was not for the kind of indignation caused to the girl, but that their university was being libelled, by ‘evil’ rivals. They were angry their school was said to be the location of the diabolical crime. Nobody expressed disdain at the grotesque act committed on the girl. Not even the girls in the school rebuked what happened to the victim or showed repugnance for such an act instead they were bothered about their school’s image.

It gets interesting. The Vice-Chancellor of the University claimed that “the gang-raping of a student did not happen in the institution” (simply because it didn’t happen within the confines of ABSU). So what? One is led to ask. Why did these people not express revulsion about this act for what it was? Apparently if the Chief executive of the school could be so passive, what would one expect from the student body?

The Abia State Police Commissioner said there was no report, thus the “police could not investigate an issue that was hypothetical and unfounded.” I mean there was visual evidence. What more could the police want? He even had the effrontery to say that the rape looked “consensual” and the girl looked like she might be enjoying it. How dare a top Police officer be so flippant about such an infernal crime?

Even the office of the state Governor said that the act was the handwork of a political rival to cause disrepute to their government.

Could everybody just stop talking about their reputations and dignity, and think of this act for one moment? One is forced to ask.

It was also said that the girl perhaps had offended the one of the boys and that boy might have assembled his friends to teach her a lesson of her life. So apparently according to these low lives there might just be a “good” reason to rape someone.

I hope many of us would rethink our stance on the issue of rape, and avoid raising academic arguments about how she should have known better to walk in the street at that time of the night or to have spent the night in the guy’s house, “didn’t she know he would do that”; or how she still went back to him after he raped her the first time.

In conclusion, it is true that some of the comments in response to Fumni O’s article actually carry water, regarding looking at the world how it, not as it ought to be and the issue of false accusations. But the truth is that these are fine details. There have only been 18 convicted rape cases and 3 out of 10 Nigerians know someone who has been raped – quite the non sequitur. It is obvious we have a long way to go. Facts from a rape investigation can be arrived at objectively, without the bias of victim blaming and slut shaming.

At least we are talking about it. Let’s tell boys not to rape, instead of telling girls not to get raped.

Image via Wonderslist

Responses

  1. moody
    It’s really sad when people start to argue semantics when human lives are involved, theses are lives not figures, the more we realize that theses are living breathing people like us, the more we become prone to compassion. It’s not about who or what she (sugarbelly) is, it’s about what was seemingly done to her. My primary school teacher says to never speak if you’ve got nothing right to say. Be humane
  2. Olayinka
    Wonderful exposition. Well researched and very apt of the true position of the perception of our society to the issue of rape and abuse generally. We quickly move on from it, much to the detriment of the victims and the society at large.
  3. booboo
    Well written, If everyone just stop blaming the victim and justice,done according, The rate of rapes and abuse would be minimal in the society
  4. Gio
    Ok. Rape is what it is, it’s rape and there’s no two ways about it,just saying its bad is taking the shine out of it, simply put its very bad and should be treated as such… I feel the problem persists cos of the low reported cases and should I say low conviction, whatever is the cause of both is always arguable but that besides the point. Bringing it to Nigeria, our view of things changes with more people saying the same thing, so this article is very valid and the need for articles of such cant be over emphasized. Nonetheless,the only positive I see in it is, emphasis will get the people in the “appropriate quarters” to do something about it. A lot of things will have to change before Nigeria becomes that place we all hope it would be, we are still a bit far from it. That’s why a lot of it comes down to the “prevention is better than cure” approach… People need to feel like they will get justice and at the same time support from home, friends, counsellors and the society at large . Strict laws should be made–more cases should be reported–justice should be served–cases will reduce.
  5. E

    Mehn!!! TNC na boss,d creator of dis site + writer of this post will live long…don’t know what 2 even say here,u just made my day wit this post…
    #2016Think&shout
  6. Funmi O
    Thanks for this Tee! Great article, especially the stats on cases. It’s a helpful dose of reality for the people who wonder why victims don’t report. If those figures don’t explain why many have such a defeatist attitude about rape & justice, I don’t know again.
  7. Gracey
    A step dad will rape his step daughter in fact scratch that, a man will rape his daughter (bloody demon) and the wife will say the girl tried to seduce him. This happened not too far from my house a long time ago and my ears and eyes almost bled. The response from individuals (Nigerians) is appalling. They blame the victim, leaving them more broken with no one to confide in. People will argue that a man cannot rape his wife. In my opinion, utter nonsense. Yes yes they say do not deny your partner his/rights, but common, are we animals? The issue of rape makes my blood boil.

    Epiphany29.com

    1. Tam
      Dear Gracey.
      A man can rape his wife. That is crime. It is not an opinion dear, it’s the law. Talk, about your partners rights is highfalutin hogwash.
      Once she doesn’t give consent or redraws consent any time, and the man continues, it is called rape.
  8. PRINCEWILL
    GOD! I so much love this TNC website………. Yal are doing A great job here…. WELDONE!!!!!!!!!!

    Nice one TEE, shout out to FUNMI for bringing it up too…….

    STOP JUSTIFYING THE REASON FOR THE HIDEOUS ACT……… There shouldn’t be any reason for #RAPE

    STOP RAPING GIRLS WHETHER OR NOT YOU SEE HER IN EVE’S DRESS CODE!!!!

  9. Nelo
    Rape is crazy. Those who choose to live after the experience must be strong. God have mercy. My recommendation of punishment for rapists is to have their organs cut off with a hot blunt knife. Let the pain go round.
  10. Dumo
    Dear God why didn’t u make me a law maker that passes bills of law cos the bill I will pass for rapists is first get a very strong gay to rape them through the anus, pass their penis through a red hot boiling ring and then still kill them by the firing squad. How i hate hearing cases of rape because the victims are the ones who suffer psychologically for years on end.
    1. Tee
      I would like to assume that you are kidding and just expressing frustration by the facts of the issue at hand. Please oooo, two wrongs don’t make a right.
  11. Oluwadolapo
    People that can commit such acts devoid of any empathy or sympathy should be culled from the human race.
    We need more compassion and respect for women.
    The lack of these things is what can allow someone to rationalize such a diabolical act.
    Even those that claim “an inability to control sexual urges”.
    Are you a bitch in heat?
    Go and get neutered to ba le to yen.

    On another note, I never hear cases of men getting raped and I’m sure it’s possible given that evil is not an exclusively male thing.
    What situations can qualify as a man being raped?

    1. Tee
      For the male side, mostly boys suffer. The law say full age is 18, therefore any one under 18 cannot give consent on many issues, whether the person is a 16year old teenager.

      Even if the elderly person older than 18 says the younger individual gave consent, the older individual is still culpable.

      When domestic employees force themselves on young boys, that’s rape.

  12. Ike
    Thank you for this article. It’s well written and enlightening. The next phase would be making this knowledge available to the public. Please share this post till it gets to people who need it. If our society could understand that nudity doesn’t justify rape, it helps us fight it holistically. In fact, even if the girl is naked and giving him a lap dance…..still not justified.
    For those who just said,”Ha! Body no be wood.” Body is wood.
    Society gives too much allowances to men, way too much. Society says stupid things like, “Men can’t handle seeing a naked girl, nature mandates that he HAS to relieve this sexual tension even if it means forcing himself on her”; “A man can be pardoned for cheating because it’s a little difficult to control their sexual urges, women on the other hand should never be pardoned”,”Men have mistresses, that’s what they do. They can’t help it. Just pray you don’t find out about it”
    Society, please shut it.
    Men have gotten pampered and have been reduced to creatures who can’t think or make decisions without the interference of their penises! Subsequently, we have stopped expecting much from them. When we hear about rape cases we think, hmmm, the man couldn’t help himself. What was she wearing? When we hear “mini skirt”, we say,” I knew it!” . Let’s expect higher standards from men. Let’s break this societal misconception and let’s raise our sons right. Please share this post.
  13. 5gramms
    Rape/abuse is not just using force and tearing the
    hymen of a minor. It could be winning the trust of a minor using
    lies and deception only to steal their innocence. Either way it
    involves taking what was never genuinely given.
    1. Tam
      Now a child cannot give consent. For children below the age of puberty it is called molestation or child sex abuse… A very severe crime. For a child above puberty is called un lawful sex with a minor… All these are serious crimes. It is that simple, any one under the age of 18 cannot give consent, and any act of this nature on a minor is rape.
  14. Desire
    This is so amazing I’m tearing up.

    People should understand that women have a right to choose what they should and shouldn’t wear.
    I’m female, and if I feel long skirts are cute and stylish, I’ll wear them. But if I feel short skirts are even cuter, I’ll wear those. If I feel I’d be more comfortable in underwear, I’ll wear that instead. And if I feel nudity is my kinda accessory, I’ll be in nothing but skins.

    YOU DO NOT FIX BULLYING BY TELLING THE BULLIED PERSON TO BE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. YOU TELL THE BULLIES TO STOP, DROP AND ROLL.

    YOU DO NOT STOP ANIMALS ATTACKING GARDENS BY TELLING FLOWER PETALS TO STOP BEING SO BRIGHT. YOU CONTROL THE DANG ANIMALS AND MAKE THEM GO AWAY.

    If I do not say yes you have no right, whatsoever, to even touch me. We need to stop blaming the victims for “Seducing the rapist” or “Not being where they were supposed to be.”
    Like the writer said, if there’s a crime for walking around nude or there’s a rule that prevents people from walking after dark, it’s not a justifiable reason to rape a person.
    Last time I checked, no crime is punishable by “Rape”.

  15. Desire
    Sorry, here again!

    A girl in my school gave a beautiful speech about rape once…
    …Well, it was beautiful till it got to the end.

    She spoke nothing of consent.
    Nothing.
    And even worse, these were her “Reasons for rape”:
    1. Wrong Company
    2. Immoral Dressing
    3. Immoral GESTURES.
    So she practically blamed the whole thing on the person being raped.
    What she basically meant was: “What do you expect when you exercise on your freedom of movement and dressing and expression? Candy? I think not! Rape is a great punishment for you innocent victims who did practically nothing at all. So be quiet and wear large, unflattering clothes even if you’re young and our weather is boiling point. Unless you’ll be raped, because we both know we can’t control the male libido.”
    And she is fifteen.
    I think everyone in my school truly believes that’s the truth. I try my best to enlighten SOME people, but others really don’t want to let go of outdated and destructive mentalities and cultures.
    Teachers never seem to mind me either. They’re all like “You’re fourteen! What would you know? You’ll understand when you’re older, dear.”
    But when is that? Before or AFTER I’m raped and blamed for it?

  16. Olulade Grace

    I had a friend whose neighbour tried to rape her under the pretext of coming to her room to borrow kitchen utensils. She fought hard and was able to overcome but couldn’t own up to people what really happened because the next response would be “why did she open her door at night?” I’m so sharing this post. We need serious renewing of the mindset about rape in Nigeria

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