In the last one week, I have come across an alarming number of reports detailing shocking incidents of rape in Nigeria. And weirdly, these incidents tend to follow a similar trend: the culprits are usually older men who show immense pride in their conquest until caught red-handed; they are not very apologetic when caught either; most of them are ugly looking and unattractive classless men; the victims are young and innocent girls/boys; and most disconcertingly, it is never the first time for these men.
The most recent was the one I stumbled upon online just a few hours ago.
A man, Haruna Shauibu, 35, was caught defiling a five-year-old orphan. Now, the annoying part is that the girl was quickly taken to the hospital for treatment, while the man was arraigned in court. Court! Unbelievable. What exactly is there to judge if the man was caught in the act? He should have been taken to the hospital as well for treatment! He should have undergone surgery where the nerves to his penis would be severed so he is unable to achieve an erection or experience any pleasure from the organ. It is a simple operation that can be carried out under local anaesthetics and the penis will be left completely and permanently numb.
My question is, why do these men who commit these heinous offences still have their balls intact? Because of how lenient the punishment for rapists in Nigeria is, a rapist knows they can technically get away with it over and over again.
Furthermore, potential rapists know their sentence won’t be harsh, so they will be thinking of that when they go after their victim, knowing they’ll get sympathy and their victim will likely be blamed. Yes, we live in a victim-shaming society where somehow, it’s the victim’s fault depending on whatever they were wearing, if they were drinking, or if they ‘led the rapist’ on etc. I find this so disgusting.
Rape is a violation of the body, and a traumatic one at that – it’s a shameful act that can leave the victim scarred for life. A rapist, if it even gets that far (a vast majority of them walk free and even less get arrested and tried in court) only gets about 14 years in prison with or without caning ( Section 359 of the Criminal Code). That’s a joke, and not a funny one, considering the gravity of the offence.
Why can’t Nigeria be more like other countries in matters such as this?
The Indian government recently approved the death penalty for convicted rapists of girls under the age of 12, amid a groundswell of public outrage following the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl. Saudi Arabia has one of the strictest laws against rape in the world. They consider rapists great offenders and punish them by sedating and publicly beheading them within a few days of the trial; China is also really strict towards rapists as it punishes them with a death sentence and in some cases, by damaging the genitals…but Nigeria leave it to the police who may just take a bribe and let the culprit walk away…only for him to go abuse another victim.
Sure, there are different types of rape: those that are accomplished by force or threat of force, the ones that happen while the victim is intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness or incoherence, the variant where the victim consented and was fully conscious but had impaired judgement due to voluntary intoxication, “date rape” where the culprit drugs and rapes a person against his or her will, non-forcible rape of a person of any age with profound mental disabilities, non-forcible rape of an adult by people in positions of authority over their “victims” and the rape of a child by an adult (the child can’t consent)… but in all, the culprit makes the decision to rape, they chose to violate someone and they need to face the consequences of their actions and if that means being more harsh, so be it.
You can steal, you can destroy, you can sell drugs…but raping somebody, disrespecting their privacy, making a stamp on their future,, causing the victim to hate him/herself and never being able to feel comfortable with his/her body and mind…this ought to be punished with the same consequences that the culprit has caused the victim.
Even if the vicitim undergoes years of counselling and group therapy with trauma specialists, they still will never be the same again.