Whether worldwide or locally, our world is rapidly changing before our eyes, and the social transformation accompanying it is often painful.
Almost every day, we hear of different forms of violence, that we often seem to forget one that happens every day and in fact almost every minute – RAPE.
What is RAPE?
Rape is any form of unwanted sexual behaviour that is imposed on someone. It could take several forms: physical harassment, verbal abuse, threats, unwanted touching, being forced to watch pornography, incest, mutilation, ritual abuse just to mention a few. It is when someone uses their power, manipulation (especially financial) or force to intimidate, humiliate, exploit, degrade or control another into having unwanted or involuntary sex.
From our homes, to our schools to the streets and under the ‘bridges’ this menace rocks us all and it is taking its deleterious effects on the affected individuals and inherently the society. The current rate of rape is so alarming as such that in some parts of the world, a girl is more likely to be raped than to learn how to read, while globally, up to 7 out of 10 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes. It gets even worse when about 5 in 100 women also get sexually abused while pregnant. And yet, this is probably just the beginning.
This is not to say that only women are victims of rape, as statistics shows that women are also responsible for about 1% of total rape cases. But the emphasis here is on the females as they are the common victims.
IS THE SOCIETY DOING ENOUGH TO END (OR AT LEAST REDUCE) THIS MENACE?
In 1995, at the 4th World Conference for Women, governments identified violence against women as a violation of human rights, and even the third millennium development goal seeks to promote gender equality and empower women. But have these promises been met?
It is saddening to know that today, 18 years after that conference, rape is not considered an offence in more than 35 countries and many more countries do not have stringent punishments against rape (take Nigeria for example where the current punishment for a person convicted of rape is a fine of NGN50, 000 or 3 to 4 years in jail). Yet, over 630million women and girls live in these countries, and if unchecked, by the year 2020, over 140 million girls would have become child brides.
The effects of rape cannot be over emphasised, from teenage and unwanted pregnancies to increased rate of abortion, loss of womb, exposure to sexually transmitted diseases (currently, statistics have it that women who have been sexually abused are 3 times likely to be at the risk of HIV), and the psychological effect it has on the victims, some of which might never be healed, all have their negative effects on the society.
Gone are the days when criminals used to be adults, we now see young people between the ages of 15 and 25 mostly actively involved in crimes, especially sexually. This is so probably because a ‘rapist’ father impregnated an innocent lady who in turn gave birth unprepared to a son who she cannot train adequately, and this son also turns out to become another rapist. It is a chain that if unchecked would ruin the morals of the society.
MORE SHOULD BE DONE
Everyday women and girls get assaulted sexually at home, at work, in their shops, on their way to and from school, in school almost everywhere at any time. And as such calls for greater punishments against rapist and the protection of the rights of females should be made and enforced. One of such is the Act on violence against Persons (prohibition), a bill currently in the House of Representatives, which proposes that any man convicted of rape should be liable to life imprisonment, and persons convicted of gang raping any victim shall be liable jointly and severally to a minimum of 20 years imprisonment without an option of fine. If such laws are made and enforced, this menace of rape would reduce significantly.
NGO’s should also supplement the efforts of the government in trying to bring an end to this monster, parents too should take out time to sit their children down and educate them on the need to be sexually disciplined (for the male child) and sexually conscious of for the female child) of the effects of rape and pre-marital sex, as this would be a good step towards achieving a rape-free generation. The media too (social, print, digital/audio-visual) should also make campaigns against rape and rapists.
Rape is a crime and always the responsibility of whoever commits it. Let us all work together to save and protect our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters from this menace by making rapists unfit to live amongst us.
Time to get tough!!!!!
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