Rape and incest case make headlines in Nigeria daily – it is just another news to read. If the victim is a minor such as recent case of a school teacher Adeniran Adebayo who raped his ten year old primary four pupil inside the school toilet – because of his name, Nigerians are able to tell which tribe he belongs so after we pitied and prayed for the victim whose innocent childhood has just been taken away, tribal abuse-trading starts. And in no time we all lose the focus of what is very important social problem we needed to collectively find solution to. Adeniran, like many pedophiles on our streets today in no time joins the crowd on our streets.
As we have learnt from the case of Jimmy Savile in the UK. Pedophiles and rapists are charming and sometimes well liked people because they are chameleon, usually work where they envisage lots of victims, young children are most targeted especially in schools and religious gatherings and of course the hardcore rapists can not be contained, they strike anywhere.
Adeniran’s victim – the poor little girl was only asked about her ordeal by the police officer. Adeniran who is older and more experienced in the business of taking advantage of young girls has time to make up stories. No physical assessment by the medical doctor to disproof the girls claim so the court based their judgement on Adeniran’s tale, and that was enough for court to grant a quick bail in the sum of ₦300k (about $1,800) leaving his pupil and her family behind to pick the pieces of the childhood.
As barbaric as rape case in Nigeria is, what I find most damaging at the moment is we are not doing much to prevent reoccurrences as the rapists get off lightly. In most cases, rapist wouldn’t even make it to the police station.
Traditionally in Nigeria, across all tribes we have large families – very common for a family of six to use one bedroom this is regardless of age or gender differences. In Nigeria, children stay at home well into their adult years. Given the huge economic disparity between the few rich and majority poor in the country, this family setting is inevitable. Most incest case that I hear when I was growing up were swept under the carpet because talking about it will bring shame to the family’s name – no consideration for the victims.
Social media is playing significant role exposing rape cases and pedophile in our society. They have always being there but most victims are too scared of societal rejection to report. Today despite the fact that we hear and read about it all the time, it is not to say that perpetrators were served justice accordingly. In fact in Nigeria – it is another money making venture for the courts, the courts charge exorbitant amount of money for bail and the victim is left to deal with the aftermaths psychological side effects and peer group rejection.
How do we best protect the most vulnerable ones from getting caught in the trap of pedophilia ring such as Adeniran in our society? I guess we need to face the reality that pedophile existed in our midst and have been getting away with their evil deeds for long time. Getting these perpetrators in the open is a good start, however releasing them back in the community is not the best because they will do it again unless they are locked up or made to pay severely for their offences.
Growing up in a small town, and being one of five girls, I thought my father was overly protective. Sometimes it felt a bit too much. My parents did a great job. However, they were not always with me. Now looking back I realise that many Nigerian parents were so protective of their girls because they are determined to prevent them from the preying monsters in our society.
Wouldn’t be a lot easier to educate children appropriate to the age on the limit in which they could trust any adults around them be it family or people in authority such as teacher and religious leaders?
I remember a commotion in my neighbourhood long ago of an Igbo man who molested his daughter for years, the girl’s mother had passed away at the time. It was a big deal, the neighbours dragged him to the police station. Baba Dele as he was called showed no hint of remorse, his excuse? He was the father and could do whatever he liked to his daughter. I remember him coming back to the community shortly after his arrest. Dele went away somewhere to give birth and I never returned. We gave Baba Dele a nickname but he did not care.
In my village, I remember a case of a teenager – Beatriz. She and I were age mate at the time. She was gang-raped by four boys in the village. I love my village but some realities are a bit too sour to swallow sometimes. No one knew about what happened because the village is quite small and the fact that the embarrassment and rejection fall on the victim made the case go under the carpet. It was only when Beatriz was pregnant and people were curious about who the father was that she narrated her ordeal to the elders – nothing like DNA testing so poor little girl has no one to claim her – all of the boys were quite young and none of their parents was ready to take on the responsibility of a grandchild they weren’t sure was theirs. Esther the little girl was named still lives knowing no father.
– Rapists and child molesters come in all tribes within Nigeria, let’s be honest and have one voice on this so the perpetrators have no hiding place.
– Incest is real, happens in all tribes in Nigeria due to large family members squeezing in a tiny bedroom especially when teenagers were involved. Money may be tight but we can find creative ways to prevent incest happening rather than making unfounded assumptions.
– Parents educate your little girls about adult strange inappropriate behaviour and encourage them to be bold and speak out loud against such perpetrators. Girls especially from young age would love to talk to their mothers about their days – mothers give your girl a chance to open up to you before it’s too late.
– Men need to take active role in this as well. Make it uncool for your mates to make inappropriate remarks about young girls. Remember if you are neutral and don’t speak up it translates that you are in agreement with the digesting habits.