Sudden increase in rape cases involving minors in recent time, has become worrisome, to say the least. This situation, many say, is the effect of a long cultural practice in most of our traditions that include sexual myths and the silence associated with rape. But with technology and social media especially, things are taking a turn for the better. In this report, Beatrice Gondyi, looks at rape and how it is perceived in Bauchi State, considering the enlightenment that technology and a few examples bring.
Nine year old Aisha was running an errand outside her home when Bello accosted her and forcefully had carnal knowledge of her. Zainaba was 13 and on her way back from school when she met the same fate at the hands of Ibrahim. In Hadiza’s own case, she was 26 and just as different as the age range, she was ambushed by three men who defiled her. In yet another instance, though she was only nine years old, Najima Sani suffered at the hands of 55-year-old Ibrahim Mohammed, a man old enough to be her grandfather, who lured her into an uncompleted building and forced himself on her, violating and scaring her for life.
These are just a few examples of the many molestation women of all ages go through in the hands of depraved men, every day.
Until very recent, the word rape used to be one that was considered a taboo even for use in a sentence. It was unheard of since the act is shameful and no one wanted to be associated with it. But these days, rape and raping children by men who are old enough to be the victim’s grandfathers, has become the order of the day. What makes it worse is that rape is no longer limited to strangers taking advantage of girls put in their care, but has grown to include fathers raping their daughters on the one hand, and close family members too, including brothers, raping female members of their family repeatedly.
This is all happening in the face of the stigma that stays with victims who are most of the time, forced to conceal the crime so that they can be saved from the shame and public embarrassment that comes with rape. The concealing part is the reason many perpetrators continue this heinous crime. For them, when a man rapes a girl and it goes public, she and her family are marginalised because of the dishonour associated with rape.
‘‘Rape cases are hard to report because of its sensitive and technical nature,’’ said Amina Garuba, a senior Magistrate with the Bauchi State Judiciary. “Apart from the stigmatisation that comes with rape, there are many other reasons people would rather not report rape. When you talk about rape involving minors especially, you find out that most of the perpetrators are either family members, close friends or acquaintances. And because there is a kind of trust that has been built and they know the child, when such a thing happens, many people try to convince the victim to not go to court because of the relationship.
‘‘Another thing is stigma. Many families will not want their name dragged in the mud especially if the girl involved is a child. The parents of the child are first of all, worrying about the child’s future and wondering who would marry her. They’d also be thinking about other members of the family and how they can protect the name of the family from shame.
Like it is in most parts of the country, she said rape cases are on the increase in Bauchi State.
“When we talk about statistics, I’m not able to give the exact figure, but it appears that rape is increasing and my view is that it really is.’’
This, she attributed to the fact that people now talk openly about rape and are choosing to fight for themselves and for others instead. ‘‘We are getting to know about it easier now because of social media and technology. Before now, many people didn’t have access to ways of reporting the case especially if they are not directly involved. But these days, others too, who witness it one way or the other, can take pictures and once it is posted online, it is there for everyone to see.”
In his own view, the executive director of Prison Inmate Development Initiative, PIDI, in Bauchi, Mbami Iliya Sabka, says cases of rape involving minors in the state is difficult to prosecute because of the many challenges which include the lack of proper investigation and unwillingness on the part of victims to prosecute.
“We are aware of cases involving minors in the state and as an organisation, we have documented many cases and petitioned the commissioner of police to see that the perpetrators are apprehended and punished appropriately. We know of not less than 20 cases and all are awaiting trial. It is not our duty to prosecute but that of the police so we have handed the cases over to them. I think there are challenges in terms of prosecution of people with criminal cases in Bauchi State. People do not report such cases. Most of the time they say it is family issue and should be settled out of court. It is only those who want the case to proceed that actually prosecute. Sometimes lack of proper investigation from the police hinder the prosecution process, that is why people do not have confidence in the fact that offenders would actually be punished. The rape of minors is a trending issue here. Some perpetrators do it because of sexual urge while others do it because of one or two fetish beliefs.’’
Even lawyers are not left out of discriminating against rape victims. According one of them, he would not represent any rape victim whether they are guilty or not. He said no matter the amount of money he is given, he will never accept such a case because it is evil and since he has daughters, he cannot bear to think of such a thing happening to his daughters. He however agrees that men who rape at all and especially those who rape minors, do not deserve to be called men but animals.
For Henry James, a 52-year-old businessman, people caught in such acts must be made to face the consequences of their actions.
‘‘I think it is a crime committed by depraved people. People who are deranged in one form or the other. They are usually low esteemed or have inferiority complex. I will definitely prosecute such persons and l advice government prosecutes anyone that rapes another person.’’
A visit to the remand home in the state where minors who break the law are kept, revealed that even under aged boys are also raping young girls. For instance, Adamu Hassan, from Arawa village in Kirfi local government area of the state, is there for attempting to rape a 10-year-old girl. Hassan said he waylaid his victim at a narrow passage but before he could have his way with her, she was rescued by passers-by. He has been remanded since July last year. He however expressed remorse and says he regrets his actions and will never attempt such.
Another accused, Bashiru Abubakar, who is also in the remand home is a young boy of 12 who was a member of a four man gang accused of rape, kidnap and theft. He said this was his first time of kidnapping a woman. Hße however denied raping her.
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