Opinion

Rape as social hazard

By Adeparua Damilola

The rate at which rape is becoming rampant in the society is quite alarming. The most dreadful part of it is the fact that people do not get raped in confined places outside their homes these days, but right inside their homes by those who are supposed to protect them.

Recent happenings in the society expose fathers who rape their female children consecutively and get them impregnated. Some of these children die in the process of giving birth to these children, while some of them become teenage mothers with mental instability as a result of the shame and depression such acts bring upon them.

These days, some men even rape women as a way of punishing them as reported in the case of a rapist who confessed to raping a woman because she refused to greet him! In addition, on June 10, 2020, in Kano, as reported by BBC, a man confessed to raping over 40 women, including an 80 year-old woman, within one year.

The term ‘rape’ originates from the Latin word ‘rapere’, which means to snatch, to grab or to carry off and since the 14th century, the term has come to mean to seize and take away by force.

According to Wikipedia, rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person  without that person’s consent. This act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines rape as a form of sexual assault, while The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes rape in their definition of sexual assault; they describe rape as a form of sexual violence. The 1998 International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda defines rape as ”physical invasion of a sexual nature committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive”.

As posited by a source, the age at which an individual may give effective consent to sexual intercourse is commonly set in most countries at between 14 and 18 years, while in some countries, it is 12 years. Sexual intercourse with a person below the age of consent is termed statutory rape.  In this case, consent is no longer relevant.

Statutory rape also refers to any kind of sexual assault committed against a person above the age of consent by an individual in a position of authority like employers, teachers, doctors and parents and it  often leaves the victims with long-term psychological and physical damage, including sexually transmitted diseases and the inability to bear children.

Statistics shows that South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world at 132.4 incidents per 100,000 people. According to a survey conducted by the South African Medical Research Council, approximately one in four men surveyed admitted to committing rape.

It is also estimated that approximately 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime. In most countries with data available on rape, less than 40 per cent of women who experience sexual violence seek help and less than 10 per cent seek assistance from law enforcement agencies.

Age is one of the factors, which enhance rape. Rapists go after vulnerable or younger people who they can easily incapacitate. According to Wikipedia, young women are usually found to be more at risk of rape than older women. Data from justice system and rape crisis centres in Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua, New Guinea, Peru and the United States of America state that between one third and two thirds of all victims of sexual assault are aged 15 years or less.

Statistics also shows that women from ages 16-19 are four times more likely to be victims of rape and sexual assault and female college students ages 18-24 are three times more likely to experience sexual assault.

In addition, alcohol and drug consumption may put one at risk of being raped. Drug abuse among the youths of nowadays is a serious issue that calls for a serious attention as videos showing many youths acting under the influence of drug abuse surface online almost every day. In such a situation, if rape occurs, the victim may be unable to protect herself/himself or it may even lead to death as a result of violence.

Furthermore, poverty can also enhance rape. People who are poor often do not have time to monitor the activities of their children due to their search for means of livelihood. Apart from the fact that they engage their children in child labor which may at times send the children away to unsafe places where they may get raped, majority of them also stay out till late night, leaving their children with either relatives or neighbors who may not be trustworthy

In our society, people show little or no concern for rape victims because they are usually more interested in the victim’s look or appearance before the incident because it is believed that if one is properly dressed, rape cannot possibly occur and this in effect leads to more perpetration of rape in our society. The United Nations Women posits that what a woman is wearing, what and how much she had to drink and where she was at a certain time is not an invitation to rape her.

Also, many rape cases go unreported while the perpetrators go unpunished because the society places more importance on family honour than people’s well-being as it is believed that such a case may bring dishonour to the family’s image in the society.

In a bid to curb sexual related violence, the United Nations Action, which is aimed at addressing sexual violence in conflicts and beyond, was created in 2007 in response to the “call to action” of the June 2006 symposium on sexual violence in conflict and beyond, held in Brussels. The establishment of UN Action responds to calls from within the UN, as well as from women’s rights organisations, non-governmental organisation (NGO) and member states to elevate sexual violence politically as a peace and security challenge and as a humanitarian, human rights, gender and development issues.

Even though it is of utmost importance that measures are taken in order to curb the menace of rape in the society, yet, unless thesociety stop attaching certain depraving attribute to the men folk like “men will always  be men” or the misconception of men’s entitlement to sex not minding wherever they get it from, putting an end to rape in the society will be infeasible.

According to a source, rape can be curbed by challenging images of violence against women in advertising, pornography and other forms of media. Also by supporting women and men, who are working to end sexual violence and recognizing that sexual violence will not end until men become part of the solution.

Conclusively, no one deserves to be sexually harassed or assaulted because it leads to shame, humiliation, confusion, fear, rage and perpetual feeling of defilement; an inability to feel clean, an overwhelming sense of vulnerability and a paralyzing feeling of lack of control over the victims’ lives. Parents are urged to pay proper attention to their children in order to ensure their safety and drugs

should not be abused for any reason as it is inimical to health and hampers the well-being of the society.

*Adeparua, is a Lagos-based Creative Writer. She could be reached via: adeparuaadot55@gmail.com

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