Sex is a topic that even in this day and age isn’t so openly discussed in Nigeria; and rape even much less than that.
In an article for Aljazeera, writer and broadcaster Wana Udobang talks about her experience at Lagos’ only support center, the Mirabel Center at Lagos University Teaching Hospital. It’s the only one in a city of about 18 million people and in an ironic twist, it is miniscule, which basically describes how seriously we take rape issues.
As much girls and women that bravely come forward to report their perpetrator, a lot more choose to keep silent.
Has it ever made you wonder why? Victims don’t report their rape, and it’s for different and personal reason.
We are in a society that often times blames the victims. Responsibilities are placed on women to not get raped, instead of on men –not to rape. In a society where virginity is revered, girls and women who are victims of rape are often times seen as damaged goods.
Survivors often don’t open up because they think they did something wrong or didn’t do something right. Quite simply, they blame themselves. They assume there is something they could have done to stop the abuser. They regret what they did or what they did not do.
Some girls that do get the courage to talk are either told they are lying or shunned into keeping quiet about it.
In the mind of the survivor, there is much to fear. They are afraid of what will happen when they tell, if they’ll be believed, if they’ll I be supported.
Some survivors do not tell to protect themselves and their families; it’s especially true with children. Perpetrators often tell them that if they talked, they would kill their loved ones.
Corrupt legal system
The Nigerian legal system is time consuming at best and corrupt at worst. Money will most times exchange hands, and those with power often emerge unscathed.
Life goes on
As Wana said, “For many survivors, the slow judicial process adds to the trauma – they want to be able to move on with their lives rather than having to relive what happened to them over and over again.”
Wana wrote about the 5 brave girls that chose to speak about their ordeal. But they still face problems. One of the girls, Halima, was raped by her landlord’s son. Her father, in a bid to keep their accommodation, chose to let the perpetrator go unpunished.
Nike pressed charges, but the police officers gave her home address to the parents of the man who raped her and they are trying to settle the case out of court.
Mary was raped by a choirmaster from her church, her family was excommunicated when she chose not to keep silent.
What can be done?
The Mirabel Center is funded by DFID, the UK’s Department for International Development. Funding ends this year and so far the future of the center’s existence doesn’t look so bright. Most companies don’t want to be associated with such cause.
As they saying goes, charity begins at home. We don’t have to wait for them to do something, when we as individuals of privilege can do something about it.
Send your donations to:
Partnership for Justice,
Standard Chartered Bank
Visit GoFundMe here: SaveMirabel
Let’s save Mirabel.
Featured image: DivaDocSpeaks.