Religion Culture enabler of Rape in Nigeria
Rape is not a new phenomenon in the Nigerian system but in recent times, the ugly cases have begun to attract more voice due to the influence of social media. What is rape? Many bodies have varying terms to it, for the sake of this article, we will go with the criminal code of Nigeria definition, which states that “rape is when any person has sexual intercourse with a woman or girl, without her consent, or incorrectly obtained consent. Consent can be incorrectly obtained where it is obtained: by force, threat or intimidation, also, by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act and by a person impersonating a married woman’s husband in order to have sex” The Criminal code further expatiates that, sexual intercourse with underage girls or people with the unsound mind is the offense of defilement. So technically a person could be charged for rape and defilement.
Nothing exposes the backwardness of a country more than rape-tolerating society, backed by religious and cultural sentiments of male dominance. The Nigerian woman knows the possibility of rape is always high. She is reminded at every turn that, as a woman, any man who is physically strong enough can decide to demonstrate his supremacy by way of sexual violence.
According to the Nigerian constitution, it recommends life imprisonment for any found guilty of rape and 14 years for attempted rape. Unfortunately, it is quite embarrassing that in Nigeria judiciary history, only a few persons have been convicted of the crime. Only a few out of 40 rape are reported in Nigeria, it is hard to estimate the numbers of rapes committed annually.
In a rape-tolerating society like Nigeria, blaming the victims of rape is commonplace, with victims often cast as the enabler of the act. Statistics have shown that the majority of rape cases are someone known, such as friends, neighbors, colleagues, bosses, family relations, etc. As Nigeria’s culture prioritizes protecting the family at all costs, the burden is left for the victim to bear, often causing major life-long trauma without any hope for justice.
Sexual violence negatively affects a victim’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health. These forms of violence can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, emotional distress, and suicide attempt.
One major premise for victims not speaking up is the priority the Nigerian culture placed at protecting family at all cost, stigma, shame, displacement, and rejection, etc. Also, doubt as well, make many victims remain silent. The judiciary system is not helping, it is based on evidence and it is almost impossible to come up with a verifiable fact in Nigeria most of the time. However, recently, social media has been an effective tool to speak up which has influenced and motivated many victims to speak up.
We have to delve into the cultural and religious factors that have enabled this menace to continue for so long uncorrected. The Nigeria culture has always from childhood taught the girl child to always keep her head low, the Nigeria culture tagged women to distract men from going about their business, a woman is purportedly a distraction strategically positioned to bring down the man. The movie industry as well pushes the wrong narratives into the minds of their viewers. Rape, in any form, is a serious matter that should neither be joked about nor treated lightly. Anyone found guilty of rape should face the wrath of the law. But what happens to those wrongly accused of rape?
Religion and Culture, the enabler of Rape in Nigeria!