Written by Lea Kelley
The story of Angela is one that 1 out of 4 women have experienced. Angela’s old time flame invited her over for dinner, he had this charming way of not taking no for an answer. He insisted it had been such a long time he saw her pretty eyes. Angela obliged, what could one dinner hurt? She came over, he invited her in, offered her a joint and when she declined he inched closer, like a panther sneaking up on his prey. Flame was on her like white on bread, pulling, tugging, grabbing and smiling. Her hands pushed at his chest uselessly. Flame was too big and when he pinned her hands together and laid his entire weight on top of her she was almost immobile. How many times did she say no? Before she could open her mouth to scream, flame had lifted her dress, slid her underwear to the side and entered her in a swift move.
The sharp sting brought tears to her eyes, an irreparable damage to her soul. She squirmed and fought until she gave up. She lay there, hopeless, just waiting for him to finish, which didn’t take long. In that moment, she gave up. She had lost something, he had taken something from her. He got off, washed up and took Angela home. She lay in bed that night, blaming herself for what she had suffered. The dull ache between her legs, a constant reminder, kept her awake that night and many nights after that. Angela had just become a statistic, a “victim”.
Rape culture can be defined as “a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse” but can you really fit the gravity of rape culture into one sentence? Rape is a word that usually incites different reactions and feelings amongst people. It brings the feeling of awkwardness in some, incites feelings of fear in others, in some sparks a flame of guilt and in the worst kind brings a whirlwind of excitement. A man once said to me, “I know how to address all issues, except rape. I would never know how to comfort a victim.” I couldn’t blame him, what can you really say to a person that has been defiled in one of the worst ways possible. I’m sorry? I don’t believe rape victims every truly “get over it”, the slightest hint could open the oldest wounds. When I see people joking and “catching cruise” over the issue of rape, I shake my head. There is absolutely nothing remotely funny about rape. There is no joke that can be made that would ever make taking a piece of someone’s soul away humorous. It magnifies how deep the rape culture rot has gotten in this country. As citizens, we are equally as culpable because knowingly or unknowingly, rape has been normalized in this country and we stood by and let it happen.
The rape statistics in Nigeria are severely underreported. “The 2014 National Survey on Violence Against Children in Nigeria found that one in four women have experienced sexual violence in childhood, with over 70% of them reporting more than one incident. Of the 24.8% of women aged 18 to 24 who have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18, a 5% sought help, and just 3.5% received any assistance”.
As a woman living in a lawless society, we are terrified. I am terrified to walk past a group of men late at night or get into a taxi in the wee hours because not only could I be attacked but the chances I would get justice is slim to none. Where is my justice? Who would fight for me? My country has let me down in unimaginable ways by not protecting nor defending the average Nigerian woman. The criminal justice system has failed us for decades. It is time pull out the weeds that have overtaken the woman’s world.
To be continued…