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Rape And The Nigerian Society: Lessons From India

January 14, 2013

The brutal rape of a young woman in India and her death in Singapore last week sparked rage, riots and a series of questions about how women are treated in Third World countries. Delhi is the world's capital of gang rape and indecent treatment of women.  The brutalization of women appears to be cultural and religious as well.

The brutal rape of a young woman in India and her death in Singapore last week sparked rage, riots and a series of questions about how women are treated in Third World countries. Delhi is the world's capital of gang rape and indecent treatment of women.  The brutalization of women appears to be cultural and religious as well.

The  BBC reports about the country that 'female foetuses are aborted and baby girls killed after birth leading to an appallingly skewed sex ration'. Many of India's women face discrimination, prejudice, violence as single or married women. In the United Kingdom, it is typical for class teachers to complain that  young boys of Indian origin find it difficult to accept the authority of female teachers. The idea that a woman's place is in the bedroom and kitchen as taught to girls by their mothers who led inconsequential lives themselves have done Nigerian women a disservice. In the United Kingdom, women have liberated themselves from the shackles of the kitchen and bedroom. They choose as and when they want to have sex.  Marriage is not regarded as an accomplishment as it is in Nigeria. The laws of Great Britain  protect women from forced sex.

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Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against the other`     without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated or below the legal age of consent. The legal age of consent is 16 in the United Kingdom. According to the American Medical Association (1995), sexual violence and rape in particular is considered the most under reported violent crime. Rape by strangers is usually less common than rape by persons the victims know. Many girls and women are raped routinely by people they know. There have been cases of brothers/ step brothers raping their sisters,  uncles raping their nieces and nephews and family friends raping girls in their common sphere of influence. In India, most disturbingly, according to police records, the offenders were known to their victims in more than 94% of the cases. Neighbors accounted for a third of the offenders.

Across the world, policies that promote gender equality, safeguards against violence and access to health care make Canada the best place to be a woman. This is according to a poll by Reuters.  Predictably, infanticide, child marriage and slavery make India the worst, the same poll conducted. Nigeria did not feature in the seventeen countries that were polled. Germany, Britain, Australia and France  rounded out the top five countries out of the Group of 20 in a perceptions poll of 370 gender specialists conducted by Trust Law, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation. At the other end of the scale is Saudi Arabia - where women are well educated but are banned from driving and only won the right to vote in 2011-polled second worst after India, followed by Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico. Whilst Nigeria admittedly does not treat its women as horribly as India, we have our issues also. For example, widows are often left at the mercy of in laws, single women suffer terrible emotional damage from the hands of superior colleagues only because they are trendy females. In institutions across the nation, females are  made to conform to a dress code to prevent them from being viewed as sex objects by men. In cultures across Nigeria, wives experience  terrible agony and bullying when they fail to produce male children. We may never know if the scale of the gang rape which killed the nameless  23 year old young medical student in Delhi and seriously injured her male counterpart can ever take place in Nigeria, but we know that unless we consciously talk about the issues women face, many women will keep suffering in silence.

Whilst it is hard to find statistics on rape in Nigeria, long distance travelers in Nigeria (especially in the Eastern parts)  have often been attacked by hoodlums who have with  machetes, clubs and AK 47s (machine guns) raped women indiscriminately. The Senate and National Assembly seem more preoccupied with same sex marriage and  money sharing than in  enacting laws which would make sure rapists are deterred by punitive castration.  The latest viral story is that of a final year student of the Federal University of Minna who chopped the head of his girl friend after prolonged abusive sex. The circumstances of the case seem hazy, what remains clear is that the viciousness of the Delhi attack could be replayed in the streets of our country. Our women from Ilesha to Gombe ought to understand that they must now do all within their power to make sure they are safe for tragically, Nigeria has lost its conscience and voice unlike Delhi.  

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What can Nigeria learn from Delhi? The swift response of the leaders in making sure the perpetrators of the crime received  justice show that India's leadership are on top of the situation unlike NIgeria where the political elite seem deluded and detached. It is Nigeria after all life does not count for much.  We are months after the brutal death of the Aluu four, the Mubi massacres, it is unclear if the dead have been vindicated and the perpetrators of the crimes brought to justice.  We know that the killers of the Facebook girl Cynthia were brought to justice because her father was influential. Unlike India where a societal transformation is slowly taking place Nigeria is still yet to wake up and deal with its social issues.  The Federal Government are at a loss to handling  the well oiled terrorist organization, Boko Haram, prevalent insecurity and enslaving poverty. Preventing a Delhi from happening in Nigeria requires a people with a conscience and a leadership on top of things.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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