AMAZING, incredible, bizarre, mind-boggling, unimaginable, stupendous, tyrannical, oppressive, inane, irritating are some apt words which would describe the increasing maladies of sexual abuse being reported in environments, climes and nations.
Examples abound, old maternal father paternal fathers having incestuous sexual relationships with their daughters, often times minors, baby factories springing daily in poverty ravaged countries that cannot manufacturing toothpicks into their industrial policies, pastors/spiritualists/ woe – leaders taking advantage of their female- customers seeking spiritual solutions, ritualists severing private parts of their sex victims. There are more dragged, fierce-looking, maniacal Boko-Haram insurgents taking over towns, villages and territories, seizing their innocent young girls and for several years subjecting them to serial sexual orgies unthinkable except towards casting pornographic videos.
Helpless grannies and widows being waylaid by cudgel wielding youths, aimed robbers and kidnappers invading homes mostly at nights subjecting wives and sleeping tired mothers of these homes to brazen sex in front of their husbands, sons and daughters.
Street hawkers are lured into uncompleted homes to buy what they are not willing to sell and lecturers taking advantage of desperate students seeking admission, seasonal academic promotions and teachers in crèche, nursery, primary and secondary schools sexually abusing their teens under them. Boundless to the geographical age, gender, class or professional limitations.
Though, the burden of guilt has rested unarguably and incontrovertibly more on the men folk, the feminine folk have regrettably being equally accused especially with provocatively seductive dresses in vogue among the female gender.
An Ex-President of a foremost advanced country was sometimes ago found guilty of sexual immorality and many stars, respected icons and leading figures in the world could not and cannot absolve themselves. There is more to sex than the sense or literature could fathom.
The human psychology and physiology of victims are negatively affected sometimes for life. Many had caught STDs, HIVs, AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases as a result of being sexually abused. Many abused minors never trust anybody again as long as they live, later in life, become frigid in response to normal legal marital sex.
Many marriages suppose to be built on trust so destroyed irreparably, before commencement. Nations are not saved from bad governance when led by victims and offenders of sexual abuse. Global insurgency, crimes and wars are often championed, initiated and financed by victims of sexual abuse whose hopes for decent living had sometimes ago been traumatized, shattered or truncated by sexual abuse tyrannical experiences.
For victims not quickly rehabilitated, sexual abuse often serve as lead to other worse crimes in Eastern Nigeria, grandmothers and victims of sexual abuse were taking courses in Karate, boxing, wrestling to defend themselves in case of future attacks. Female undergraduates take knives, scissors and harmful instruments along while studying in the campuses at nights, for self defence.
In all wars, defence is a key strategy.
However, many reasons had often been advanced as possible causes. Weak criminal prosecution system, parental neglect, poverty of the pocket, soul and mind, unemployment, deficit socio-structures and value system- exemplified in dressings, insurgency, herbal medicine abuse among others.
The emphasis of this generation is on money, making monkeys and mockeries of flawed religious messages. Lack of fear of God, in my opinion is quite central to the abnormality. I can’t figure it how a 90year old man would feel on the top of a 3year minor!
The world needs the help of a supreme being. Nigerians, my fellows are gross church goers and mass mosque devotees but the real virtues these religions preach are virtually untraceable in us, while this writer is not an adherent of the traditional religion but curiously when traditional worship dominated the African socio-cultural development, these wicked acts of humans against humans in flagrant sexual abuses were not common place.
We must move forward, not backward. A sane mind would think of ways forward. More enlightenment activities for potential victims should be done through the media in schools, churches and mosques. There should be undercover agents in communities to protect potential victims, NGO’s, foundations and civil society organizations set up to help victims should move nearer to the grassroots, perhaps to be in all the 774 local governments in say, Nigeria.
Since they are usually more effective in prosecuting offenders, accessibility to them in various local communities would expedite the prosecution process. There should be speedy review of the criminal prosecution system relating to sexual offences.
It denigrates humanity; more severe punishment for offenders would serve as deterrents. Arguably, Indonesia, Saudi, Arab, UAE and many of these organizations of Islamic countries operating strict moral and Islamic based laws have low reported cases of rape and other sexual abuse or related offences. As a nation, we can emulate these countries in this area to reduce this heinous crime. Offenders should be blacklisted from certain responsibilities; where valid cases are established, such offenders should be blamed from teaching appointments or working in areas where minors or the female gender dominate.
Intelligent reporting before crimes are committed should be encouraged. There should be society intelligence officers who should be empowered to investigate potential rape or prospective sexual abuse cases and perform surveillance on likely predators before they have opportunities to commit these crimes. Our girls must be protected and offenders prosecuted.
Men folk who suffer sexual abuse should also be encouraged to report. It is unbelievable but it does happen that men fall victims to sexual abuse. Our campuses, organizations, institutions and homes should be cleared of sexually provocative dresses, films and attitudes censoring of local sales sexual stimulants, phonographic, absence and adult films would advance the save our girls from sexual abuse project.
Without doubts, sex stimulating films litter the film industry in Nigeria and this catalyst to sexual offence must be checked. The Nigeria Films Censors Board must be alive to its responsibilities.
Leadership of nations, especially in Africa must rise to tackling the hydra headed challenge of lack of access to education and poverties of unemployment which results in spiral negative effects including sexual abuses. It is far easier for an unemployed or frustrated jobless person to engage in drug abuse, negative peer influence, rape or sexual mismeanours than someone whose positive energy has been sapped under productive efforts, engagements and channeled towards a designed future.
As concerted efforts are beamed on vices such as sexual offences, there are greater tendencies for these vices to collapse under the weight of superior virtues, preached and practised in the pulpits, and among the pews. Fundamental human right of the girl child, minors and the feminine gender to say YES/NO to voluntary sex should not be trampled upon by the tyrannical dehumanization through sexual abuse. Wars of shed blood, cries of innocent helpless souls, wounded hearts, disaffected destinies should be avoided now and the future.
Apt to conclude with were the words of the former American President Truman, during the inauguration of the United Nations Chapter on Human Rights in 1949 that “regard for human rights is indispensable to political, economic and social progress….disregard of human rights is the beginning of tyranny and, too often, the beginning of war”.
Stop Sexual Abuse, Stop War!
By Dr. Ajibola Esuola.
Where Is Your Wrapper?’ By Bisi Fayemi
I was in Uganda a few years ago for one of the programs we used to run at the African Women’s Leadership Institute. One day, there was a report about something that had happened in one of the local markets. One of the women in the market went into labour unexpectedly. It seemed there was no time to get her to a nearby hospital or clinic, so the women around went into action. Some of them ran around to look for basins, hot water, towels, and razors.
A few held her hand and encouraged her to push. Majority of the women around took out their wrappers and held them up, creating a protective ring around the woman, shielding her from prying eyes. Every now and then, this scenario plays itself in other markets around the continent, and the response is mostly the same – women bring out their wrappers to protect one of their own.
Sadly, this is no longer the case these days. Instead of wrappers coming out, it would be cell phones to record every graphic detail. Sure, help might still come, but not before the person concerned has all their pain and agony out there for all the world to see.
Recently, there was the case of a young woman in Ajah, Lagos, who was found wandering the streets. Reports on how she got there vary, but she was stark naked, extremely emaciated and incoherent. Instead of immediately rushing to help, covering her up and getting her medical attention, onlookers laughed at her, threw things at her and recorded her on their cell phones.
Without any idea of who she was or how she got there, judgements were made on the spot about her being the victim of ritualists which she must have brought on herself in her quest to make quick money. A good Samaritan, Keira Hewatch, stepped in and took her to the hospital. Even though many onlookers were not prepared to help the poor woman on the road, they tried to stop Keira from helping her, saying she too might be bewitched. Essentially, they refused to bring out their wrappers to protect and save someone and tried to stop someone else who was willing to bring out hers.
What do these wrappers signify? To me they mean protection, solidarity, sisterhood, empathy, kindness, compassion, duty, all those things and more that make us human beings. In the market places where the scene I described in Uganda happens, there is an unspoken protocol amongst the women – a responsibility to take care of one of their own who needs them. She is in pain. Afraid. But she has sisters around her, rooting for her and helping her.
So, I ask us my dear sisters, where is your wrapper? Where is your wrapper to shield and protect other women and girls who need you? Where was your wrapper for the little girl who was molested by someone in your household and you said ‘Shhhhh’ and looked the other way? Where was your wrapper when someone you know said she was raped by someone she trusted? Did you ask her what she was wearing? Or if she seduced him? Where was your wrapper when your friend needed succour from an abusive husband? Did you gossip behind her back that it served her right, she is too arrogant? Where was your wrapper when your sister or daughter told you that her lecturers were harassing her in the University? Did you tell them that they must have done something to encourage them? Where was your wrapper when a young woman who could have been your own sister, daughter or niece was found on the streets naked? Were you one of the women who stood by and recorded her misery and threw things at her? Were you one of the men who tried to stop brave Keira from helping? What was in it for you to have a very sick woman die untended in broad daylight, with human beings baying for her blood like animals? Even animals care more for their own.
Our wrappers might all look different, with varying sizes, shapes and colours, but each and every one of us has a wrapper. Bring that wrapper out to shield another woman, or a man. Use it to help get her a contract, help with her rent, pay her children’s fees, help her with capital for a business or simply a discreet shoulder to cry on. Never let a day go by without bringing out that wrapper. The way God works is that the more wrappers you bring out for others, the more will come out for you. We don’t only need wrappers when we celebrate and buy Aso Ebi. We need the wrappers for our trials and tribulations and we all have them.
The women in the market place might never see the woman they helped again. She might never be able to say thank you. Yet she will never forget that other women stood by her and gave her dignity and covered her nakedness. Are we prepared to cover the nakedness of others, or do we want to be part of the mob that strips them naked? These days there seems to be a war against women. Not only is sexual violence at an all time high, these crimes are now committed in full view of the public. A young woman is accused of stealing and stripped naked, hands all over her and objects being stuck into her. When this happens, what do we do, will we look the other way? When a woman is being harassed online, do we join in the abuse? The more wrappers we bring out, the safer we will all be. There is another conversation to be had with the men, with our male leaders, with those who have the powers and privileges that weaken our agency and make us forget that we have wrappers in the first place. Today, we are talking to and about ourselves.
Let us all agree to bring out our beautiful, strong, diverse wrappers. Our wrappers of respect, love, dignity, support and endless hope. Thank you for bringing out your wrapper Keira. God bless us all.
The Ekiti State First Lady, Bisi Adeleye Fayemi, a Gender Specialist and Social Entrepreneur writes.
Sowore and allegory of the rat that saw tomorrow | By Festus Adedayo
Many commentators on the attempted abduction of rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, right inside a courtroom of the Federal High Court, Abuja by men of the State Security Service (SSS), self-styled as the Department of State Services (DSS), have termed the occurrence tragic. I disagree. I tend to think that the tragedy is not that one person, out of about 200 million Nigerians, was visited with the raw brunt of a Mobutu Sese-Seko in Nigeria. The tragedy, to my mind, is that Nigerians still trivialize and euphemize the gravity of the calamity that is right here with us.
The tragedy is reflected in the fact that we do not realize how, with Muhammadu Buhari, we are all in trouble, without a single exception. The tragedy is further compounded by those who, on account of party, ethnicity, politics or religion, have, since Friday, been excusing, legitimizing or rationalizing the calamity that befell Nigeria on that black Friday, right inside that court room. Let us pause a while as I situate the gravity of the tragedy.
A tragedy of similar trope that I can readily recall is the fable of the rat, goat, cow and the landlord that I was told several decades ago. It is a story that is used to graphically paint the tragedy of group failure to confront an impending calamity from its infancy; it is our own version of German Lutheran Pastor, Martin Niemoller’s poetic rendition of post-war cowardice of German intellectuals and some clergymen at the outset of Adolf Hitler’s macabre despotism and gradual massacre of groups in Europe, one after the other. While Hitler and his Aryan race incrementally decimated all the strata of society, there was a deliberate externalization, rationalization and trivialization of the calamity of his Third Reich, just the way some Nigerians have been rationalizing the Sowore tragedy.
Niemoller had captured the tragedy thus in such an engagingly penetrating poetry: First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. This poetry was also engraved on the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston.
Africa had her own attempt to rout collective action against tyranny before Niemoller’s, captured in an ancient fable but which possessed similar imperishable take-away.
A Landlord, who reared within his compound rats, goats, cows, and who was living with his wife, once came home with a rat trap. Opportune to sneak into where the trap was kept, the rat alerted the whole Landlord’s community that there was an impending calamity. Fazed by what they perceived as the rat’s attempt to externalize a problem solely his, the rest of the community wondered how the trap could signal an impending calamity to them. Frustrated by repeated attempts to get the community to collectively stave off the doom, the rat eventually gave Late Chief Bola Ige a handshake and embraced his sidon look philosophy.
Then one day, when the Landlord had set the trap to catch the notorious rat in the compound, his wife mistakenly stepped into its menacing metal barbs and was critically injured. Believing that the wound could be treated at home, weeks of self-medication worsened the injury and a hospital visit later pronounced that the wound had courted gangrene. Guests from afar who came to sympathize with the family had to be fed, necessitating the killing of the goat. When eventually, the madam of the house died of the injury, the cow was slaughtered for the burial ceremony.
On Friday last week, the world was astounded at the raw despotism visited on Sowore inside the court by Buhari’s DSS. While so many people who have inner eyes to perceive the calamity that lies ahead for Nigeria saw the event as symptomatic of the berth of Hitler on the Nigerian soil, so many people have rationalized the attack. Some even claim that Sowore, having joined forces to unseat former President Goodluck Jonathan while supporting Buhari’s ascension into power, had literally ridden on the back of the tiger and no one should pity him now that he is venison for the notorious tiger.
If the guilt of yesterday were to be used as the crucifix, not many of us can stand the scalding hot iron. We foolishly disobeyed the promptings of some people whose inner eyes saw beyond the façade of a despot-turned-democrat whose visor Buhari wore in 2015. They told us, even from the start, that they could see well ahead the democratic calamity that Buhari would be.
Believing that anyone but Goodluck Jonathan would do, we consigned those wise counsels inside the trash receptacle. I had a friend who is a professor in the United Kingdom who warned trenchantly, ab initio, that Buhari’s tiger could never change its stripes and thirst for blood. We told him to shut his trap as the new bride was now a repentant democrat. Gradually, Buhari started to bare his fangs and right now, we are at a very dangerous cusp between full-blown despotism and pseudo democratic credentials of a man whose idea of governance is manacling voices of dissent.
Buhari’s kind of emerging despotism is the most deadly. He is blessed with a taciturnity that is uncommon among men of his ilk. Not many people can claim to know the content of his mind. Those who know him talk of a man who engages mentally nourishing materials seldom.
He is fed on old ideas of brute force and even old ideas of governing a people. He possesses the old Uthman Dan Fodio idea of conquest of kingdoms and sparse idea of what to do with the conquered kingdom thereafter. He baits his foes with the same ruthless drive with which the lion baits the impala and when he descends on the victim, he celebrates his conquest by soaking his fluffy mane with its blood.
Buhari didn’t get to this level of ordering DSS to pounce on his victim inside the hallowed ground of the court overnight. His community – Adolf, Mobutu, Papa Doc, etc. don’t too. It was a gradual process. When he ordered the same DSS to storm the homes of judges in a Gestapo manner at the dead of the night, posturing to be fighting corruption, an admixture of political affiliation, religious connotation and belief in the power of an old military mascot, ensured that a panoply of kudos go to him.
Anyone who asked that a demarcation be made between corruption and justice was typecast as either a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or one of the relics of the corruption of the past. Lionized by the volley of claps, Buhari moved a step forward. The same DSS was unleashed on the National Assembly as hooded agents stormed the legislature. Again, this tyranny was greeted with claps and rationalizations across board. Emboldened, Buhari visited this same gruff on the former Chief Justice of Nigeria and before you knew it, earlier voices in support of the CJN were drowned when he brought out what he called Walter Onnoghen’s hands dripping with filthy oil from our collective broth. Then, he stomped on the religious Mullah, El Zak Zakky and his wife, threw them into the gulag and turned his challenged ear the other way, away from court orders. Repeatedly, his government has shown that the courts do not matter, even as he defecates on the order papers, while muttering diffidently the swear-word, dan buroba, shege!
Ibrahim Dasuki has been inside the Buhari gulag for years now for an offence that is bail-able and which some claim is an offshoot of a personal vendetta yet, we all look the other way, like those cow and goat, pretending that the tiff was between Gambari and Fulani which concerns us merely tangentially or not a jot at all. A recent investigative report by one of the newspapers said that many Nigerians are today in detention for daring to antagonize the new Fuhrer. Since this list of victims of power contains neither us nor our family members, we choose to externalize its debilitating effect.
Today, the power equation in Nigeria is such that assaults the spirit of equity which our forefathers swore must be etched in our hearts.
A Northerner is the President of Nigeria, a Northerner is the President of the Senate and a Northerner is the Chief Justice of Nigeria. We all move about as if nothing is amiss. I cannot readily recall a time in history when this kind of malady ever happened in Nigeria. Even under the military regime, attempts were made to worship this hallowed god of equity in a Nigeria fractured by arcane ethnic configurations, plural culture, languages and all that. At the death of General Murtala Muhammed and the banner fell on a Southerner, Olusegun Obasanjo, to be the Head of State, Musa Yar’Adua had to be given double promotion so that he could assume the 2iC position that would give the power configuration some sense of balance and equitable representation. Not now, not under a man who believes that he was the representative of Fodio in assuring an ascendancy of his kin in the Nigerian equation.
When I see emerging despotism, I remember the example of 19th century famous and powerful Egba migrant to Ibadan called Efunsetan Aniwura.
Wealthy, indeed said to be one of the wealthiest Yoruba women that ever lived, Aniwura became a sturdy in unmitigated tyranny. She was reputed to be a wildly authoritarian Iyalode of Ibadan whose weapon of autocracy was to inflict capital punishment on erring slaves. Like her contemporary character, Sani Abacha, Efunsetan Aniwura was murdered one night in 1874 while she was deep asleep. Two of the slaves in her barn had been tasked with the murder plot, woven by Aare Latosa, the Ibadan king who enlisted Aniwura’s adopted son, Kumuyilo, who in turn engaged the slaves.
We all should gird our loins because the gruff manifestation in the court on Friday is a grim projection of what we will face henceforth. Though he has feebly denied having any plan for a Third Term, psycho analysis of power shows that acts like the Friday court crackdown are precursors to a full-blown despotism or a plan to totally cow the populace, penultimate the baring of a Hitleric fangs. While, in the words of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, I see sorrow, tears and blood ahead, I am however comforted that despotism has an expiry.
Nigeria : A Nation Yet With Unfulfilled Pledge
The functionalist behavioral scientists presented the evolution of human society by drawing an analogy between human organism and societal entity. They viewed human and social organism as a system in which their parts work interrelated and interdependently to maintain a healthy whole. While human entity consists of systems such as the nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system; the social organism (Society) comprises institutions like economy, education, family, government, religion as its system.
Human entity also progressed from infancy to adolescence, and to adulthood, while society or a nation passes through progressional chain such as; hunting and gathering, horticultural, agrarian to the level of industrial society. The foregoing means that a nation like Nigeria with approximately 200 million inhabitants in an area of 920,000 km2 (360,000 sq mi) is subjected to growth just as a living organism.
It is yet hard to conclude that the expectations and dreams of Nigerian citizens , except few privileged ones , have been fulfilled, in spite of Nigeria’s 59 year existence as an independent nation. Is Nigeria still a fool at 59? Will it be a fool forever? Because a popular adage echoes that “a fool at 40 is a fool forever”. Though, life span of a country may be longer than that of a man, yet if a man cannot attain his appropriate position at age 59, he is likely to be considered a failed human. Even, as the ‘Giant of Africa’, can Nigeria nationale hope for a better Nigeria?
Looking around, Nigerians daily see signs of hopelessness, retardation and backwardness which are antithetic to ” to life more abundance “, the slogan when Nigeria was granted a sovereign status in the 1960s by the then British Empire. It is only when a tongue is kept in the mouth that what has been displayed in Nigeria for fifty nine years (59) would be described as development.
Food prices keep rising, cost of living including accommodation skyrocketing, cost of education rising, yet yearly failure in exams and low quality outputs is the order of the day. Petroleum products prices keep rising from N11 per litre in 1994 to N145 per litre in 2019, yet state of infrastructure in Nigeria is deplorable, crimes and hostilities, the militant groups in the Niger Delta, Kidnappers and Bokoharam in the North among others, have assumed different dimensions in the land. The latter seems to be a reaction to injustice, which the leaders have allowed to permeate the land.
According to development experts, indices such as industrialization, Gross National Product (GNP), Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Capital Accumulation, Massive Investment in ICT like NigComsat and the newly launched one (s) ; even democracy, among others, cannot be used as yardsticks for growth or development.
Far back in 1969, it was Dudley Seers, a British economist who specialised in development economics that said the questions to ask about state’s development are : What has been happening to poverty and hunger? What has been happening to unemployment? What has been happening to inequality? “If all three of these have declined from high levels, then beyond doubt this has been a period of development for the country concerned. If one or two of these problems have been growing worse, especially if all three have, it would be strange to call the result ‘development’, even if per capita income had doubled”, Seers concluded.
Premising on the conclusion of Seers, it is neither out of place nor over statement to conclude that Nigeria is far from development. If the nation is far from development, then, what is the root cause? Many causes can be adduced but chief and basic among them is LEADERSHIP.
Bad or ineffective leadership, including political and business leaders who run the nation’s economy, has been identified as the treat to sincere development in Nigeria and liberation of the Nigerian majority from poverty, hunger, homelessness and discomfort in its various manifestations. It is germane, not to deceive ourselves, to state that the type , the quality of person (s) put at the helm of affairs will determine the extent of progress recorded in the areas of socio – political, economic and human development, peace and tranquility that pervade a society.
With all these infuriating challenges, conspiracy of enslavement and pauperization by the imperialists in the corridors of power from the North to South, and West to East, when will that pledge and dream be fulfilled? May be at this juncture, Nigerian leaders should be reminded of the lines in the nation’s pledge which they have always forgotten.
“I pledge to Nigeria my country; to be faithful, loyal and honest
To serve Nigeria with all my strength, to defend her unity….” Nigerian leaders , have you been faithful, loyal and honest with your fellow Nigerians? Have you been serving Nigerians with all your strength? Have you been defending the unity of your immediate constituencies, the country at large?
All these nagging questions require resolute answers
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