Rape and sexual violence: Causes and prevention

Enjoy this abstract write-up Culled from Project Alert… A Non Profit Organization on Violence Against Women In Nigeria.

In Early June, representatives of over 100 governments, the Heads of eight United Nations agencies and nearly a thousand experts were in London to launch the first ever International Protocol on how to document and investigate sexual violence in conflict.

Definition of rape
The Oxford English Dictionary defines rape as the crime of forcing somebody to have sex with you especially using violence. Rape simply means unlawful carnal knowledge. Incest is sexual activity between two people who are very closely related in a family. Abominable incestuous relationships are clearly defined in the Holy Bible (Leviticus 18 and 20)

Epidemiology of rape and incest
Rape had existed and reported since biblical times. Shechem defiled Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob; this incident and the grave consequences are described in Genesis Chapter 34. Amnon the son of David defiled his half sister Tamar; this incident and the grave consequences are described in 2 Samuel Chapter 13. Rape, a veritable sign of evil and debased character, has often been used as a weapon of offence against women and the society (Is 13:16; Lam 5:11; Zech 14:2).
The incidence of rape cases reported in recent times has continued to rise worldwide as hardly any day passes without a case being reported in the news mediaprint, electronic inclusive of internet. Hardly an hour or day passes without reports of rape cases globally even in countries where rapists may incur the death penalty. The epidemic may be due to increase in reporting such cases by victims, their families and the media, as a result of various efforts by civil society, especially in advocacy, education and awareness about such issues. The methods have become more beastly as infants, children and minors have been raped by pedophiles; gang rape has become the norm and some rape victims have been killed outright. Furthermore, the act of using power, manipulation or force to intimidate, humiliate, exploit, degrade or control another is a major factor in the rape of women. Rape has been used as a weapon in war, in racial violence and in everyday life. Rape is increasingly being used as a weapon of war from the world’s arsenal of cruelty. It has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with power and the desire to conquer and humiliate.
Most of the rape cases reported in recent times in Nigeria have shown a shift to children and minors, although few cases of assaults against the aged women, particularly those who live alone, have been reported. Incidents of Internet posting of gang rape, paedophilia and all forms of sexual assault are largely targeted at under-aged girls.
Children are particularly vulnerable because they innocently love and trust adults to protect them. Indecent seductive dressing by women is also a contributory factor. Furthermore, the society is becoming more permissive and both young and old now have access to pornography. Young ones are into experiencing, and from being adventurous, they start losing control, which is very central to sexual decorum. There is so much out there in the public domain that gives the impression that sex is cheap and freedom of expression is limitless.
It is impossible to accurately quantify the frequency of rape cases as the vast majority of rape cases go unreported in Nigeria because of threats of the victims from violators and the fear of stigmatization of the rape victim and her family, and also because of lack of confidence in a justice system where the police is likely to insult and provoke the victims with flippant and derisive questions. Rape victims are not often treated with dignity. Often they are blamed for being raped and are asked to produce “evidence”. Frequency of sexual offences, especially rape, incest and defilement of children has continued unabated because of poor response to reported cases by law enforcement officials – trivializing reported cases, lack of diligence in investigation and prosecution and delays by the judiciary.
Incestuous relationships abound in dysfunctional families and some women are inclined to cover-up to save their relationship with their husbands. Some fathers, mostly those separated from wives and having custody of the children, are also guilty of this heinous crime.
Milieu conducive to rape: Risk factors
•Leaving a child to stroll or wander away unattended to in a building with multiple tenants or in the market place where the mother is a market woman, is a notable factor. Often a co-tenant sends the minor on errands e .g to purchase an item so as to trap the girl in his room when she returns to deliver the item. Some wicked predators use candies/cookies as a bait for children.
•Leaving a child/children in the custody of male drivers or domestic staff while at work, is also a notable factor. The domestic staff may be male or female. There have been instances when a wicked house girl has paired up sister and brother in her custody to consort with each other. There have also been instances when a wicked female domestic staff has called in her male friends or steward/gateman to rape the child of her boss.
•At times young girls are lured by wicked friends to visit male friends/relations with the deliberate intention to get the innocent girl defiled. Often the wicked friend is someone who has lost her virginity and out of jealousy, wants the chaste friend defiled. Such victims are blackmailed into silence because it is hard to convince anyone that you were raped when you willingly visited the home of the rapist.
•Some minors are raped by live-in relations/friends of the family
•Some rape cases occur at lights-out parties at night particularly when intoxicants are deliberately put in drinks offered to unsuspecting girls. Some rape cases occur when parents leave youths alone at home to hold wild parties, watch pornographic video/TV programmes.
•Some ‘lesson teachers’ have been rapists, when the minor has been left alone after school hours with the teacher.
•Child/girl trafficking continues to be a worldwide crime. At times innocent girls are lured into “greener pastures” to be used for sex trade; some poverty stricken parents sell their daughters into sex trade. Some girls are raped while street hawking at times to promote sale of their wares.
Prevention of rape and sexual assault
It is the duty of parents to protect their children from ungodly influences by being aware of Satan’s attempt to destroy them spiritually through attraction to the world or through immoral companions (Prov 13:20; 28:7; 1 John 2:15-17).
Parents, especially mothers must be sensitive to their environment, educate and enlighten their children on this trend and how to detect possible predators and avoid them. In this era of perilous times when homosexuals molest male children, both male and female children need to be enlightened and protected from being sexually assaulted. Parents should instruct their children not to accompany their friends to visit unknown people or places.
Parents should inculcate in their daughters the moral values of dressing decently so that when they grow up they would abhor immoral seductive dressing.
Do not encourage male live-in relations/friends. Some rape cases involving minors are carried out by family members. If you have female children in the home, and you must accommodate male visitors, the mother should protect her daughters by sleeping in the same room with them for as long as the male visitor is being accommodated.
Do not let unauthorized people carry your children to sit on their laps. Some paedophils experience sexual arousal through such postures and may fondle the innocent child. Teach your children not to develop the habit of letting unauthorized people, male or female, lap them. Some women are lesbians.
The Law enforcement agencies must change their attitude towards this deadly crime. Policing and responding to sexual crimes requires a high level of sensitivity and empathy, and specialized skills in investigating and prosecuting offenders to ensure that cases of rape are treated with urgency. Investigations by the police should be diligently carried out and prosecuted, and offenders given maximum sentences to serve as a deterrent to others.
Severe punishment – possibly death penalty – should be prescribed for child/sex traffickers, particularly for trafficking of underage girls – minors.
Concerted efforts and interventions aimed at creating public awareness on the possible risk factors and prevention must be vigorously pursued by parents, churches, other religious organizations and the press.
Safety tips every child should know
*Do not get into any car or get a ride with people without your parents consent.
*Stay away from anyone who follows you on foot or in a car
*Do not go near a car to talk to people inside
*Quickly get away from anyone who tries to take you somewhere
*Shout, yell or scream – “This person is not my father (or mother)”
*Never go to anywhere alone or without adult supervision
*Always ask your parents’ permission before leaving the house, compound or playground area or to go over to a friend’s house
*Never follow, obey or listen to a stranger
*Do not obey anyone who asks you to keep a special secret, if they do, tell your parents or guardians or teacher.
*Tell anyone who wants to take your picture, “No”, and quickly tell your parents or guardian or teacher
*No one should touch you on the parts of the body covered by your clothing, nor should you touch anyone else in those areas. Your body is special and private.
*Do not accept invitations to sleep over in a friend’s home.

•Emeritus Professor Yetunde Mercy Olumide is a consultant Dermatologist at the Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi Araba, Lagos
Have a great and blissful weekend…
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