The story of how a rapist’s planned to defile a teenager and how it was thwarted in a village in Ebonyi state is now making the rounds, and is clear indication that rape can become a thing of the past if people showed commitment to stem the tide of the menace like the villagers in Mkpuma, in Izzi local government area of the state. Their commitment paid off showing rape, and other forms of sexual violence is indeed preventable.
Perhaps, it is in recognition of this fact that the villagers shamed one of their own who tried to defile the 12 -year old girl in the community. The man, who failed in his bid, was paraded and made to dance round the village to disgraceful songs by the youth.
Many communities in Nigeria have been under the siege of rapists. Only recently, a community in Lagos sent a save-our-soul message to the government and security agencies over rising cases of rape in their area alleging that the ugly incidents were not only carried out in Cele area but also in places such as Oshodi and Mile 2.
Residents claimed miscreants who usually attacked unsuspecting victims anytime from 4:00 p.m. despite Police presence were perpetrating the nefarious act.
To avoid such attacks a woman in the Lagos community said “I don’t allow my daughters to go out at night anymore because of the rumour about gang rape in the area.
“Also, I have told my daughters to stop putting on miniskirts that will attract any form of molestation and rape by hooligans.” Said a report.
The community of Mkpuma therefore deserve commendation says a female politician and former Assistant Secretary General of Arewa Consultative forum, Fatima Eunice Ibrahim who spoke to Nigerian Pilot Saturday, in her reaction to the rescue of the teenager. “The elderly people in that village have shown the significance of sanitising their community. They used wisdom in handling the matter”, said Ibrahim.
It all started when a farmer, Ejike Nwuzor tried to molest the girl but was caught by another farmer, Oliver Nwegede while working on his farm and heard a girl screamed. “The girl was struggling with Nwuzor, crying and begging him to leave her alone”. Nwegede said.
But unknown to him, another farmer in the bush also heard the girl’s screaming and stormed the scene of the crime but the alleged rapist had already torn the girl’s clothes. Both farmers quickly got a wrapper from a woman in the farm to cover the girl’s nakedness.
The farmers then went ahead to report the matter to the villagers who instructed young men in the village to parade Nwuzor round the community, forcing him to dance to disgraceful songs which they chanted, with the show of shame lasting four hours.
As if that wasn’t enough humiliation, elders of Mkpuma later tortured Nwuzor. They ordered him to offset medical bill of the assaulted girl with a threat to ostracise him if he is ever caught in such dastardly act.
The 12-year old was returning from an errand and on a lonely path in the village when she heard someone whisper and then Nwuzor came out of the bush and dragged her into a corner.
Meanwhile Police Spokesman in the area, one Chris Anyanwu said he was yet to receive official report on the matter as at the time of writing this piece.
Lessons to learn include:
1) In simple manner, the community made it clear to everyone that rape or any form of violence against women or the girl-child will not be tolerated.
2) Elders have roles to play in curbing rape and related offences.
3) The show of shame, with threat to ostracise alleged rapist will deter others, the youth who chanted disgraceful songs could also face the same treatment.
4) Women or mothers should de-emphasise culture of silence, be mindful of dark corners, lonely places and evil tendencies of stalkers while keeping an eye on their daughters’ style of dressing.
5) Innovative preventive strategies as shown by farmers are result oriented.
6) Experience has shown lack of serious commitment on the part of law enforcement agents, who may never get official reports on violence especially in remote villages, leading to stigmatisation, maiming and death of victims.
However, the Bill or landmark legislation on rape and related offences by the Seventh Senate is good development. But all hands must be on deck for rape prevention and education or enlightenment with the goal to strengthen sexual violence prevention efforts at the local, state, and national level, to prevent violence before it even begins.
By so doing prevention will be the cornerstone of reducing risk factors and eliminating rape and other violence while incorporating behaviour and social change in the society.
Investigations showed that victimisation often occurs for the first time before the age of 25 as woman who were victims reported being first raped before the age of 18, while others were first raped between the ages of 18-24 with most being by someone known to the victims, as well as other acquaintances.