CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN AND UNDERAGED GIRLS IN NIGERIA: A WIDESPREAD EPIDEMIC
Over the course of six weeks, I followed various stories in the area of Crime, specifically crimes perpetrated against women and underage girls in Nigeria. These crimes ranged from rape to blackmail (sextortion) and in some cases, murder. In all these cases, two common denominators seem to be the lack of respect for the bodies and dignity of the average Nigerian female by the men of this country, and the exploitative use of our bodies as objects of sexual pleasure or gratification. Out of the six cases followed over the course of this project, four of the victims were underage girls. The frequency of these attacks is shocking and makes one question just how safe a place Nigeria is for women and children, as the perpetrators of these crimes seem to be everywhere. They are lovers, boyfriends, and step-fathers, so called Men of God, and even members of the police force and law enforcement, men who have sworn to protect.
CONSEQUENCES OF THIS ISSUE ON THE VICTIMS AND THE SOCIETY AT LARGE
The consequences and devastating effects of this on the victims and the society at large cannot be over-emphasized. For the victims, the physical and mental trauma is just the beginning of their problems. They have to deal with all sorts of complications, from social stigma to unwanted pregnancies, STDs and in extreme cases, death. There is the constant fear for those of us that are not victims, the constant fear that one day we will be the ones being raped and molested and written about in newspapers, the constant feeling that you are not safe. It makes the society an unsafe place for women of all ages, from little girls who should never have to experience such violent abuse to grown women who go through unspeakable things at the hands of men they trust.
HOW ARE THE ISSUES REPORTED BY THE MEDIA?
The issues are reported by the media in a detailed manner. The newspaper articles contain full accounts of the events that take place when these crimes are committed, with statements from all the parties involved-the victims, the parents of the victims, witnesses and the authorities handling the case. Confessional statements from interviews with the suspects are also recorded in these articles, as well as the actions being taken against them as a consequence of the crimes they have committed. There are also follow-up articles or updates on any new developments in the cases.
Summaries and snapshots of the news articles are listed below:
WEEK 1: CHURCH WORKER NABBED FOR TAKING GIRLFRIEND’S NUDE PICTURES
A church protocol officer named Victor Duru was nabbed for taking nude pictures of his girlfriend of his girlfriend at gunpoint and using the pictures he obtained to blackmail her for large sums of money. He also exploited and blackmailed many other women in this same manner. In her statement to the police, his girlfriend narrated how he obtained nudes from her at gun-point with the aid of an accomplice. In his confessional statement, Duru revealed that the name of this accomplice was a man named Frank Obinna. Duru would take the ladies to a hotel at Ijeshetedo and Obinna would pose as a waiter in the hotel. A toy gun was used and it was Obinna that would hold the ladies at gunpoint while Duru advised them to co-operate and take off their clothes. They would then use the pictures as leverage to demand for exorbitant amounts of money which his girlfriend and many other victims provided.
WEEK 2: NINE YEAR OLD DAUGHTER OF A POLICEWOMAN IS RAPED BY HER COLLEAUGE
On the 14th of November to an Ikeja sexual Offences and Domestic Violence a 45 year-old policewoman (her name, as well as that of her daughter is withheld) testified in court about how a fellow police officer named Mohammed Alidu allegedly raped her nine-year old daughter in a police barrack. According to the policewoman, the defendant accosted her daughter on her way back from school, dragged her into his apartment, and raped her. Shortly after the incident the victim was said to have gone to the police station to report the incident. According to her, Alidu forcefully took her to his apartment, put her on a bed, tore her underwear, and defiled her. The policewoman said that her daughter was taken to the Mirabel Centre (a sexual assault referral Centre) for medical attention, where it was confirmed that she was indeed raped. Mohammed was arrested at his residence. In his confessional statement he begged that they should forgive him and drop his case, saying that what he had done was the work of the devil.
WEEK 3: MAN, 51, RAPES 13 YEAR OLD STEP-DAUGHTER IN DELTA
Sunday Ojo, 51, allegedly raped his 13 year old step daughter, beat her and drowned her in a bucket of water on October 16th, 2019 at the White House, Effurun, in Delta state. The teenager fell unconscious after been raped and was found by her mother with bloodstains all over her body. She was rushed to a general hospital in Warri, where she was given first aid. She regained consciousness after seven days. Ojo has been on the run since, and his brother was arrested in his place, although he was later released.
WEEK 4: 75 YEAR OLD MAN IN NASSARAWA NABBED FOR DEFILING A THREE YEAR OLD GIRL
Ali Isah, a 75 year old man was arrested by the Nassarawa State Command of the Nigeria Civil Defense Corps for allegedly defiling his neighbours. The suspect was arrested on Monday in Kandere village following a report lodged by the villagers. In an interview with PUNCH correspondent, the suspect confessed to the crime, accusing ‘spiritual forces’ for his actions.
WEEK 5: 19 YEAR OLD YAHOO BOY ALLEGEDLY SETS 24 YEAR OLD GIRLFRIEND ABLAZE FOR CHEATING
A nineteen year old man Victor Orji was arrested by the operatives of Iba police station for setting his 24 year old girlfriend Mariam Alabi on fire because he suspected she was cheating on him. This took place on the 17th of December 2019 at his place of residence. She died on Sunday the 18th because her burns were so severe. Orji confessed to the crime, explaining how he met her as a prostitute and offered to take her in on the condition that she stops prostitution, but she went back on the agreement. He saw details of a night she spent with another man on her phone and became so angry he doused her in petrol and set her ablaze. He will be charged for murder.
WEEK 6: PASTOR DEFILES, IMPREGNATES 16 YEAR OLD PUPIL IN OGUN
The pastor of a white garment church in Ogun State, Prophet Sunday Adelaja was taken into police custody for allegedly raping and impregnating a 16 year old girl. He allegedly raped the 16 year old pupil twice, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy. According to the girl’s statement, the pastor invited her to his home under the pretext of wanting to ask her some questions, but ended up molesting her instead. He threatened her to keep what had transpired to herself and make herself available to him on demand. One week after the encounter, she was accosted by him while she was running an errand for her mother. He took her to his house and raped her again. She became pregnant but was forced to keep it a secret by Adelaja. Her mother noticed five months into the pregnancy and took her to the hospital. The suspect confessed to the crime and has been arrested.
These stories are all from last year, which was when i did this assignment. I’m sharing it now because they are still relevant, and they expose how deeply rape culture and violence against women is rooted in our society. Every day women and girls are taken advantage of, sexually assaulted, raped and killed. When does it end?