Ima Nkanta

Rape, rapists, cultists, drunks, drug addicts, criminals; these all have one Identity: evil. Rape is evil. No sane person courts or excuses evil for anything. Evil has one colour and it’s black. It represents darkness.

At a time when we are still pinning away with the scourge of coronavirus pandemic; now another agent of darkness comes knocking and leaving many homes and communities devastated. The rape-demic is spreading fast in our country, attracting negative global reports, with US warning her citizens to avoid our clime.

Imagine the consequences we now collectively suffer because of the rape and murder of the young undergrad of the University of Benin inside the hallowed chamber of God, where worship is lifted to the Almighty. This inglorious and wicked act has brought a lot of attacks on the church, shame and pain to the family of the victim.

I sheded tears as I listened to the most celebrated and revered clergy, Pastor E. A. Adeboye fought back tears as he condemned in most strong terms the evil of rape, particularly as one of his numberless daughters became not just a victim of rape but of untimely death in the hands of rapists.

While he solicited for prayers to expose and arrest the culprits, he warned of instant judgment on perpetrators now and in future. The tears of Pastor Adeboye will not be sheded in vain. The God who has been answering his prayers will answer this heart-wrenching prayers in no time.

All ears are on ground to hear police announce the arrest of suspects. It would be a big relief, as it would bring consolation to the torn hearts of believers, family of the victim and the public who are eager to see justice take place on the rape and gruesome murder of the young lady.

But while we mourn, pray and wait; there’s a worrisome angle to the rape-demic that we must pay attention to. It is how the law enforcement agents respond to victims of rape who go to report rape cases that need urgent review. The police discouraging response approach to rape cases may account for why many victims of rape shy away from approaching them for arrest and prosecution of alleged rapists.

A few year ago, I stumbled on a case in a neighbourhood where a two year old girl was sexually molested. The mother rallied the neighbours to help her hold the molester accountable for the crime to no avail. The agonizing woman was later advised to report the suspect to the police. There, at the police station, she was asked to bring the medical report to show proof of the molestation of the girl. Alas! She was helpless because she was now faced with a complex situation. She headed to the hospital with her daughter but the gatemen at one of the public health facilities in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State turned her back because doctors were on strike and her child’s case was not an emergency.

She narrated how she went back to the police and was asked to deposit money so the police could mobilize to arrest the suspect who was still walking free in the neighbourhood, even after being accosted by the mother of the girl, alongside some of her co-residents. She spent a whole day on the road to get justice without success.

The police allegedly failed to carry out their responsibility to apprehend the suspect because the helpless woman couldn’t get the money demanded. And finally, the case died, the molester was emboldened to go ahead with his wicked deeds. But the scar of molestation on the child stays on.

But this is no longer the case. Access to justice on cases of rape and girl child molestation has been made easy by the work of the wife of the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel through FEYReP and the Ministry of Women Affairs Commissioner, Dr. Glory Edet. The governor’s wife, in collaboration with other women leaders, have helped to drum up awareness on the evil of sexual abuse on the female gender. These efforts have led to the arrest and prosecution of many culprits with twenty five convictions, according to the Commissioner for Agriculture and Women Affairs, Dr. Glory Edet, secured so far in Akwa Ibom State.

I watched her closely discussing the disturbing rape case spike in Akwa Ibom State recently. The pain, stigma and emotional disturbance victims of rape go through, made her vow that perpetrators will no longer be spared but apprehended.

I have no doubt that the governor’s wife, Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel and Dr. Glory Edet will achieve good results in the campaign against rape and other sexual violence of the female gender.

But I am worried about other partners in the success of this campaign – the police, hospitals and community leaders.

Oftentimes, victims of rape cases are ashamed to make it open. When they brave up to report these cases to the police, they need encouragement and protection to follow through investigation and the process of getting justice.

The campaign against these crimes should be taken to the police also and let them know that roadblocks like requesting for transport money from victims, should be discouraged to help the already traumatized victims obtain justice without further trauma. The police and hospitals should show serious concern and make the process of obtaining medical report and police report on rape and sexual molestations of the female folks, easy. The police, especially should see victims of rape with eyes of compassion, and not attempt to extort money from them in the name of mobilisation for arrest of suspect. But this is not to conclude the police have not been doing a good job, in fact the Inspector General of Police has recently confirmed over four hundred rape cases reported in the first half of 2020. Kudos! But more effort expected as the crime of rape appears so rampaging.

It is commendable that the campaign against rape by Akwa Ibom State Government has been extended to churches, with pastors urged to speak out against these vices. Same energy should be deployed to the police stations, medical facilities and family institutions. At the federal government level, efforts have been devoted lately to establish a justice system that will enable rape victims have quick access to justice. It is hoped that this will further help achieve results.

Unimpeded access to justice is the surest way of minimizing the rape-demic. And with the high profile personalities like Pastor Adeboye joining the fight against rape, success is ahead.

Quest News 24

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