Rape: Curbing the root cause

By Onyinyechi Nwankwo

It has become worrisome on how our society has not given the attention that is needed to fight against the biasness towards rape victims and perpetrators of this evil act. This has led so many girls to their early graves and shattered the dreams of those who are still living with the trauma.

It is no longer news that some victims of rape have remained mute because of lack of trust in the judicial process, shame, fear or risk of retaliation, fear or risk of being blamed, fear or risk of not being believed, fear or risk of being mistreated and/or socially ostracized among many other reasons. However, there are practical steps that could bring about reduction to this heinous act.

PANACEA TO RAPE

  1. Boys/men need to be trained
  2. Creation of rehabilitation centre for perpetrators of such crimes
  3. Legal responses
  4. Faith based programmes

Men/boys need home training

The scripture says, train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he’d not depart from it. A child in that statement means it could be a boy or a girl. Our society believes in training the girl child mostly because she’d one day become someone’s wife and mother. Whereas there’s none in place for the male child, forgetting that the boy child would grow up to become a husband and a father.

Take for instance, there are two families. Family A and Family B. Family A has two kids a girl and a boy respectively. While family B has a boy and a girl respectively. The girl in family A would be trained to take care of her younger brother. But in family B the boy won’t be trained to take care of his younger sister. This is seen in most families. We hear statements like, my little daughter cares so much for her baby brother whenever you leave them together. Or my son always tries to poke his baby sister’s eyes or pinches her whenever you leave them together. When the kids become teens the girl child would be made to come by 6pm but the boy could come back at any time so long as it’s safe. We’d tell the girl child not to engage in premarital sex. We practically make a long list of ‘do nots’ for the girl child. Nobody tells the boy child not engage in premarital sex. There’s no long list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ for the boy child.

We unconsciously don’t train the boy child, leaving them to figure out how to live their own way. That’s why we have badly raised men/boys threatening the girl child and the society at large. However, there’re bad eggs in the female folks but you can’t compare the ratio to that of the male folks.

Creation of Rehabilitation Centre for Perpetrators of such Crimes

Now the victim of rape most times is taken care of. She might get medical care, psychological help and faith-based help just to bring her back to her normal self. This is beautiful! And if she gets back on her feet, she’d help other girls to get back on their feet by creating platforms that’d address the mess she went through. Not every victim does this though.

This is not so for the perpetrator. A guy rapes a lady and goes free even after being arrested and jailed. He goes about his normal life like nothing happened. And if another situation shows up again where he’d have to rape another girl, he’d do it. Research has proven that perpetrators of such crime who blame their victims are likely to do it again whereas those who feel remorse for their actions may never do it again.

The perpetrator (s) of rape need help too. Most times nobody cares what he is going through, or to find out if he needs help or not. Time and again if the perpetrator is offered help he’d not take it seriously because he is a man and meant to be strong. Being strong doesn’t mean you have to be strong all by yourself. Society has told men not to show their emotions. They have to man up and get over those feelings. They die inside but come out in the open to show off that everything is fine. And the problem keeps reoccurring. There’s rarely much social pressure to control young men or persuade them that coercing sex on their female counterparts is wrong. Rather you see some males hail their friends for coercing sex. Men who do not act in a traditionally masculine way are detested by their peers and considered effeminate. Some try to prove to their peers that they are real men by engaging in such heinous act. A real man is a man who is strong and tender at heart.

There is evidence to suggest that sexual violence is a learned behavior in some adults, particularly in regard to child sexual abuse. If sexual violence is learned, it can be unlearned as well. All we need do is put the structure, facilities and human resources together and we’d be on our way to help culprits of rape. However, there’s need to create rehabilitation centre for such people. If not, there won’t be an end/reduction to such crime.

Faith-Based Programmes

Religious counseling, support groups, education programs, study groups and assistance programs can address the issue of rape with their participants/worshippers. Most religions emphasize the importance of peace and tolerance. Framing a discussion on violence in the context of religious tenets is one way to foster awareness and discussion of the problem. It may also be a way to identify and assist victims and perpetrators who do not feel comfortable talking to a health care provider or police officer.

Legal Responses

The criminalization of all forms of gender-based violence – domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, psychological violence etc. has been an important step in eliminating it. What remains is the consistent application of these laws, the implementation of penalties, and a greater focus on rehabilitating convicted perpetrators. Other legal responses to violence include: legal aid services; training of police and judicial personnel; women’s police stations; legal advocacy and lobbying; training of family, criminal, immigration and juvenile court lawyers and bar association advocacy.

Media

The media has a huge role to play in sensitizing its audience on the consequences of violence on the health, economic and social well-being of their victims and the society at large. The media is a key conduit for making violence visible through advertising, informing policy-makers and educating the public about legal rights and how to recognize and address violence. Newspapers, magazines, newsletters, radio, television, the music industry, film, theatre, the internet, posters, leaflets, community notice boards, libraries and direct mail are all channels for providing information to victims and the general public about prevention and available services.

This is the time is to fight this evil. We all have a role to play in the fight against sexual abuse and rape of women in our society. We have to choose to stand and speak up against violence.

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