In a world where numerous infections are taking the lives of innocent people, sexual abuse is one of the most dangerous. It is an infection that has eaten deep into the society, one for which a cure hasn’t been discovered.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, rape is defined as “an unlawful sexual activity and usually, sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or usually under threat of injury against a person’s will or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness or deception.”
When we hear the word “rape” what comes to mind by default is “Resistance” by the victim. This, I believe is the reason we are swift to condemn victims of rape who come out to share an ordeal in which there was little or no form of resistance. However, resistance is not the scale to measure what amounts to rape, rather it is the lack of consent.
Under the Criminal Code of Nigeria, Rape is defined, in simple terms as having unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or using threats or intimidation of any kind or by fear of harm or through misrepresenting to be the husband of the woman, or, having carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 14 years with or without her consent (Statutory Rape), or, a girl with unsound mind.
The after-effects of sexual abuse cannot be stressed enough. A victim may face threats from the rapist, and in some cases, violence from their own family and relatives. The act of sexual abuse is not one that can be gotten over easily. Its survivors become traumatized and most likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which puts them at a higher risk for suicide. Other repercussions of rape may include unwanted pregnancy, sexual dysfunction, psychological pain, sexually transmitted infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, depression, hostility towards the opposite sex, etc. Some sexual abuse apologists claim the fault lies with the victims because they got drunk, slept naked, were not properly dressed, walked late at night, visited a friend of the opposite sex who lives alone or slept over there. Contrary to these appalling notions, sexual abuse is more about the abuse of power and sexual gratification than sexual attraction; after all, some men have found themselves in such situations and acted with chivalry. These excuses or reasons are unjustifiable.
As vicious as the act of sexual abuse is, you would be surprised at these facts presented by the Palomar College Police Department;
- 9 out of 10 rapes are never reported.
- Over 70% of rapes are committed by someone with whom the victim is acquainted.
- 1 out of every 4 women over the age of 14 will be sexually assaulted at least once in her lifetime.
Rape, as seen above, is one of the most under-reported crimes and this is largely due to; an inadequate support system for the victims, disesteem of the victim and fear (of retaliation from the rapist, of being blamed by the society, of social stigmatization). This isn’t an upbringing problem neither is it a gender problem but rather a psychological problem. Our mind needs to be fed with the right information, after all, we are what we listen to. The things we watch/listen to gradually creep into our subconscious, and when we least expect it, they start to shape our lives and control our pattern of behaviour. Until we are properly educated and sensitized about this issue, we may never become immune to this hideous infection that has led to the demise of many.