Taking a phrase from the last words of George Floyd before he died after a white police cop knelt on his neck in Minneapolis, “I can’t breathe”, it is almost the same with many Nigerian girl child and women, given the high rate of risk they are exposed to.
No gainsaying the fact that the last few days have further revealed that the girl child and women are facing so much heat from the society, ranging from gender violence to rape, sexual harassment among other factors that make it difficult for them to breathe.
Before now, there have been arguments back and forth about indecent dressing as one of the reasons why rapists take advantage of ladies, however, two out of the recent instances show that the argument about dressing is not a genuine excuse for rapists.
At first, Uwa Omozuwa, an undergraduate student of the University of Benin was raped and murdered in church premises where she went to study and this has again made it clear the extent to which rapists can go to carry out their dastard and evil acts.
Rapists On Rampage
One will think that Church and Mosque should be one of the institutions where people can run to for cover, but, it was rather unfortunate that Uwa was raped and murdered in the Benin city province of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG.
Though, the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, the General overseer of the RCCG, Pastor Adejare Adeboye and the Nation’s President, Muhammadu Buhari among others have condemned Uwa’s death and vowed to ensure her family get Justice.
This vow cannot erase the fact that the 22-year-old lady died as a victim of a society with an Institution that lacks the capability to protect her and other ladies from dying before their time.
Unfortunately, while many Nigerians were still trying to get over the pain caused by the gruesome murder of Uwa, another news about rape surfaced on the internet on Wednesday, June 3 about an eighteen-year-old Barakat Bello, who was also raped and murdered in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
According to sources, Barakat, who was alone in her father’s house was killed for resisting attempts by her killers to rape her which later led to her been raped and killed.
Before her untimely death, Barakat too was a year 1 student of Federal college of animal health and production n Ibadan.
This is an indication that she had many good plans for her life and future, but for the sake of selfishness on the parts of her killers, all her dreams were thrown into the bin within a few minutes.
After the death of Uwa, there have been public outcry and campaign against rape on different social media platforms with people coming up with different tags against rape, sexual harassment and other gender-based issues that is making it difficult for girl child and women to breathe in the country.
At a point, there was a hashtag on Twitter about why rape victims did not report after they were raped #Whyididntreport, under this hashtag, many people have different reasons for not reporting the person or persons who violated them.
One of the reasons is that, even if they had reported, the case will be buried for lack of evidence or unavailability of the right machinery to see and ensure that Justice is done to discourage others who might be tempted to toe the line of raping girl child or getting involved in sexual harassment.
Though President of the National Assembly, Senator Ahmad Lawan charged state Assemblies to work around the penal code to put a stop to rape and other forms of sexual harassment in their respective states as he also urged the federal government to do more in order to stop the act.
But, more than talks and social media campaign, it is imperative to note that it might be very difficult to put a stop to rape and other things which make girl child feel unsafe if the right machinery is not put in place to address the root cause of the issue.
Over the years, there have been reports about rape and other forms of harassment, but, sometimes, because the victim feels insecure to narrate her ordeals, such incident will have to be swept under the carpet.
Another thing that seems to fuel this act is Injustice which has made many resign to a fate where and when they need to speak up so the law can take its course on people who raped them.
Therefore, it is important for the Executive, Judicial and Legislative arms of government in the country to show the readiness to address the root cause of this issue without which it might keep growing from bad to worse.
However, the family also has its role in addressing this issue as it has become very clear that the failure of some parents to teach their children the need to be disciplined and responsible is rubbing on the society and causing tears for others who have trained their children.
Family, Church, Mosque, Schools and other institution need to wake up to the reality that they can do better in ensuring that rape is reduced to the barest minimum or better still become a thing of the past to make the society safe for not only the girl child but for everyone.
Furthermore, there is the need to address things that have been serving as fuel for this act, these include but not limited to music and movies that glorify drug abuse, drunkenness, nudity, pornography, sex for marks among others.
More than writing things to speak against rape, Nigerian celebrities have so much they need to do in addressing the issue so they don’t come up with tags and mere talks each time such issue arises.
The content of their music, movies, skits and comedies need to be well thought out such that it could serve the purpose of entertaining and teaching morals without making the girl child look like a sex toy.
If these and some other fundamental issues can be thoroughly addressed, it is very certain that in no distant time, Nigerian girl child, women and everyone will be able to breathe well and not suffer what George Floyd suffered in the hands of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis.