Rape is a forceful sexual act by an individual on another whose express consent wasn’t given usually with the threat of violence and deadly weapons. It is an express violation of human rights and it is most often practiced on the female gender. In the result released, 85 percent of the people polled indicated that rape is a prevalent crime.
Out of 3 females between the ages of 1 – 25 years have been sexually assaulted in the past either by a stranger, a family member or a neighbor. Statistics show that rape cases are being under-reported to the law enforcement agency though the poll indicated that 67 percent of the people polled acknowledged that the offenders were arrested.
For centuries now, there has been an imbalance in gender equality and the female gender has been the recipient of this imbalance. This imbalance has brought about the tremendous misrepresentation of women right at the level of the family down to the circular society. An average Nigerian woman is often seen as an object for prostitution, forced marriage, street hawking and an all-round instrument of trafficking. However, to achieve an all-round inclusive society, there are issues that needs to be addressed.
It is one of the most widespread, devastating yet heavily concealed crime worldwide in physical, sexual and psychological forms which include but not limited to intimate partner violence, sexual violence and harassment, sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking and in some extreme cases death. Others include human trafficking, female genital mutilation and child marriage. Additionally, statistics have shown that 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime mostly by an intimate partner or a close relative.
Also, 750 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday, while 200 million women have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). Statistics also show that there is a 7% decline in the number of people who are either victims or know a victim of domestic violence. Does this mean that the rate at which women are being domestically violated is declining? Not necessarily. The decline however can however mean that the crime is not being reported or is being concealed. But why?
The world is highly patriarchal in nature and this imbalance gives rise to the ill-treatment dotted out on women, the restraint placed on women and the parameters set for women’s structurally unequal position in families and markets. It also condones gender-differential terms in inheritance rights and legal adulthood, by tacitly condoning domestic and sexual violence and sanctioning differential wages for equal or comparable work.
Tradition or culture and religion have dictated men and women’s relationship for centuries and entrenched male domination into the structure of social organization and institution at all levels of leadership. Patriarchy justifies the marginalization of women in education, economy, labour market, politics, business, family, domestic matters and inheritance. Also this culture of patriarchy is a very strong determinant of male dominance over female allowing for the stigmatization of women in domestic violence cases.
An average woman would rather report a sexual abuse, assault or harassment to her family or friends instead of reporting to the appropriate agency for fear of stigmatization, blame, embarrassment and to save the image of her family or loved ones especially in instances where the assaulter is a close relative or an intimate partner.
Women are generally blamed in instances or situations of domestic violence when such cases are reported to the authorities. Questions like “What were you doing there”, “What were you wearing”, “Did you try to scream for help”, “What did you say to provoke him”, “Is there a witness to corroborate your story”, “Aren’t you two married”, are always the point of focus with underlying tone of blame on the victim and not the culprit. The society does not recognize that modest or indecent dressing isn’t an invitation to being harassed, raped or molested, being married is not an invitation to being raped or beaten by a partner, anger issues isn’t a justification to being beaten, poverty, unemployment or self-esteem would never be a justification neither should children be a reason to stay in an abusive marriage.
As the celebration continues, it is expedient that to achieve an all-inclusive society for all genders, domestic violence against women should be heavily discouraged and penalized. The effect of this menace is rather disturbing on the victims and the young generation as many females turn out to be man-haters.
All stakeholders should create a culture of actively speaking against domestic violence, penalizing violators and rehabilitating victims. The culture of reporting to family to save the family’s image should also be heavily discouraged as it is the leading cause of death, terminal illnesses and injury in women aged under 45. It is not a crime that should be dealt with internally but rather exposed to prevent and discourage the continuance and serve as a lesson to other violators.
Lastly, the world should be radically re-orientated on the ills of domestic violence, acts that constitute domestic violence and the need for an all-inclusive society with no gender discrimination or male dominance.