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A SUSTAINABLE PANACEA FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

By Paula Oko

One of the major reasons for sexual violence is to exercise control or power. A sexual predator is very aware that there are laws in place that if caught, will lead to severe punishment yet will continue to harass their victim because they believe that they are in charge or will get away with this act.

For a long time, we have tried to organize trainings, seminars or even talk shows on radio and television talking about sexual violence, the consequence and why people shouldn’t engage in it but we have failed to realize that sexual violence is a thing of the mind. Sometimes an event triggers it and other times the circumstance or environment can also lead to someone committing sexual violence. These are just few reasons why we have high cases of this catastrophic act. This is by no means an excuse for abusers, it’s just pointing out the obvious that we tend to ignore or we would rather not address.

 How are we supposed to identify a person capable of sexual violence when it’s not written on their forehead? How are we supposed to know when waking up in the morning that this is the day I will be sexually violated?  Are they signs that I missed or ignored? These are questions that have been asked so many times and there is probably no correct answers to them. There is nobody on earth that will knowingly put themselves in a position where they will be violated and this is sad because most victims of sexual violence tend to blame themselves.   

The truth is that, most times, there are no signs or any signals to show what is to happen, it just happens and that is why the best way to tackle the problem of sexual violence is to make provisions so people can be well informed about the people they are in contact with, in their environment, or faces and names that they should beware of or even areas and buildings that are should be avoided.

In recent times, we have the case of Hinny Umoren a 24 year old graduate in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state in Nigeria, who sent out a tweet seeking for a job. She got many job offers in her replies and when she went to meet one of the people that offered her a job on twitter, she was raped and killed. It’s sad what happened to this young lady and we should also note that, she followed every precautious means available to her before she met her killer. She had informed her sister and her best friend about the job interview, she had given them the man’s phone number and even given them the address of where this interview was to take place yet this didn’t help her. It was a voice note that she recorded and sent on WhatsApp that made the friend realize that something was amiss and quickly went on twitter to post about it and this led to more people being aware of the situation and others even helping to investigate. It’s important to note here, that when the friend posted the picture and name of the suspect, a lot of women came forward as his past victims and started to share details of their encounter with this man and that’s how the world got to know that this man is a serial rapist.

Imagine if Nigeria had a database where sex offenders and their details were posted and updated regularly, this could have maybe prevented the sad case of Hinny and other women before her. We need a database where people can share the details of their experience in the hands of predators. This could be a two edged sword in the sense that people may want to use this database to tarnish the image of others. A checkmate system will come to play here, if someone is able to provide evidence of their claims and this evidence is also verified by the administrators of this database then it should be posted on the site. 

This can be achievable because we already have websites and even social media pages that are dedicated to letting the public know about scam interviews and fake companies. Even Africa’s largest online forum Nairaland has been known to help people verify if a company or business is real. So a database for sexual offenders is necessary to help curb this act.

There is still a lot of stigma that comes with being a victim of sexual violence. A lot of these women bottle up their fears and all the rage they have inside them because they’re scared of being labeled. If there is a hotline or a site where these women can reach out and speak to counsellors, this is going to help a lot of women get their groove back and move on from the sad event. 

Parents should start giving their children sexual education lessons from an early age. The parents should also ensure that they teach their children the right names and pronunciation of their body parts so these children can speak up if they have been touched. Parents need to stop giving private part nicknames and call them their actual names so the kids will grow up and know that their body is not a joke.

Women should be well educated on defensive techniques they can use to defend themselves from sexual predators. These could be through physical skills like the right places to hit or strike when being attacked or with the help of some products for example pepper spray. 

The sad truth is, the world will always have men who will be sexual predators but that doesn’t mean that we will give up because it simply means we need to rise up to the task and make sure that women are well armed with all the right information, and the right backings of society so they won’t fall prey. Remember that the sexual violation act may occur in a short period of time but the effect it will have in the woman’s life is longer and in some cases they never go away. Please speak up when you know about any act of sexual violence against women and also come out to support or defend people you see being harassed or violated. Never forget that there is power in numbers.