R’ape is a conscious process of intimidation wherein perpetrators keep women and children especially, in a state of constant fear. R’ape devalues the victim. It is a crime which stigmatises the emotions, a crime of insult, oppression and revenge that needs to be punished because a rapist is a criminal and all crimes and their beneficiaries must be punished.
In Nigeria, there has been an increasing number of r’ape and s’exual harassment cases on a keen keel. April 27, 2016, a total number of 150 reported cases of s’exual and physical abuse were recorded in Lagos State. Here’s a piece of r’ape incident written by Michale Matthew:
I write this incidence with lots of mortification and great concern for what the next generation will be like in Nigeria if we do not quickly get to work repairing and paying them attention. Our elders have led their lives and we the generation who follow the baby boomers must hunker down and correct the ills in our back yards and community. It’s a common saying that evil prevails when good men do nothing. Today the 3rd of May 2017, I almost saw this evil happen. ‘Almost’ because I got so moved in my spirit with great indignation that I decided to speak up.
I am in my office about 4pm waiting for my driver to bring my older son from school so we can get home on time to prepare the younger one for his common entrance exams into secondary school coming up in two weeks. I called the driver and he said he was around and as I leave my nieces office upstairs, I hear a lot of shouting and commotion outside our office. I then ask the receptionist what it was about and he says it’s the secondary school student who have finished their final exams tearing their clothes. I mumble to my self that if any of them were my children I will deal with them. As they don’t earn money so how can they tear what was bought for them.
Suffice to say I give my older son who is helping me with my bags that speech and we head out into the car. As we come outside the noise is overwhelming and as my son kept saying when we were later discussing what happened, he described it as being very intense when we had a chance to discuss the events that followed as people were running and upon my looking closer I saw pockets of people actually students and then girls running with palpable fear in their faces. At this point I quickly enter my car to leave so one doesn’t meet what ever the problem was and to avoid traffic too. And as we entered the car and I look a bit closely at a crowd of boys who have surrounded two persons on the floor who appear to be fighting. Their shouting overpowers any other sound and looking closely I see the most unreal thing. It’s actually a boy trying to force himself on a girl with his trousers partly down and the boys are cheering him on.
People are looking and some persons the security guards in the office near us are recording it. I open my car in disbelief and shout on the boys to break it up while shouting at my security and the second driver to assist me. I walk towards them and as I make my way towards them I see another group and this time they have cornered one of the the girls who fell while running from them. In almost a surreal way I am looking but not quickly processing. I see her kicked down, she bravely pushes her self up and another guy tries to clear her legs and she lunges at him and then a guy takes a pair of scissors in his hands and with one swoop tears her skirt from the bottom and also a part of the black spanx shorts she has on underneath. All this happens really in a few minutes and he proceeds to push himself into her through her back. His trousers is open too and another one tries to do same from the front. As this is going on the crowd of boys are wild with frenzy, cheering the two boys on, while grabbing at her hair, b’reasts and she is fighting for dear life. I am still making my way towards the first group but they bolt when they see me coming and when I see them do so I move ahead and rush towards the second group this time shouting at the top of my lungs at my own office security, the office next door and thankfully mine follow me and when they see us coming they break up and run but there more girls running back.
I reach the girl and we gather her things together. She ties the torn skirt around her spanx shorts like a wrapper and holds onto to me.
I see the boys have run forwards and stopped, waiting for me to enter my car while threatening other teenage school girls still. I have a crowd of over 25 girls huddled together frantically telling me their various ordeal. I ask them to take another route back and am told if the go back from where they are coming there is another group behind and the our office road is a crescent so they are technically locked in. And most of them have their skirts ripped as they claim the boys in the various groups have scissors on them. Further questioning tells me the best way is to go out is towards the other side but since they are too scared to go I ask my security, some other men have come out to escort them too, with myself as the only adult female and there begins over an hours walk towards the obalende roundabout from off awolowo road in Ikoyi. We meet other girls who have had their clothes ripped as the boys fled once the boys realized I was not backing up. The boys would reach a distance and stop to taunt the girls. We now had a crowd of over 60 girls who needed to get safely to the bus stop and find their way home. We ( being myself and the other men escorting the girls) start talking about how to get hold of one of the boys so we can use him as an example. At this point I call a friend and ask for a Mopol to be sent to me. I describe my location. My attention is drawn to another girl who had just been manhandled by the fleeing boys. A woman warns the girls to beware as the boys have spilt up and are waiting as some live in that locality. We then break into three groups to escort the girls to their various bus or home points. I take the two girls whom I saw personally manhandled and begin to make careful inquiries.
Feedback shows that they go to a senior high school called Falomo Senior High School next to Ireti grammar school that these boys go to. Today was both schools final day after which they will come only to collect their results from Wednesday of the following week so the boys who had already started raping some girls last week now planned this brazen rape and manhandling activity. They had also stolen their phones and transport money. We then made arrangements to transport them home. By now the mopol has come. He walks me to obalende under bridge to put the two girls and their friends going to Yaba into a bus. This is not before I get the names of the boys as George and Abiodun as the main perpetrators, they are final year students of Ireti Grammar School SW Ikoyi. I call a friend and am told to take pictures but most of the girls have gone but we were able to take pictures of at least 7 girls with me who had torn clothes in various stages of disarray. I give my number to the only girl left with a phone and this was because she put it into her spanx shorts as she wore two and used one to roll her phone into it. I am amazed at this whole thing and we agree that they should come through to my office on Wednesday of the following week but I will go ahead and make a report to the two schools tomorrow and begin finding these evil boys so we can use them as examples to deter other from this abominable behavior perpetrated in broad day light. One of the girls says she can identify them. She gives me her number. I ask my security to ensure he receives them at 9am when we agreed to meet.
I turn and leave but I will never be the same again. The evil is terrible. The lack of regard and the indignity. My mind runs through and is still running through all I have seen. I have a friend who normally stops to help distressed persons or attend to traffic situation and I always warn him to desist and he will say someone has to do it. Today I am most grateful I was that someone. I had other people join me especially a man who saw me and said madam a girl was raped last week by this office. Am tired of this. Removed his tie and followed me. They stayed with me till the last set of kids entered the bus and as they came so they left when we got done. I did not get to say thank you to them. My older son was like mum, they must be angels or Jesus. Actually he said the man that followed me first must be Jesus. I don’t know who he was but if he ever reads this post my heartfelt thank you to him for that large hearted action.
God is kind oh, that there are still good men but we must speak up and as such I am following up to ensure we do something collectively to help the boys of this school as I believe mentoring is required if this cycle is to be broken but the ones who committed this dastardly act must be brought to book first. I ask those in authority to look into this as I am told it’s quite prevalent.
God bless Nigeria and we all have a part in ensuring the blessing.
By Michale Matthew