Sexual violence can have widespread consequences not only violating its immediate victims but also the wider meaning of freedom and basic human rights.
Victims of sexual violence face the danger of suffering negative reactions upon disclosing their trauma, the most traumatizing of which includes being blamed for the assault. Studies have indicated a relationship between high levels of gender prejudice and stereotyping and high levels of victim blame.
In Nigeria, numerous cases of sexual violence occur every day, prominent among which is rape (the infamous ABSU gang rape being the most widely reported to date, thanks to the proliferation of social media), yet many of these go unreported. The few cases that get reported to the authorities are either not pursued by the police or the victim is advised to keep silent lest she disgrace her family.
Rape cases in Nigeria are rampant. In 2014 the Lagos police command reported that there were 798 cases of rape, an increase in 2013 figures which stood at 678. After releasing the report the Lagos state police commissioner said that this does not reflect the high rate of sexual assault that happens in Lagos. Other popular ones outside Lagos include the ABSU gang rape, which the prosecution of the offenders yielded no result, as the police claimed that the victim “consented to be raped”. Also, in March 2010, Pastor Timothy Adebayo of the Holy Spirit Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Ijebu Ode, was charged for allegedly raping a 24-year-old lady, Miss Kehinde Olalude. In Osun state, a traditional ruler, the Alowa of Ilowa in Obokun Local Government Area of the state, Oba Adebukola Alli, allegedly raped a corps member serving in his domain, Miss Helen Opara. Further, in Zamfara state, a police inspector, Abdullahi Ibrahim, was dismissed from service after he was found culpable for the rape of a 15-year old girl in Maradum local government area of the state. According to national center for biotechnology information (2013), about 287 case notes had sufficient information for statistical analysis.83.6% were below 19 years, 73.1% knew their assailants (majority were neighbours), most assaults (54.6%) occurred in the neighbours' homes and over 60% of victims presented after 24 hours of assault. Although 77.3% were assaulted at daytime, teenagers were likely to be raped during the day and non-teenagers at night. Threat and physical violence were mostly used to overcome victims.
The most recent research, however, indicates that most of rape victims still do not report their attacks to police. What do you do if it happens to you? Despite the national conversation about sexual assault, many victims aren't sure what steps to take or what to expect from the legal system. It is understandable how hard it is for survivors to report these incidents and why many are reluctant to get involved in the system. Rape is the most underreported crime in Nigeria, and about two-thirds of sexual assaults go unreported. But as hard as it is to come forward, if you don't, he will probably do it again: 90 percent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by serial offenders. A man who commits sexual assault likely did it before, and will do it again unless stopped.
If you call the report immediately, your case can become much stronger. Evidence can be collected, crime scene pictures taken, witnesses interviewed. Police will attempt to talk to your assailant, which can provide crucial evidence. If you didn't report the rape immediately, I still encourage you to report it when you feel strong enough to do so. Many victims come forward after days, weeks, or even years have passed. Although the evidence will not be as strong as when there is a fresh report, a prosecutor may still be able to build and win a case. Also, because there is so often a delay in reporting to police, there are now programs that capture reports even when the victim isn't immediately sure whether to press charges. I'm not going to sugar-coat it: Neither process is easy. Both can take up your time, energy, and mental space. You may feel judged by your peers or the public. Still, I would encourage you to make a report if you've been assaulted. This is a crime that has thrived in silence for too long. While neither process is perfect, there can be no accountability for predators unless survivors are strong enough to come forward and talk about what happened to them. Reporting gives important information to the authorities and can help solve other crimes. It helps police gather numbers on sexual assault, which influences the policy on how these crimes are dealt with. It can help you take an active role in your own case, thus regaining a measure of control, and it is a healthy way to channel anger. While you might not feel strong in the immediate aftermath of an assault, most victims find that they are stronger than they realized.
Finally, it is important you Know that the assault is not your fault. No matter what you wore, no matter what you drank, no matter who you danced with that night or slept with in the past, sexual violence is not your fault. There is only one cause of rape: rapists.
If you need to report an incident, log on to the salvus website www.mysalvus.org