Saturday, 9 February 2013

HIDDEN CRIME - a victimized victim

It was a cold Thursday night after a heavy rain storm, and I was returning back from an after lecture reading to the private hostel where I lived just outside the university campus. I had never gone home this late without company before but didn’t think it was a big deal; after all it wasn’t even 10pm. I should have known better.                                

I was so close to my hostel when I heard the voice ‘hey stop there’…. I should have run, but before I had a chance to put a foot forward in flight, I felt a gun on my head and the words ‘if you move I’ll blow your head off’.

I felt the nuzzle of a gun on my nose and the even more terrifying words as I was pushed into a bushy path ‘smell it, its metal and its real’. I was thrown onto the ground, slapped, and beaten and there my body was mutilated and the virginity I had planned to save for my husband ripped from me.
Stricken with fear and frozen with shock, the cold reality hit me, I had been raped.

I was soiled, defiled and had become an outcast.

Shaking all over, I ran all the way to my hostel and banged hard on the door until my roommate, eyes heavy with sleep opened the door.  She saw me and immediately knew something was wrong. What’s wrong girl she asked, my first reaction was to lie and say nothing but it was so damn obvious I was a wreck. I was too ashamed and scared to tell her the truth as I didn’t want to risk being ostracized, after all where I come from being the victim of rape was shameful and unpardonable because in their myopic minds, getting raped is always the girls fault. It’s her fault she wore a short dress, a see through blouse or walked home late at night. It’s always HER fault!

But the pain was too much to bear, I needed to speak to someone and she was all I had at that moment, so I told her the horrible tale. Fear and shame gripped me as she stared at me in what I thought was disgust; but then she reached out to me, held me, wept with me and told me it would be alright. How far from the truth she was.

Next day, we decided I go to the hospital for whatever help and support they could render.  I saw a physician who performed the relevant tests and prescribed drugs and a counselor who advised me to go home to my parents.

Home: I got home and with tears streaming down my face opened up and told my mother what had happened expecting her to hold me and say it’ll be alright. How wrong I was, mummy beat me up, cursed me and called me all sort of names and then warned me that if I ever wanted to get married, I should make sure I tell no one what had happened. Typical right? It’s was my entire fault.

The social stigma associated with rape cases has made it increasingly difficult for female victims to report cases or talk about their hurt. This has constantly forced them to suffer in silence, and sometimes live the rest of their lives in emotional pain.

Ironic though isn’t it, that in a world so constantly developing and chanting women’s rights, our daughters’ still struggle with the primitive mindsets passed on by our ancestors – it’s a man’s world and a woman’s place to be abused… Sad!

Changing a society deeply imbued with these perceptions of male superiority to one that extols the virtues of gender equality is attainable, but first we as mothers, auntie’s and I dare say fathers and uncles, we need to say no to this embarrassing menace of blaming the girl child for her beauty rather that the man for his lack of self control.

The fight to stop rape and sexual assault may be ongoing for a long time to come but it’s about time the abused women were given a voice and a chance to speak up and tell their stories however morbid it may sound as an inspiration and lesson to the rest of our race.

Jubemi Omabuwa

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