The tragic death of a University of Benin female undergraduate, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, following an assault has brought to limelight, once again, the issue of gender-based violence in our country. We join stakeholders in demanding justice for the victim’s family and the society at large.
While rape is a violation of the most demeaning kind that scars many victims for life, its prevalence in Nigeria is not a surprise. Having created a society in which the seemingly strong are seeking ways to display their superiority over ‘weaker’ people, rape may be a more blatant manifestation of a deeper deviation in our social psychology. No society should condone rape which regrettably is fast becoming a social epidemic.
Uwa was killed after being sexually assaulted within the precincts of a church, perhaps to cover up the crime that is increasingly being perpetuated in our country due to a culture of silence. But her killers must be found and brought to justice. Also being covered up in our country for fear of bringing shame to parents with high social status is the epidemic of fathers raping their daughters.
To fight the menace, a safe, protective and comforting recourse must exist for victims of sexual violence to address their immediate needs as well as to enable them summon the courage to pursue the ends of justice. While diligent prosecution and swift and exemplary sanctions would certainly send a strong signal to the perpetrators to desist, the media remains a necessary partner in sustained efforts to curb these wanton acts of evil.
We must all be ready to stand up to fight this menace which violates the dignity of our girls and women.
If you have been a victim of any form of sexual violence, please contact the following NGOs that work towards helping women that have been abused.
Stand to End Rape
Nigerian NGOs that work against Sexual Violence