RAPE IS A CRIME, RAPISTS MUST NOT GO UNPUNISHED
Rape is one of the major threats and sign of violence against women in this 21st Century. It affects all age groups. The predators vary from parents raping their own children, brothers raping their sisters, family friends and passers-by. The rate at which rape nowadays is growing around us is something nasty. Do you know what hurts me the most? It is that the predators go unpunished while the victims remain physically wounded, psychologically crippled and emotionally broken for the rest of their lives. Then, from this day onwards, she lives another life. From this day, some re orientate their objectives and move from one failure to another.
In 2004, my 12 years old cousin went to live at our Uncle’s house. Among the many children In the house, she was the only girl. She had to do all the house chores and cook food for the family. Our uncle’s wife owned a shelf at the market and stayed out all day. On week ends, she had to travel to the bush market to buy. One night, we were informed the child had escaped from the house. They called her all sorts of names and our uncle even told us that he’d noticed developments in the child’s libido. The child according to him left the house because he tried to stop her from visiting men in their room. This was shocking news for the family very much attached to certain values. Given that after the child’s parents died, the only person ready to keep her was this uncle. He was therefore considered in the family as a very good person, and respected by all.
A week later, the child was found and I took upon myself to talk to her and listen to her. Then she told me she has been doing all the work in the house all alone, such that she has not been able to be in school on time. She told me she left the house because her teacher in school beat her up for late coming. I saw tears run down her cheek and I felt she was not telling me the truth. I promised to take her along with me if she told me every truth and she did so. My 54 years old uncle had been raping her all the time when his wife was not at home. This day, she told me, our Uncle “… did it in the morning and wanted to do it again in the afternoon meanwhile the place was still hot...” and she refused. He wanted to beat her up when she escaped from the house. She swore to me his wife was aware but did not take her serious. She simply told her husband she was unhappy with that and in order not to spoil her name in the family, she stayed quiet.
From this story, I decided to tell my grand mother and that is when I discovered all the family was aware of it. I asked my aunt to go to the police for that but she told me family problems are not solved by the police. The person who will make any noise out of it will be considered a bad child who wants to separate the family. My family was bent on that this was a family matter which should be treated secretly not to tarnish the image of the family. No one else believed this was a crime, and that is how this little girls’ life was spoiled. At 15 she was pregnant and gave birth to a boy. The family accused her of being a disgrace to the family and the community. When the child reached seven, I never saw her again. I heard she was married. Actually nothing could help her situation.
In our community today, rape is an everyday issue and the rapists go unpunished. Look at the policeman blaming a girl’s short skirts for being the reason for her rape. Or look at a father accusing the girl who comes back late from evening classes for keeping out late nights. No one has ever raped a boy whose jeans fall on the buttocks without or with a pant. Girls raped are accused of being bad children with poor moralities and alienated from the family.
For months now in my country, the issue of rape is heard everywhere. Rapes made from school children to housewives. Another issue that has hit the community lately is the dead of two sisters (aged 5 and 8 years) by drowning in a pool. The dead were not an easy one for the family of the children to take. The children had drowned in their aunt’s neighbor pool. The dead was a shocking one. Everyone lamented on such an occurrence. Just for the result of the autopsy to portray that the children had been sodomised for a long time before dead occurred. This idea was what shattered the family especially the father of the children. This case was the one that was reported. What about hundreds of other children who are victim to such acts and no one ever notices. No one ever gives them the opportunity to live their innocence.
The impacts of rape are numerous and disastrous for every victim. One issue of concern has is what happens immediately before the rape. Victims often experience pre terror frightening realization of what is about to happen to them but knowing quite well they are powerless to stop it. As a result, many victims impose upon themselves an unreasonable standard of conduct based upon guilt-ridden speculation about how they should or should not have responded to the attack. Serious distress is common immediately after the assault. These may include shock, disbelief, confusion, anxiety, crying, irritation, and other signs of emotional disorganization. The victim also may experience a variety of other feelings in the weeks following the rape: fear, anger, embarrassment, and self-blame. Abrupt changes in mood are common. To compound her distress, the victim may feel she is overreacting to normal everyday problems and then become angry with herself. At the end, some victims will either contemplate suicide or commit suicide.
Today, the situation is changing as how rapes are being handled but much still needs to be done. Girls have to be encouraged to denounce rapists and rapists are supposed to be punished. For this to be effective, victims need to be educated on that it is not their fault they were raped. They need to be taught that, they could be moving in the street as every other person and that the person who assaulted them is a criminal and is treated so both by the law and their community. They also need to be aware that, the shame is not theirs but that standing up to speak against rape is a bold and courageous step which is encouraged.
Moreover, families and communities should be educated to look at rape as a crime. Families need to learn that rape is a crime and the rapist should not be protected. Women who fail to denounce rapists should also know they are neither protecting themselves, nor their families. They should know that they are putting the integrity of their children as well as those of little girls of their environment in danger. Educating the grass root communities is the best way to combat violence against women.