Rape remains a major issue in Africa, with more people becoming victims. Although it is difficult to determine the actual statistics as most victims do not report the incident.
According to the data by World Population Review, Botswana tops the chart with the most rape cases in Africa with a 92.93 index score, Lesotho ranked second with 82.68 and South Africa ranked third with 72.1.
Despite not being on the top list of countries with the highest rape cases, Nigeria has quite a number of reported cases. According to Amnesty International, a total number of 11,200 rape cases including children who were raped to death were reported in 2020 and in defiance of the widespread clamor against the rising rape cause in Nigeria, there seems to be no end to the nemesis.
Regardless of age or gender, sexual abuse has an impact that extends beyond physical harm. The effects of sexual assault on mental health frequently linger after the body recovers. More so, it is difficult to shake off feelings of shame, helplessness, indignity, and worthlessness. Evidently, rape destroys the victim’s sense of self, and trust in others and the world which often leads to drug abuse, depression, and suicide.
A female internally displaced person (IDP) in Borno State, Nigeria, committed suicide in January 2022 after being raped by an official of an international non-governmental organization. According to reports, the victim works menial jobs and was lured into his apartment under the guise of needing her services. The victim’s cries for help attracted the attention of the neighbors, but the deed had already been done before any assistance could be rendered; the victim proceeded to the kitchen, picked up a knife, and stabbed herself;. Sadly, she later died in the hospital.
The fear of not being believed or even being blamed for rape is one of the major factors that keeps the victims silent and prevents them from seeking justice. Sometimes, sexual violence is covered up by institutions or people in a position of authority. Horrifically, it’s sometimes ignored or allowed to continue by family members and friends even after it has been discovered.
Another victim was raped by her teacher in Sokoto State, Nigeria in 2019. She could not tell her parents and months later, she discovered she was pregnant; at that point, she dropped out of school and is now with a 4-year old child who serves as a constant reminder of the ordeal she went through.
In April 2020, Hamira a five-year-old girl was drugged and raped by her neighbor. Unfortunately, her injuries were so severe that she can no longer control her bladder.
In 2021 in Osùn State, Nigeria, a rape victim assaulted by her neighborhood in her apartment and was asked to be anonymous to avoid the stigmatization that comes with rape. Sadly, the incident almost cost her her education as she avoided school for several months.
Obtaining justice can sometimes bring closure to the trauma experienced by victims but so many men get away with rape in Nigeria. Many victims are reportedly being discouraged from seeking justice because of police officers’ toxic attitude towards gender-based violence which manifests into humiliating lines of questioning and victim-blaming. Furthermore, derelict police stations often lack the privacy required for victims to make their statements.
Some victims, therefore, engage in a lot of sexual activity, while others stop all sexual activity, and develop low self-esteem, and phobias. Most victims suffer for the rest of their lives without any form of closure.
In conclusion, studies have shown that simply talking about our problems and sharing our negative emotions with someone we trust can be profoundly healing—reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress. Therefore victims should be encouraged to open up about their experience; stay connected to people and not withdraw themselves from social activities. Generally speaking, people should create a safe space for victims and engage in healthy interaction with victims to help them heal and not stigmatize them.
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