Someplace in the Holy Bible, we are told that the heart of man is DESPERATELY wicked. This part of the scripture jumped into my mind when the news of a 10/12 year old pregnant child in Benue State reached me. After painstakingly reading the story, it became clear to me, one more time, that there are people in this world, Nigeria and in Benue State who are not human beings but beasts in the true meaning of the word: BEASTS!!!

According to the version I read, this child was raped, impregnated and when it was time to deliver, she was dumped at a hospital by someone, presumably the BEAST; the man who made her a woman even before she could spell the word P.R.E.G.N.A.N.T. Thankfully, help came her way and through pains, this child successfully delivered her baby – even as another scripture jumped into my mind: in all things, give thanks to God. We thank God because at 10/12 years old, we can liken her successful delivery to those of the Biblical Hebrew women.

But in the midst of this sad and thank-God-situation, i remember that someone once said: “society creates the opportunity, criminals executes the opportunity”. This means that crime and any such thing that disturbs the peace are creations of society – and people partake in them because the opportunities to do so, and to go scotfree, are available. The history of rape is as old as mankind and rape is prevalent in every human society, but more so in societies where the opportunity to rape and to go scotfree afterwards, is highest. Sadly, the Nigerian society (and most of Africa) belong to the latter category.

Rapists are on the loose in Nigeria because as with most crimes in the country, they are rarely arrested, prosecuted and jailed. And as individuals and as a society, the blame and shame is on all of us because our actions and inactions makes us rape enablers. How so? We continue to, by our individual and collective actions and inactions, give rapists the opportunities to rape women but expect them not to do it. As an adult, you have a boy and a girl who are not blood related living with you, you allow them sleep in the same room and same bed and you act surprised when you hear the girl was raped and impregnated by the boy. You keep ‘monkey’ for room with ‘banana’ and expect am to go ‘hungry’? As a government, we handle rape cases with kid gloves and treat rape victims as liars yet we act surprised that rape is now a daily occurrence. Abeg let us all sing together: “see brother/sister/government, brother/sister/government way mumu!”

As individuals and as a society and as a government, we must understand that beyond condemning and cursing rapists (who most times go unpunished. How far with late Ochanya’s case? Anyone jailed yet?), we can actually curb the growing trend of rape in Nigeria by refusing to present the opportunities for it to happen. What to do? As parents and guardians, we must not be too busy to observe those around our children/wards, we must not keep two opposite sex as househelps (particularly when they are not adults), we must encourage our children/wards to report anyone who touches them, we must speedily investigate, arrest and prosecute rapists so as to serve as a deterrent to others.

The truth is, as we collectively point one accusing finger at a rapist (rapists are worse than bandits, murderers and terrorists put together), three other fingers are pointing back at us. Thus, beyond the occasional insults and curses we throw at rapists with every reported case, we must consciously refuse to enable rapists by creating the opportunity they need to rape anyone around us – because whenever rape happens, we (individuals, society and government) are as guilty, if not more so, as the rapist.

© Chad Otsapa

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