Why the Surge?
The issue of rape is exceedingly reprehensible and is indicative of the spirit of the age. The socio-cultural dynamics of our society has been changing over the years. The improvement in knowledge, science and technology have brought with them, societal changes and innovations that are sometimes unwholesome to our values as a society. Part of this is the increasing liberal bend of the society. This has been projected more into the society by social media and even traditional media whose contents are becoming more harmful to the moral disposition of the country. Most of these contents have been in the areas of, sometimes, very graphic and explicit sexual contents. Sex and sexuality is now being glorified and celebrated in the wrong context. Both adults and young children are being inundated with these negative images which remain in the minds of certain people who look for outlets to act them out. Again, all kinds of pornographic contents are on the internet which are easily accessible to just about anybody. The western part of the world, now heavily secularized is also pushing their liberal agendas to countries like Nigeria. The end point is the heavy sexualization of the society which plays a role indirectly in the sexually deviant behaviour we see today such as rape.
Incest Also Rampant
The associated cases of incest also to some extent derive from the above explained sexualisation of the society. But incest could also be a result of a psychological problem with an offender. This is because incest is an unnatural activity. Abominable sexual behaviour is not rooted in the social stratification of our society as all segments (rich or poor) are represented by either offenders or victims. I also believe there is a strong possibility that rape is being under reported because of the associated stigma to the victim. Many victims are ashamed and too scared to report to the authorities.
Is the Law Lenient?
It is no longer a matter of our laws being lenient with offenders. New legislations have increased the punishments for offenders. In some instances, punishments of up to 14 years for violators are now in place.
Parents have a duty to safeguard their children through proper upbringing and ensuring that they are close to their children so that they can freely discuss with them. They should also ensure that only responsible and trusted relatives are allowed access to their houses.
Roles of the Civil Society
Civil society is already doing a lot and continues to do so. They have been doing serious advocacy all this while and protesting rapes across the country. Some have even gone ahead to set up homes and shelters for abuse victims. Parents also need to set good examples for their children and instruct them on ways to avoid dangerous situations and places where they could be assaulted. While it is good to domesticate the Child Rights act, it is also worthy of note that rape is still ongoing in those states with Child Rights Act. Much more needs to be done.
The Religious Bodies
Religious bodies always have roles to play especially when issues revolve around moral issues and acts. They need to keep on appealing to the consciences of their adherents and to point out the right paths to them. The Way Forward It has been proven time and again that capital punishment does not deter crimes. And this is a universal assertion based on facts. A clear example, domestically, are the various capital punishments legislated upon by state governments in the country against kidnappers. Unfortunately, kidnappings have been on the increase everywhere. The way forward is to end the de-sexualization of our society, especially media, both social and traditional. I would also advocate for a federal action to take off or restrict pornography on Social media in Nigeria. The National Broadcasting Corporation should implement strictly its laws against indecent music and videos. While it is no excuse for rape, people, both male and female should dress more decently in public. Government agencies including the police and the courts should approach rape issues with urgency and dispatch. Victims should be encouraged to come forward to report rape assaults without stigmatization.