18th October, 2011
The levity with which we handle rape cases is becoming a great cause for concern as such crimes are now on the rise.
Daily, we read and hear of how women and little girls are defiled by shameless men who, most of the time, escape with just a slap on the wrist. It is either the victim does not wish to testify due to stigmatization or the police bungle the case and the magistrate is forced to throw out the case. Even in cases where the suspects are found guilty, the lenient jail term or in some cases the option of fine or settlement out of court have thrown these criminal elements back into the society to commit the crimes again.
Rape cases have become so rampant in university campuses that one shudders at sending oneâ€™s daughter to school. It is either cultists or other depraved members of the men folk that take advantage of these helpless female. It is however not limited to that. Traditional rulers and other seemingly responsible members of the society have been accused of this crime.
Youth Corps members, female students in secondary schools and even pre-teen girls have fallen victims.
In other climes rape or even mere accusation of rape has ended promising careers of up and coming young people but it seems like we handle everything this side of the Sahara, rape is no different from petty crimes in which the accused gets away with a slap on the wrist.
The rate at which this crime is being committed these days is a cause for concern. Parents have become apprehensive of allowing their female children stay in hostels, lest they get raped.
Non-government organisations have done their best yet the crime seems to have come to stay. There is a need to have another look at the law and possibly put a new legislation in place to combat this growing menace.
The defilement of minors and teenage girls should not be looked upon as mere happenstance. It has become a menace and we have to do something before it becomes a monster that cannot be caged.
The police and the courts are not doing enough, so sad to say, and our lawmakers are perhaps too busy to take another look at the statute books to see what to do to discourage this barbaric act.
The National Assembly needs to move now. It has waited too long to promulgate, if need be, new laws to stem cases of rape. Do we need to wait until some high level government official is raped before taking action? Do we wait for the daughter of a highly placed Nigerian, to get raped before we understand the seriousness of this situation? Why do we always delay in attacking our problems when it seems too late?
It is time to hand out stiffer punishments to convicted rapists. There should no sentiments, nobody should be above the law. The United States of America the strongest nation in the world, once handed out severe punishment to one of its own over a rape charge. The former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson would not forget in a hurry what he went through after the rape accusation. Why canâ€™t we make rape a despicable offence like it is in other parts of the world?
If we look at the crime as minor because it does not touch us, we are doing this nation no good because sooner or later, and this is no curse, it will. And those it may touch may affect our sanity. We really need to do something. Rhetoric and sentiments would do nobody any good. Rape is a serious crime that would, one day or another, touch us or someone close to us. The time to act is now.