Unfortunately, a greater pandemic of heightened domestic abuse has been unleashed with the coronavirus pandemic.
Warning: Some of the details in this article may be distressing.
'Appalling', is an understatement describing how I felt when, for the umpteenth time, I saw an agonising report, this time by the British Broadcasting Corporation, in which a woman painfully recalled how her father raped her since the age of 8. Martha (pseudo name), recalled that her father threatened to “flush her into the toilet” if she dared to tell anyone about the rape and further commanded that if she didn’t oblige him, her education would stop. When she eventually summoned the courage to report to the Authorities, the police officer she met rained insults on her and accused her of seducing her father. It was her father’s words against hers. No one believed her. Who would save Martha?
That the global COVID-19 pandemic is a force majeure is no news. That it swept the entire world off its feet unexpectedly is no longer news either. What is news now is how we would all cope with the new normal. Unfortunately, a greater pandemic of heightened domestic abuse has been unleashed with the coronavirus pandemic. Unexpected and prolonged lock-downs allowed many to satisfy their lustful selves forcefully on any woman who has two bumps on the upper frontal and the lower rear part of the human body- the sizes did not matter at all. Many victims were locked in with their abusers. Yet, others became abusers due to the prolonged lock-downs as more women became victims. Generally, rape is disheartening, irrespective of who perpetuates the act. Nonetheless, raped by one’s biological father...someone who ought to nurture and protect his offspring ordinarily, lives nothing to be desired at all. Like the coronavirus, there is almost no community on the globe that is free from the rape pandemic.
A father felt it was his business to ‘test’ the virginity of his teenage daughter, so began fingering her since she turned thirteen. After all, she had reached puberty, wasn’t it? Hence, this little girl was forced to be his sex partner and companion even at work during his night shifts. Again, when the young girl reported to their Landlord, whom she figured was a person of authority, her father denied it and continued the abuse. The matter eventually got to the Police and there was no respite either. However, it isn’t all about fathers. A similar report describes how a mother, unfortunately, aided and abated her husband to rape their 18-year-old daughter during the lock-down caused by the coronavirus pandemic. She stuffed her daughter’s mouth while her husband raped her. Thankfully, the police showed up to intervene after the victim's elder sister called for help, but not before her father had successfully raped her twice, an allegation which her parents denied. This particular story was most disturbing because it has multiple experiences of abuse, aside from incest.
Who would give his beloved child a stone rather than bread? Well, an innocent daughter reported symptoms of a cold (since these were similar to those of the coronavirus) to her father who gave her sleeping pills instead, after which he raped her. Yet another father repeatedly raped his 14-year-old daughter till he impregnated her. Imagine the mother’s shock when her daughter complained of feeling unwell, only to discover at the hospital that she was pregnant? Investigations revealed her shock was yet to be over, as it was her husband who had impregnated his own daughter. Then, a 61-yr-old father continuously raped his 19-year-old daughter until he impregnated her. What nightmarish experiences! However, one mother exposed her husband for raping their three daughters. The youngest was just 5 years old.
These isolated cases are an infinitesimal number of the total number of rape cases (reported and unreported cases) globally. I wouldn’t even want to go into the number of rape and murder cases I’ve read about. Now, there seem to be some double tragedy. Many girls and women would have their education stopped as a result of babies conceived during the lock-down. Unfortunately, the boys and men would return to school as if nothing happened. Although a study by Piquero et all (2020), stated that in the short-term, they could not ascertain that the coronavirus pandemic had a direct bearing on incidences of domestic violence in the city of Dallas, United States, for example, the undocumented rape cases reported on social media and in various communities state otherwise. By a twist of fate, the first father-daughter incest case reported in the bible, for example, was not initiated by a father. Rather, two of Lot's daughters raped their father after they got him drunk. Eventually, they both got pregnant. Of course, there were huge consequences then and there are huge consequences now whether we would like to admit it or not. So, what can we do to mitigate against the rape pandemic that is being reported all over our world and aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown? Feel free to add your suggestions to the list in the comments section, please:
Say Its Name
Rape is rape, period. We are all guilty of trying to be civil about this crime. To sound modest, we call it sexual molestation, abuse, violence, or even use slangs like "touch your toe", and lots more. The 'milder' words water down the gravity of this heinous crime. Rape is rape. Let us call it by name. Rape is rape not minding how, when, where, who, or why it was done. How do you justify a mother that was gang-raped right in the presence of her children, because she stopped on the highway when the car ran out of fuel? Or an innocent undergraduate who during the lock-down, went to read in her church building where she was raped and her head smashed with a fire-extinguisher, which eventually led to her untimely death? Whatever the form and wherever rape takes place, it is highly condemnable and totally undesirable.
That abused girl/woman is your neighbour or lives right in your house. Support women. Give the benefit of the doubt. Do not be that woman or man who keeps quiet due to cultural barriers or the mother who would stuff the mouth of her daughter while her husband and the father of her daughter rapes her. These experiences seem like fiction, yet they are real. Be sensitive. Your timely intervention could save a life physically or emotionally. A daughter commits suicide after being raped by her father, while another father murdered his daughter to cover up his immoral act. These stories pop up routinely now. Mothers should be extra vigilant and sensitive to save entire communities from pain. Couples should ordinarily trust themselves, but since the 'devil' bears the responsibility of man’s irresponsibility, each mother has the sole responsibility of protecting her female children from sexual predators, fathers, or husbands inclusive. Ensure the support of rape victims wherever or however you can and, in every possible way too.
Raise your Voice
We must not remain silent. We can’t keep quiet. If we do, who would save the abused and oppressed? Support organisations or individuals working against rape. Raise your voice at every opportunity. Don’t wait to report your observations. Write against this age-long pandemic of abuse and oppression. Create awareness, raise an alarm. Sign petitions. Never choose to be silent. Nowadays, one thing leads to another. We should choose to be safe, rather than sorry. There are red flags everywhere if only we would look more closely. Gratefully, Sofia, a lady in her late twenties, raised her voice when she noticed “an eight-year-old boy on all fours, camera angle from behind” pop up on her phone via Instagram. Further curiosity led her to notice grown men discussing the sexual looks of children’s sexual responses and were even “trading” erotic pictures of children. Needless to say that there is a whole community involved. Sofia did not let this disturbing discovery slip away. Rather, she joined hands with friends to raise a petition against pedophile networks on Instagram. As at the last check, almost 13,000 from the 15,000 people targeted have signed. Together, we can flatten this curve too.
You Can Heal
Reading this piece may be a sad reminder of a personal situation. While it is painfully hard to forget and difficult to forgive, it is not impossible to do so. Yes... it is possible to heal after the deep wound of being raped has been inflicted. The trauma is unbearable, but you are not alone. Take your time, but move towards recovery. It is hard and I am sorry for the experience you had to go through. We all pray for a better world where there is love, fair-play, and justice. Aside from numerous organisations that are ready to help, you have sisters all over the globe to support you through the healing process. Suicide should never be an option. Joyce Meyer is an American televangelist who testified about the possibility of forgiveness as she recalls being raped by her father a minimum of 200 times since she was a child. Really sad and unfortunate. Nonetheless, through the help of the “Balm in Gilead”, she managed to forgive him. Processing the testimony of a survivor like Joyce or some other respected person could help relieve the hurt, knowing that you are not alone. Moreover, since the deed can not be undone, it is healthier for one’s mental state to be the ultimate Conqueror.
Stop the Shame and Blame Game
Authorities, Individuals, and Groups must stop shaming and blaming rape victims. Rather, there should be serious consequences of rape. The laws are generally not stringent enough, hence perpetrators get away with their crimes, many would argue. I strongly agree that rapists do have mental or bipolar challenges. Recently, Lawmakers in Nigeria's Kaduna State endorsed surgical castration as a punishment for convicted rapists of children under the age of 14 and signed this into law. Although individuals or groups have called for capital punishment or death penalties repeatedly, some of the reasons against these are that there would be fewer people reporting rape cases, it could induce or increase the murder of victims, and that there is no data to justify the effectiveness of death penalties as a rape deterrent. Howbeit, the shortcomings in the legal system in many countries of the world, for example, make conviction of rape cases difficult as the laws are rarely invoked. The victim suffers stigmatisation often and some countries insist that there must be a witness, which is almost impossible to get. However globally, women and a good number of men are completely fed up with the menace.
Furthermore, I think that sex education should be demystified in homes and outside the home. Places of worship are great venues to educate people about sex. Sadly, leaders of some of these respected places of worship are morally bankrupt as they, directly and indirectly, engage in acts of sexual abuse which ultimately lead to rape. Additionally, parents should be interested in the activities of their children on social media, as well as continue to teach their wards the early signs of sexual abuse or brainwashing. We must stop the cover-up, shaming, and blaming.
While it is painfully hard to forget and difficult to forgive, it is not impossible to do so.
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