How Rape and the Silence Culture Empowers Predators

ARREY - ECHI
Posted October 30, 2018 from Cameroon
One of Many Graphic Pics Depicting the case of Ochanya. Photo Credit Dr. Eden A Onwuka
Graphic design done in memory of Ochanya by Dr Eden.
Graphic design done in memory of Ochanya by Dr Eden. (1/1)

Over the past weekend, Social Media was buzzing with the hashtag #JusticeForOchanya. Nigerians all over the world teamed up as one to demand justice for 13 years old Ochanya who died from injuries sustained over a long period of rape and sodomy from her guardian and his son. According to the story trending on Social Media, Ochanya was sent to live with her aunt at the age of 8 and that is when her ordeal began. The son and father duo continuously raped her from that age till she died at 13. The case was taken up and Nigerians began demanding for justice when she finally spoke about what was has been happening to her to someone who took her serious while at the hospital to bring in the forces of law. Unfortunately, she died not too long after that. Another version of the story holds that her guardian’s daughter stumbled on her brother attempting to rape Ochanya and told her parents, this came up I believe, at a time when the aunt claimed she didn’t know what was happening with her niece under her roof. This is also what gave rise to the idea to write this post.

Reading about Ochanya took me back memory lane when I was a student on internship at the Association de Lutte contre les Violences fait au Femmes (ALVF), Yaoundé. During this internship period, we were made to work with female victims of violence. Our youngest victim was a then beautiful two years old who was raped by her mother’s older cousin. When the mother attacked her cousin and took the case to court, her own mother… the child’s grandmother… asked that they beat her up because, how dare she took the family’s dirty laundry to the police. Suffice it to say the young girl’s mother came to us for help with bruises all over her body. It is true, I don’t really know how the story ended because we were just rounding our internship for the next internes. Something about these two stories takes me back to my theme.

The culture of silence surrounding rape victims does not only make this crime grossly under reported, but also empowers the predators and emboldens them to continue their heinous crimes against vulnerable women and girls. Take for instance the case of Ochanya. How can she be continously raped by the two males in her life who would have provided her with the utmost care and protection she needed in this world for five good years and the aunt was unaware? Did the aunt mean to say she saw nothing wrong with her over all demeanor and person during those five years? How about the daughter’s claim that she did tell her family what she stumbled upon? I think this woman was very aware but she choose to stay quiet and turn a blind eye as a way to ‘protect her family reputation’. Her silence and indifference embolden her rapist husband and son for five good years which unfortunately, caused the poor girl Ochanya her life after every other thing had been stolen from her. The case of the then two years old above, the grandmother would not hear about justice, for her, it was the family’s business and therefore needed to remain within the confines of the family. Forget the fact that her granddaughter was raped by someone old enough to be her dad.

When we make it difficult for our kids to confide in us when someone molest them by refusing to talk appropriate sex education with them, when we hush them when they want to talk about their experiences, when we rather drag their pain and psychological torture and shove them under the rug instead of seeking justice for them, when we hide behind culture to inflict pains on victims by calling them wayward, when we allow powerful and influential people to buy justice and walk away from being punished, when we rather blame the victim and so on, because we refuse to talk about rape and its effects on victims, we are silently empowering and embolden the predators and all the child molesters out there.When we refuse to believe our kids when they speak out because we don’t want to believe the person they speak against is someone close to us, we build walls around the culture of silence, making it extremely difficult for other victims to speak out and seek help.

There are so many Ochanyas and the two year old child out there who are suffering and dying in silence. Are we going to break the culture of silence and start fighting for them or are we going to add more bricks as we obstruct justice, blame victims and firmly continue to sweep such under the rugs, giving predators power to continue their despicable acts? The choice is ours to make. But we should remember that until we learn to fight to break the walls of silence, we create many Ochanyas and the two year old as our silence only helps to empower these predators.

And the irony I think is that she died in October, a month dedicated to also fight against domesic violence.  

 

This post was submitted in response to Share Your Story On Any Topic.

Comments 33

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Marie Abanga
Oct 30, 2018
Oct 30, 2018

Wow dear Arrey,

What a sad, or should I say two sad stories.

I agree with you there is this culture of silence in our society and it is killing us slowly. I have made my choice, I am not only open with my sons at home, but on all social media and avenues I can. Especially with these 'taboo' and 'embarrassing' issues.

What people will say about me or my image/reputation is not my worry.

So sad once more that Ochanya died in October. I can't even fathom the nightmare her life would have become growing into a heavily traumatized adult.

Hugs

Marie

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Dear Marie,
Thank you very much sis.
Sometimes debunking and breaking the normalizing of so called taboos is only by speaking out and telling our own stories and experiences.
Truly, I can't say if I could sigh albeit in a sad way that she died, trying to imagine the trauma she went through and how it would have impacted her life as an adult.
Keep speaking it. The story and experience is yours to tell.
Love,
Arrey

Marie Abanga
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

Dear Arrey,

Indeed we have to keep on speaking out. Sharing these painful stories and trying to get and stayed empowered in the process.

Adverse childhood experiences follow one in adulthood, I can't tell but maybe this child wouldn't have made it even if the rape stopped at some time.

I sure will keep speaking.

Love,

Marie

Sis. Salifu
Oct 30, 2018
Oct 30, 2018

Hi Arrey,
Ooh no! I wonder what kind of pleasure they derived from raping 2yrs, 8yrs 10yrs etc type of children :-(
I think the name shaming will help remove this cancerous madness. If the they are identified, they should parade in the community and shame them. :-( so sad she died? Did the 2yrs victim also died? Do you know the outcome of the legal case now?

Thanks for sharing.
Regards
Lisbeth

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Hello Lizzy,
Thank you so much for reading through.
I can't imagine what pleasure such people derive from raping any one especially such underaged and vulnerable kids.
Yes, I think naming and shaming and especially including strong laws to deal with such cases would be a way forward in fighting this social cancer.
Unfortunately, we left before the case of the two years old ended and we were not kept abreast. I can only be hopeful that justice was achieved.
Thanks again.
hugs
Arrey

Theresa Takafuma
Oct 30, 2018
Oct 30, 2018

Dear Arrey

These stories are heartbreaking and the saddest part of it all is the attempt by fellow women to conceal the evil act. A lot of women come out in support of rapists even in court and it is really heartbreaking. We need to talk more about these stories, and thank you for sharing these two stories. A lot of girls are suffering in silence for fear of being blamed for the rape, which is a double tragedy for them. I can't imagine the hell poor Ochanya went through in her young age. The culture of silencing the victim must fall.
Thanks for sharing these stories.
Kindest regards
Theresa

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Dear Therese,
Thank you for the feed back.
For sure, most women are those who would rather stay quiet than support a rape victim and many would blame them citing sometimes ridicules things like dressing and stuff.
We really need to start speaking up so that many Ochanyas and vulnerable kids do not experience this.
Wish you a great day and thanks again for reading,
hugs
Arrey

jlanghus
Oct 30, 2018
Oct 30, 2018

Hi Arrey,

Thanks for sharing your post about Ochanya. Too bad that she died before she could see any sort of retribution, assuming there was or will be any. I totally agree that when people don't speak up, it perpetuates the cycle of abuse and definitely favors the perpetrators:-( We can do better, collectively. Turning a blind eye to preserve seeming reputations should be the least of our daily worries. Up holding justice and integrity should be at the forefront instead.

I hope you're having a good day, dear.

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Hello Jill,
Thank you so much. It is sad that she died before any concrete action could be taken, just maybe, upholding justice may have helped make her life bearable from the scars and trauma of this experience I really do not wish to imagine. Collectively denouncing and standing up for justice will go a long way to curb I hope, such despicable acts on kids and other vulnerable people.

I am doing great thank you. Hope you are too.
Love,
Arrey

jlanghus
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Hello dear Arrey:-)

You're welcome. Agreed on both counts.

Great to hear you are doing well. Hope you're staying warm:-)

I'm doing, well, thank you:-)

Hope you have a good day!

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

Thank you Jill,
Yes, I am doing my best to keep warm. It is quiet rainy here these days.
Thank you for the love and concern.
Hugs
Arrey

jlanghus
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

You're welcome:-) Oh, yes. It's been very rainy and cold here:( No bueno:(

You got it!

Hope you have a good day!

Tarke Edith
Oct 30, 2018
Oct 30, 2018

Hi Arrey
What a sad story ,thank you for sharing it on our platform for we.lean a lot from such stoty

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Dear Sis Edith,
Thank you. Glad this is helping us learn something.
Wish you a great day.
hugs
Arrey

Adanna
Oct 31, 2018
Oct 31, 2018

My Dear Arrey,

Thank you for sharing your story. I am glad you talked about this "culture of silence," it is something that really worries me. A lot of people would rather prefer to "protect the dignity of their family" than speak up. It's really a sad thing.

The story of Ochanya made me "sick to my stomach." For days, I was angry and sad especially considering the fact that she had neighbours, and relatives.

May we always have the courage to speak up no matter what.

Love,
Adanna

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Dear Adanna,
Thank you sis. It is truly sickening, this culture of silence.
I felt sick and angry reading the story of Ochanya and couldn't help thinking
of the many more caught in the same web but unable o speak out because of this culture of silence. What was painful was she was surrounded by people but she was so alone!
May our collective voices in denoucing such acts change the narrative and break down the walls of this culture of silence.
Love,
Arrey

Olutosin
Oct 31, 2018
Oct 31, 2018

My Love, thank you very much for sharing the story of Ochanya, it made me cry.
We refuse to tell because we are blames, perpetrators are never blamed. Why did you go there? What were you wearing? Who sent you there? We always scream when the victims die. May Ochanya rest in peace after justice. I am 100% sure that Nigerian women will never sleep until justice is mete on her umcle and his son, horrible people.

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Sis Mi,
Fear of blame is really what is keeping many from speaking out . Who will believe me without blaming me? And to think the man is a reputable member of society.
I was very impressed by the stance of Nigerian women. May more men join in this fight and may justice prevail so that many Ochanyas do not happen. This was one of the saddest and heartbreraking stories I have read in a while.
Love and hugs,
Arrey

Jacqueline Namutaawe
Oct 31, 2018
Oct 31, 2018

The culture of silence surrounding rape victims does not only make this crime grossly under reported, but also empowers the predators and emboldens them to continue their heinous crimes against vulnerable women and girls.....true to note thanks for this challenge in observation. We need to break the walls of silence surrounding rape and defilement.

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Dear Jacqueline,
Thank you for picking that out... and may I add vulnerable boys.
We sure need to break the walls of silence by speaking out and demanding tougher laws against perpertrators.
Thanks again for reading,
Hugs,
Arrey

Ngala Nadege
Oct 31, 2018
Oct 31, 2018

Wow dear !!! What a sad story . when I read about it online i and now ,I really feel bad and wish she was alive to see how Justice come her way because i believe it will .
Thanks for sharing !

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Hello Nadege,
The story indeed was heartbreaking. Hopefully, justice would have made the scars and trauma she would carry through life bearable were she to be alive today. May justice prevail for many more still fighting such monsters in human form.
Thank you for reading,
Hugs
Arrey

Ngwa Damaris
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

I am in tears now because i can imagine what that young girl was going through.how sad!!!! i will love to know about all the actors handling domestic and sexual violence so i link people up and also share the message so that this ignorance could stop.This message makes me feel so bitter!!!

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

Dear Damaris,
It is sure a sad story and she will be buried today.
I am sure there are many handling domestic violence here on World Pulse, Will check that out and link you. Also, if you are on FB, you can check out The Hope Center based in Bamenda. They are key in raising awareness on domestic violence.
Thanks again,
Hugs,
Arrey

Ngwa Damaris
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

Pls do link me up ASAP. I will check out other avenues.

Beth Lacey
Nov 01, 2018
Nov 01, 2018

Oh, such a sad story- all too familiar. You are right- silence is as big a culprit as the villains in your stories. We must work to eliminate that stigma.
Beth

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

Dear Beth,
Thank you. Yes, silence is just as guilty. We need to crumble the walls of silence and stigma to be able to make progress in this sphere.
Thanks for reading.
Hugs from Cameroon,
Arrey

Sarah Dan-Legogie
Nov 04, 2018
Nov 04, 2018

The wife's silence is no less as wicked as her husband and son's. Three times I was almost a victim, I recall my ordeal as I followed through Ochanyas story. The culture of silence must be broken especially when it protects not the victim but the abuser.

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 22, 2018
Nov 22, 2018

Dear Sarah,
I am really glad you were an almost but never a victim though there are still some scars. I agree the wife's silence speaks volumes. We really do need to break the culture of silence if we want to fight against this social ill.
Hugs to you.

Jane Frances Mufua
Nov 09, 2018
Nov 09, 2018

Dear Arrey,

Thanks for your post. The only way to combat rape is to break the silence. There are no two ways about it. The perpetrators need to be named and shamed. I understand our context but the true is the more we keep silent the more we encourage the perpetrators.

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 22, 2018
Nov 22, 2018

Dear Jane,
thank you for reading and for the feedback.
You are absolutely correct. There are no two ways about it. The culture of silence and shielding the perpetrators need to be broken.

Sophie Ngassa
Nov 11, 2018
Nov 11, 2018

Dear Arrey, Thanks for sharing this great peace. I wish many women read it. Together we can STOP rape.

ARREY - ECHI
Nov 22, 2018
Nov 22, 2018

Dear Sophie,
Thank you for reading. I wish so too because it is only by joining our collective voices can we break the silence and say NO to rape.

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