In #HistoryClass today, we’ll be looking at an event that happened recently, one which we still have no closure for. I’ll be reproducing an article I wrote on September 19, 2011, completely, then adding a few recent thoughts at the end…
On Saturday, social commentator, Linda Ikeji, ran a sad story on her blog. It was the story of a female student of Abia State University, Uturu, who was gang-raped by five fellow students because she dared to insult one of them. The rape was recorded in a video.
This video quickly became viral, and has rightly attracted a lot of indignation from the Nigerian online community. However, I dare say we are all blowing hot air. How many of us know that The Sun newspaper published this same story a few weeks ago? How many of us know that something as criminal as that was buried in page 6 of The Sun?
This video had been circulating in Abia State University as far back as August 18, ONE MONTH AGO! One of my many problems with us as a people is our terribly short span of attention. I can vouch that by Wednesday, people would no longer be talking about this; the storm would die, and the beasts who did this will get away.
The Sun, who first published the story, have failed to do a follow up. We are so typically stupid when it comes to issues that border on rape. I have already seen some disparaging remarks on Twitter, insinuating that the girl asked for it. There was a moron who implied that she wanted it because she stopped fighting back.
For the sake of clarity, even if a girl gives a prospective admirer the green light to sleep with her, when she says STOP, he ought to stop. As a people, we also need to learn to draw the line between a joke, and a serious issue. Rape, in whatever form, is no joking matter.
It is unfortunate that things like this happen so often in Nigeria, and the victims, simply because of our unforgiving and mysoginistic environment, have a tendency to hide such issues away. In this unfortunate case, the victim would have more than likely gone home, had her bath and tried to heal in her own little way.
Sadly for her, and fortunately for Nigerian female folk, the beasts recorded the whole show. It remains to be seen though, whether we will make use of this opportunity, find those animals and send out a VERY STRONG message for other would be rapists in this country.
Let Chxta make one thing clear here. Chxta has sisters; and were it Chxta’s sister that was at the receiving end of this kind of behaviour from some idiot, Chxta would make sure he (they) get beaten to death if that is the last thing that Chxta does.
I somehow doubt how strong a message we are capable of sending except a few feeble rants on Twitter and the internet. We must ask ourselves some hard questions here: if someone decides to come out and identify the beasts, WILL OUR POLICE PROTECT THE PERSON’S IDENTITY? If not, then we can forget about any witness coming out.
Concerning the guys who have turned this into a joke, what they have failed to think of is this, “What if it were your sister?” Is it any wonder why girls get raped in Nigeria and refuse to even admit that a crime took place? The truth is this: if we refuse to see this case to its logical conclusion, ergo getting ALL FIVE rapists behind bars, then all our noise on the internet would equate to silence.
That rather deafening silence would have given consent to the actions of the perpetrators; AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN.
Postscript: Following the ABSU rape, the first reaction was a denial from the Abia State government that it happened on their turf. Then Obed Nnaji, a spokesperson for the governor, asked that the girl in the video come forward. Silence. I went to Uturu myself, twice, and so many there denied ever having even seen the video.
Only one person acknowledged it, and pointed me to a girl who was the daughter of a petty trader, who sold goods along Okigwe Road. The woman herself, denied it.
The Abia state government later issued a press release, which claimed that the incident happened in Obite, Etche LGA of Rivers state. Their story, which to me remains a fiction, was complete with names, and a claim that the victim, who according to them was married, got HIV from the event.
They further claimed that she relocated to Owerri after the incident. No one was ever reported, no one was ever charged. No, I believe that nothing will come out of the Sugabelly case. You can all go home now, #HistoryClass is over.
Follow Cheta Nwaze on Twitter @chxta