Recently, Project Alert, a non-governmental women’s rights organization, has been getting calls from people all over Nigeria reporting rape and asking them what to do. The organization decided to write an article that can guide people on what they can do in case of rape. See the article below…
“My friend just got raped by her tutorial coach, what do we do?”
“I was raped by my neighbour, I told my mother but she refused to believe me. What do I do?”
“My daughter was raped so I shaved her hair and beat her up so that it won’t repeat itself and no rapist will be attracted to her”
These reports are just less than 1% of the cases we have to deal with everyday on issues concerning rape. From our experience we have realized that many people are still ignorant about what to do in a rape situation. People say there is a rape epidemic in Nigeria but the reality is that rape has always lived with us since time immemorial; we are only witnessing an increase in the reporting of rape cases.
Most families like to keep it covered up and let abusers go free which has resulted to more rape by the same abuser. How can you explain a case of a Father who raped all his daughters and went on to rape his 15month old granddaughter? If such a man was apprehended when he committed the first act, his other daughters, granddaughter and other undisclosed girls would not have fallen victim.
When it happens in our neighbourhoods the response people give are usually “if na me eh, person go die this night, if na me eh, I go cut his thing, if na my sister eh, the thing wey I go do, I never know am.” Before you think we made this up, this was the exact response we got when a 10 year old was raped in her neighbourhood. All hands are on deck to end this menace, more victims are summoning courage to speak up but it is not enough. If every Nigerian knows what to do in case of rape, we would have less rape incidence, less unwanted pregnancies and a decrease in the number of people with HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).
It’s normal to see people reading this who would say, “Tufiakwa! God Forbid! It is not my portion! Back to Sender!” no one ever wishes for rape but in case it happens around you this is what you should do:
· Emotional Support: Victims must realize and be reassured that the rape was not their fault. Give a listening ear to the victim and don’t blame them, punish them or accuse them of lying.
· Preserve The Evidence: Do not shower, wash the clothes and underwear, brush your teeth, drink anything, eat, wash your hands, douche or urinate until after you have had a medical examination. Doing any of the above will destroy evidence (things that your attacker may have left behind, such as fibers, hairs, saliva or semen). Save all of the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault. Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag. Do not use plastic bags because the heat in them may destroy your evidence like semen. Do not clean or disturb anything in the area where the assault occurred. This will be hard because victims want to shower and feel refreshed but it will help you get justice.
· Get Medical Examination: this is very important and must be done in a Government hospital. Only government hospital reports are admissible in court. Victim must be given access to Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection and this should be taken within 48 hours and is available at every government hospital. Morning after Emergency Contraceptive can be prescribed to greatly decrease the chance of pregnancy. Take a change of clothes to the hospital because they will need to keep the clothes and underwear worn during the assault for evidence.
· Report to the Nearest Police Station: Reporting to the police is crucial in the quest to get justice and keep the abuser behind bars. Every time we lock up a rapist, we’re preventing him or her from committing another attack. It’s the most effective tool that exists to prevent future rapes. Victims should go to the police in the company of a trusted family member or friend.
· Get professional counselling for the victim. Counselling is the first step to recovery and victims need that to heal and transition successfully. Victims of rape are more likely to suffer depression, low self esteem, guilt, sleep disorders, insecurity etc.
Over to you guys, share your comments, suggestions, advice or questions with us below.
Project Alert is a non-governmental human rights organization established in 1999 to protect and promote the rights of women and young girls in the society, especially their rights to live free from all forms of violence against them. Our areas of intervention are Research and Documentation (R&D), Human Rights Education (HRE) and Support Services Program (SSP) which includes legal aid, temporary shelter services for abused women, counselling, and skills acquisition training. www.projectalertnig.org follow us on twitter @Projectalertvaw and connect with us on Facebook: Project Alert on violence against women.