Normally, I don’t pick up strangers along the road especially women because they tend to think that your act of kindness is their right by virtue of their sex or worse still that you have an ulterior motive; whichever is not acceptable by me. But on this fateful day it was different. My defenses were down either because of the late hour or because of the way the girl swayed painfully when she walked I don’t know but I put my foot on the brake pedal and stopped beside her. “Care for a lift?” I asked. She could only manage a nod after a brief hesitation and subsequent resignation. I guess she was more afraid of what she was running from than she was of me. I stretched across and opened the passenger side door for her. My car is a jeep; a Nissan Xterra and it is really high off the ground but it was not high enough to make her struggle into the car seat as if the lubricants in her body were all dried up and her bones were in direct contact with each other. “High fever.” I reasoned. It was the sickness that makes your body as stiff as that. “Do you care for the air-conditioning?” I inquired, after we had gone a little way off, wondering if the state of her health would permit such cold temperature that the air-conditioning of the car offered. But I didn’t get a reply. Briefly taking my eyes off the road, I spared a glance at my passenger and saw that what was beside me was only a body without the spirit inside of it. “Are you okay?” I asked, this time getting real concerned but as before I didn’t get a reply. I could now see that she didn’t hear me. I had to touch her. She jerked out of her reverie and almost out of her seat. “Are you sick?” I asked and this time got a reply which was a shake of her head. By now I had driven to a safe enough place and parked my car near a spot where a mallam sells suya. “Where are you going to and what is wrong with you?” “I don’t know where I should go to.” For the first time I heard the voice of my passenger. Since the answer was not what I anticipated I restated the second question. “What is wrong with you? What happened to you?” Pause. Like she was thinking whether she should tell me. Then… “I have just been raped.” She quietly revealed and the floodgates opened. Tears streamed down her lovely face. She wasn’t crying out loud and neither was she shuddering with spasms. No. the tears just came down quietly in rivulets subtly intimating me how real and difficult the confession was to the young girl. I was stunned and immobile trying hard to disbelieve what I just heard and seen but there was going to be no retraction. “Do you know him?” I finally found my missing voice and asked. “them.” She replied me, finding it easier to talk about it since the first admission of her predicament. “They were three but I know one of them. He is my course-mate in school and drove me down to retrieve a text I lent to him” she paused while I refrained from asking a thousand and one questions. “I was a virgin.” She quietly revealed. “I never knew I would be disvirgined (sic) like this.” Now she was sobbing; little sobs that racked her body convulsively. Since it has been confirmed that she was not sick I wound up my car windows and put on the air-conditioning whilst letting the car run idly, something I never do. But since this evening was an evening of doing things I never did before I assumed I could add this to the list. “You are still a virgin.” I muttered but assuredly. She turned to look at me with teary eyes. “They forced him to go first and when they discovered I was a virgin they made jest of me.” “Jesters make fun of the real things because they try so hard to disprove its validity.” “And then they all ejaculated into me… on me… they did things to me that I never believed a human being can do to another. .. and they held a knife to my throat” the revelations were coming in snatches, but they were coming all the same, while her gaze was permanently fixed on the floor of the car. “Why don’t you want to go home?” I brought her back to the present. “I don’t want to go to the hostel like this. My roommates will never give me breathing space neither do I want my aunt to see me too. My parents are in Lagos.” “Are you not going to report this incidence? Even if it is not to the police but to the school authorities?” “No.” she shook her head resolutely. “I have seen what became of students who reported rape cases. The two of them left school before graduation. I won’t live through the experience.” Since there was a note of finality I knew when not to pursue a closed subject. I ended up paying N4,500 for a night’s stay in a one-half star hotel in the GRA for her. I left my card with her asking her to call me if she needed anything and left. I didn’t want to pressure her into giving me her phone number. She didn’t call me so I have not been able to reach her since that night three weeks ago. Sometimes, the urge is so strong in me for me to go to her school and ask for her but unfortunately I didn’t ask for her name. In the two hours that she came and left my life, she left an indelible mark in my heart and lots of questions waiting to be answered. I have since taken more than a cursory interest in rape and rape cases and read different articles on the subject yet the questions remain niggling at the corner of my mind.
Rape is having carnal knowledge of a person without his or her consent. It is estimated that the number of unreported rape cases far exceeds the reported cases. Between 75-90% are unreported. Rape is therefore considered by law enforcement to be the least reported crime. It is also estimated that three out of ten girls are deflowered via rape the world over; that there are 69000 female and 9000 male rape victims yearly in the United Kingdom and Wales. More than 70% of these dastardly acts are carried out by people whose victims know them. Female and male alike both suffer from this anomaly although rape is usually associated with females. In my research of this unhealthy but growing perversion I have come to associate some attitudes and actions to its continued growth. These actions and attitudes have advertently or inadvertently contributed to a growing trend of wounded and broken women. Wrong sexual orientation, peer pressure, loose dress codes, parental negligence and myths have all in their own way contributed to rape and are helping fuel this harmful act. Some people accused of rape have been known to confidently tell law enforcement agents that he was led on by his victim, that he thought she was in for it. Others have been part of gang rapists because they were cult members and were compelled to. Still others thought it was the in-thing to do. In South Africa where there is the world’s highest incidences of AIDS cases, the myth that sleeping with a virgin was a cure for AIDS has helped not only in spreading the virus but through rape.
The effects of rape on victims are varied and widespread. Distrust of the opposite sex is bred, emotional barriers are then erected while fear, whether successfully masked or not, is engendered. These victims usually have poor relationships and may become frigid which is getting locked-up sexually.
The high incidences of rape cases will never abate if steps are not taken to rescue womankind from this catastrophe waiting to envelope and undermine the essence of our society. First, children should be accessible to their parents. Some parents are so out of reach that rape victims just keep their troubles to themselves. Parents should be able to feel the heart of their children and this only happens by constant relationship building. Also important are our reactions to rape victims. I once asked a friend what his reaction would be if his sister tells him that she was raped and he told me that he will tell her to hush it up because nobody will like to marry a girl who was raped. Now the befuddling question “will you marry a girl who was deflowered through rape or prefer to marry another who was deflowered by her own wish?” if you chose the latter then you need to change your perspectives. Furthermore, our children should be trained to be able to say no to social vices, peer pressure and pornography. These all weaken their minds and wills and make them susceptible to the different temptations that abound.