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The execution of eight individuals for drug related offences caused a huge stir around the World. Indonesia has since been condemned by all and sundry for these executions. Over the years, we have noticed a trend where countries are gradually doing away with the death penalty. Individuals who commit various nefarious acts are instead sentenced to longer years in jail, sometimes without parole, in exchange for the death penalty. The debate will probably continue in the future about the pros and cons of the death penalty.

Human life is sacred and the fact that an individual can pass a judgement for a suspect to be executed sounds extreme. The trouble however is that some innocent lives could potentially be lost because they had a bad defense team or were falsely accused of crimes they knew nothing about. Individuals with the best defense attorneys stand a better chance in court. For those who have a poor defense team, the outcome is almost always predictable. There have been cases in which convicts who were sentenced to very long-term in prison have been found to be innocent and subsequently released following retrial, successful appeals or emergence of new evidence exonerating these individuals. If they had been subjected to the death penalty and hastily executed, they probably would have been long dead before their innocence was proven. For many, after their execution, the case is usually never reopened; these cases may be permanently locked up in the history books. The idea that a wrongly accused convict could have a chance to redeem himself and start afresh offer hope to those against the idea of capital punishment.

Individuals from a certain social, ethnic or racial background are likely going to have tougher sentences in some societies. The murder of a wealthy and influential person in the society is likely to carry much stiffer punishment (especially if the killer has a lower societal standing) compared to another similar case where the victim has a low social status. Punishments are meted out unevenly depending on the social standing of the victim and the offender. It is not uncommon to see poorer men and women or men from a certain racial background having stiffer punishment in court, sometimes even death. And don’t forget, these suspects are left open to the dangers of human errors or misjudgment of the investigators.

Indonesia and some other countries have made it a law that anyone involved in certain criminal offences get the death penalty. Drug related offences are part of the long list. The punishment is clear and precise, supposedly to serve as a warning to anyone who intends to engage in such activities. However, this does not seem to deter many people from taking the risk. People who go on to move drugs into these countries do so with the aim of getting rich very quickly, to drive the fastest and finest cars and of course live in luxurious houses. This comes with the added incentive of having the finest ladies flocking around them. After all, as a popular comedian once said, prayer moves heaven but money moves earth. This seems like a perfect scenario; a classical utopian world.

Working hard is not always seen as the best way to go about life anymore or probably it is difficult to work hard. So it is not uncommon to see men and women of different demographic distribution traveling to these countries as carriers of illicit drugs. It is usually a case of the higher the risk, the larger the reward. Many are lucky and succeed but some are not so lucky.

While it cannot be ruled out that some of those accused may be innocent, it must be said that anyone who decides to engage in carrying these illicit drugs should take full responsibility when they are caught. Carrying drugs to countries that have an established punishment for such offences is only asking for trouble. While we continue to criticise these countries that sentence these offenders, the real question should be, why would anyone decide to carry these substances to these countries when the potential punishment has been spelt out even before the substances are lifted? I, therefore, want to assume that they do this with a full knowledge and acceptance of the possible consequence of what could happen if they are caught. Therefore, I see it as an act of epic lunacy for anyone to take drugs to those countries and expect some form of clemency and sympathy when they are caught.

Finally, the dangers of drug consumption are well documented. Many people have lost their families, fame, fortune and friends because they got involved in the dangerous habit of consuming these hard drugs. Many have also contacted life threatening illnesses through sharing needles during the process of consuming these drugs. Unfortunately, many lose their lives from drug overdose. We only hear about the famous celebrities who are always the focus of media attention. The ordinary man or woman on the street who is an addict is usually not remembered or mentioned when they die because no one knew him or her. Ironically, the society sees those suffering from addiction as culprits rather than people who need help. Perhaps, the real question should be how did they get these drugs and who provided them? How do we get these drugs off the market and rehabilitate addicts? Those who make these drugs available for their financial gains should be made to face the music. After all, it is logical to say that if there are no drugs to buy, there will probably be no addicts.

Nigeria is a country made of many ethnic groups with divergent views, beliefs and cultural practices. The complexity of the Nigerian people has made coexisting together sometimes nearly impossible as issues of mistrust and favouritism along ethnic and religious lines continues to spring up. Hence, the tension among ethnic groups remains; ticking like a time bomb and waiting for a stimulus for it to explode. It is not uncommon to hear parents tell their children to be wary of members of other ethnic groups because of certain characteristics which have been attributed to these groups from time immemorial. Some are regarded as been violent, others are seen as been too materialistic, some are said to have higher powers and special skill in witchcraft and others are concerned only about money while we are reminded that some groups cannot be trusted no matter the circumstances. The myths are endless. We erroneously generalise and label groups differently probably because of what we were told by friends and family or what we read in newspapers, journals or magazines even if we have never really had any direct contact with these people.
The quest for education and improved economic conditions has made it necessary for individuals to migrate from their places of origin. This has offered them the opportunity to relate and deal more closely with people from other ethnic groups. It is not uncommon to see an Igbo man residing in the North or a Yoruba in the North and people from other ethnic groups moving to “foreign” places. New friends are made, new cultures learnt and accepted and sometimes it goes even deeper than that. People find love in places they probably were told they should be careful of. This sometimes offers some serious and difficult challenges.
The problems usually faced could make the weak give up. It is not uncommon to have serious and fierce opposition from both parents and if the couples involved are not willing to put up a fight, the love usually dies even before it begins to blossom. The adaptation period is also an issue. Many have never been able to understand why they would have to lie down or kneel, as a sign of respect, before their father-in-law and other elders because they were not trained that way. And while we learn new customs and traditions, we realize that it may not be a walk in the park to adapt. We could get easily offended when we discover how a certain people live their lives. For many, because they were not brought up that way, it is usually a reality shock. Children born into such homes may not learn the languages anyway. These homes usually are “English homes”. This is understandable especially if the man doesn’t understand the woman’s language and vice versa.
However, the benefits of intertribal marriages and relationships cannot be overemphasized. With the growing level of mistrust and violence in the country, such marriages have helped to foster unity amongst families and tribes. And in successful cases, it helps in changing our erroneous views on others. It teaches us not to generalise and label a group simply because of an old encounter we had with a random person or stories we were told by our bitter parents, friends or relatives. The chance to discover a new way of life is also important. We learn to see things from a different point of view. We learn about new foods, places and traditions. These are things we ordinarily would not have learnt if we married that lady or man whose house is less than one kilometre from my home.
Finally, in every relationship, the most important factor is to have two individuals who understand and love each other truthfully. Issues like ethnic or religious difference should never be the most important factor. After all, what is the point in marrying someone from your village if that will translate to a lifetime of unhappiness? So we must learn to love without restrictions. We should not have a list of places we cannot marry from. People find love in places they never thought was possible. We may just be the turning our backs on people who sincerely care for us. There is no guarantee that the so called “safe option” of an intra-tribal marriage will have a happy ending. The single most important thing is to find someone we love, the one whose heart and ours will be in perfect synchrony. By limiting our choices, we may have turned our back on that one person who will love us in ways we never imagined.
Have a nice day.

Nigeria: A nation that forgets.

Time has gradually passed away as minutes, hours and days have gradually turned to weeks and months since over 200 girls were taken from their hostels while the rest of the world slept unaware of what was happening. For several weeks, the government lived in denial. There was belief in some quarters that they were not kidnapped simply because of the number of girls involved. It did not make sense to them. Few days later, information filtered in that they have been rescued. This falsehood was reported around the world in major newspapers and television stations until the principal and the parents vehemently denied that their daughters had returned. The government went on the attack. Anyone who demanded the girls be found was attacked. Some were even labelled members of the opposition. It was painful when you realise it took the President over 2 weeks to make a public statement on this issue. In various discussions I listened to, many people stubbornly said those girls were not kidnapped. It was perplexing to hear an individual like Mrs Kema Chikwe hold on to this view. Doyin Okupe and Labaran Maku took turns to make series of ridiculous comments probably feeling that attacking the public, who demanded the girls be found, was a sensible strategy to defend their employer. You wonder if their views would have been different if they had relatives who had been victims of the menace called Boko Haram. For them, this was simply another plot by the APC to discredit the ruling government. It took a recorded video by the Boko Haram sect leader with loads of the abducted girls for many to actually believe the girls were indeed in captivity. They had already made up their mind that any criticism of the current dispensation was simply the handiwork of those who were always against the government.

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Chibok Girls: Still in Captivity

The abduction of those girls led to widespread campaigns, protest and demonstrations around the world. Fuelled by social media, countless tweets and updates on twitter and facebook were followed by the “BringBackOurGirls” hashtag. This predictably made the government very uncomfortable but didn’t really change their lackadaisical approach to finding a solution and getting our girls back. Foreign countries offered to help in bringing our girls back but somehow they all packed their tools one after the other and went back presumably because they had confirmed what we always knew that there were lot of hidden secrets and hence, no strong commitment on the part of Nigeria to find the girls. They didn’t want to be made to look stupid. But who could blame them?
Unfortunately for the girls, the World cup came along. Suddenly, from being bothered about bringing our girls back, we concentrated on the Nigerian national team while we waited for our customary first or second round exit from the tournament. When they were eventually knocked out, we chose another favourite team. It is no coincidence that during the month-long tournament, not much was said about them. The Chibok girls as they are known were mentioned sporadically while we continued to watch various football stars.
And just when we thought the momentum could be generated again, that tiny and scary virus entered Nigeria. Suddenly the fear of Ebola had gripped a nation. We were more concerned about how to get hand sanitizers and run from anyone we felt was sick or potentially at risk of having the virus. This was understandable considering the human and economic damage it was causing in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. We lived in fear perhaps too bothered to think about those girls. The “BringBackOurGirls” hashtag was quickly replaced by “EbolaFacts”. The disease seems to have been controlled while our girls clock over 150 days in unknown lands. This is even made worse by the fact that everyday conflicting reports come out from that troubled region about the sect making strategic gains in territory.
Brave members of the armed forces are being killed like never before. We begin to wonder if they are getting the right assistance from those at the top in terms of weapons, logistics and intelligence. The North East has become very volatile making any rescue operation very risky. And then there are the doubts and questions we have. Do we even have an idea of where those girls are considering that 5 months have passed since we last saw them? Do they feed properly? How has the sect managed to feed such large number of girls with relative ease? What is the sanitary condition like? Are those girls being used as sex slaves by their captors? What level of physical, sexual and psychological abuse have they gone through in those days? Are they being used as suicide bombers? There are certainly more questions than answers. Many may have even died from various causes.
It is disturbing to note that there seems to be a silent acceptance that the girls may never return home. They have become victims of a sad story called Nigeria, a country where the citizens have gradually come to realise that successive governments will never fight or stand up for them. Those innocent girls are being punished for their crimes. What exactly was their crime? Their sole offence was trying to get education in a region where education is not valued by everyone. They are even more unfortunate because most of their fellow citizens have come to accept mediocrity, where failing governments are constantly being defended on the basis of ethnicity and religious affiliation. This is usually with total disregard to the quality of leadership and service delivery.
We have also become detached from reality and sometimes even making a mockery of the abduction. How else can you explain or rationalize the new campaign slogan for the re-election of the incumbent President which reads boldly “BringBackOurGoodluck2015”. This clearly is a mockery of the BringBackOurGirls campaign slogan which goes to explain how insensitive the President and his support team could be. Who exactly thought it was a good slogan for a President who would score very low if security was the single most important factor in the coming elections? As we speak, the supporters of the “BringBackOurGoodluck2015” have chosen to ignore that the man they support so passionately has failed or better still has not attempted to bring back the Chibok girls home.

An insensitive and ill-advised slogan

Bring Back Mr President 2015: Creativity or Idiocy?

Finally, as the days pass by without those girls returning home, we must forget our political affiliation and hold this government responsible for their inactions. We have painfully reached that point where we see it as normal for our leaders to take us for granted because we have similar religious and geographic orientation or possibly we turn a blind eye due to financial gains we stand to make. We have to as a matter of urgency start to hold them accountable. By the time you read this, it would have been over 150 days since those girls were kidnapped. We must not sweep this under the carpet. We must stop being a group of people that forget our worries and problems. It is time to face them.

The decision to suspend or cancel the medical residency programme in Nigeria was announced a few days ago by a government that has once again proven that it clearly lacks the ability to think before acting. I was not surprised by the decision of the President and his team because this is just one in a very long list of many ridiculous decisions he and his team has made. It was however quite unfortunate seeing and listening to the reaction of many health professionals ranging from Physiotherapists, Medical Laboratory scientists, radiographers, the nurses and other members of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU). For many of them it sounded like a victory. How wrong they are.
It is common knowledge that the health sector is in shambles. It has even been made worse by the fact that the doctors see the other health professionals as the enemy while the other health workers under the aegis of JOHESU sees the doctors as their sole problem. In the middle of all these chaos, we forget to ask the real question. Are other members of the health team really the enemy? Why do we not have equipments and the right facilities to work with? Why do many teaching hospitals not have functional equipments for Computed Tomography Scans, MRI and hence have to refer patients to private laboratories? Why is the government always unwilling to meet some of the reasonable demands of both the NMA and JOHESU which always results in incessant strike actions? It is a known fact that patients suffer during the industrial actions instituted by any of the unions of the health sector.
I have always maintained the view that successive governments have deliberately not improved the health sector because they always knew they were one flight away from a hospital in Europe, Asia or North America. In 2012, Senate President David Mark travelled to Israel for what was referred to as a “minor” medical treatment. How “minor” was this “minor ailments” that he did not trust the Nigerian health care system to handle it and instead chose to travel with public funds to seek treatment outside the shores of this country. Umaru Yar’adua left the country in order to receive treatment for an extended period of time with taxpayers’ money before his unfortunate demise. How else can we defend this government when the First lady always flies to Germany when she falls sick? I will not even be surprised if one of such visits had cough as the only presenting complaint. The National Hospital, Abuja is meant to be a model hospital in this country and is located at the nation’s seat of power making it very accessible to these public office holders. Yet they constantly choose to travel abroad because they are fully aware that they have failed the Nigerian health care system by deliberately ignoring the challenges facing the system or by embezzling funds meant for the health system.
It is of great significance to note that even when Nelson Mandela’s health condition got critical and deteriorated, he was never flown abroad. He spent those days in health facilities located in South Africa. When the late Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, suffered a stroke in 2006, he was cared for in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Never for one moment was he taken out of the country to receive “expert” medical management. There was never any consideration to take them outside their countries. This was because over the years they had worked hard to improve the health sector in their respective countries. If they were Nigerian politicians, you could bet your life that they would have been on the first available air ambulance and then taken to a foreign country.
Estimates show that, Nigeria accounts for about 13 percent of the global maternal death rates. But we all know it is much higher than that. Many cases are never reported since a good number of those that occur in the rural areas end up at the homes of traditional birth attendants and the so called faith clinics. The high rate of maternal deaths can be linked to the absence of adequate qualified health workers and facilities. How then does the government intend to solve this problem when one of their plans is to terminate a problem that ensures we have qualified professionals taking care of these areas? Hospitals are understaffed and underfunded. Patients spend up to 6 to 7 hours in general hospitals, medical centres and teaching hospitals before they are attended to. How can you justify the decision to sack 16000 doctors across the federation who are few years away from becoming qualified specialists in their chosen area of specialization? By choosing the end the programme, young medical students and new graduates may have to leave the country in order to get the desired training. This will further reduce the amount of qualified health workers available. There are also some areas in the field of medicine which are so important. An area like Neurosurgery requires experts. There is already an acceptance that that particular field is understaffed. With the increase in road traffic accidents, individuals may be at the mercy of doctors who were not trained in such area. The decision is even more perplexing when you realize that the minister of health is a Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon who was produced by the same programme he is trying to cancel.
Therefore, before anyone goes on to rejoice, there must be an acceptance that we all are vulnerable because many of us are not in government and will not benefit from free trips abroad for medical treatment. Before anyone begins to make statements like it serves the doctors right, we must realise that our relatives and ourselves may never get the best care they deserve simply because we are in support of a senseless policy which only serves to worsen the situation of an already decaying health care sector. Can a nurse treat his or her relatives with a severe head injury following a road traffic accident? We must all realise that the doctors are not the victims here. Those who will be worst hit by this policy are the 170 million Nigerians, especially the poor ones who visit the tertiary hospitals and are attended to even without having millions of naira in their bank accounts. If you have not visited any of the primary health care facilities in the country, you probably know nothing. Many of such centres do not have gloves or mask. These items are luxurious items in many of such places. Many do not even have running water and the very poor masses have no choice but to visit them. Thousands of health centres do not even have any qualified personnel. Those in the rural areas are in grave danger because many of them are poor and uneducated.
We must begin to tell ourselves the truth. This is not a triumph for anyone. JOHESU may see this as a victory but the importance of having well trained doctors cannot be overemphasized. A doctor will like his family to get the best possible care at all times. So will a nurse, a physiotherapist, a medical lab scientist, a porter or a cleaner. The various unions must begin to realize that the real enemies are those men and women skilfully looting public funds without remorse at Abuja. The health sector is in a sorry state.
Finally, this decision confirms that the government has lost the plot and are short of ideas. Welcome to Nigeria; the country with many health challenges, where the country’s response is to sack 16,000 doctors rather than get them back to work.

Words of The Day.

Eleanor Roosevelt: “Remember no one  can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

 

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was an American politician and the longest serving First Lady of the United States of America.

 

 

Offer A Hand

An old but relevant post

uchehokafor's Blog

Several weeks ago, I got into a thought-provoking discussion with a Lebanese man whom I had come across in my line of duty. During our conversation, he told me about how he had stayed in Nigeria for quite a long time, twenty four years to be precise, and how he actually felt like a Nigerian. And then he said sometime. In his words, ‘’one bad thing about Nigerians is that you people like to spend money on burial ceremonies than on treatment’’. I sat back and thought deeply about what he had just said.

He made a point; a very valid point. It is common to see people die in hospitals simply because they couldn’t afford the cost of treatment either in terms of purchasing drugs or doing laboratory investigations. Such drugs and results of laboratory investigations could have gone a long way in affecting the outcome of the disease…

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Martina Navratilova: “Whoever said it’s not whether you win or lose that counts, probably lost.”

 

Martina Navratilova is a retired Czech and American tennis player and coach.

Titilayo Arowolo was a married banker, a mother and seemed to be on her way to the top of her career until that fateful night on Friday, June 24, 2011. She was brutally murdered by her husband, a man who had sworn before God to love and to cherish her till death separates them. Various accounts reveal she was a victim of domestic violence; a ready-made and stand by punching bag for her husband. Her father had said she always moved backed home after quarrels with her husband, Kolade, after he must have beaten her and threatened to throw her down from the top floor of their one storey apartment. She remained in a marriage probably with the hope that he would change. How wrong she was.
Following another fight on June 24, which also happened to be Kolade’s birthday, he ended her life in a manner no one could ever imagine. The Forensic pathologist in his report stated that he discovered about seventy six stab wounds resulting from the use of tremendous force on the chest, heart, lungs, liver, diaphragm, hands and other parts of the deceased’s body. He added: “there must have been many blows, stabs wounds. It resulted in severe blood loss. The stab wounds combined, caused by sharp weapon, a single and double edged wound. There were injuries to the front of the heart and back of the heart and wall of the heart. You can actually see through to the inside of the chest wall which had collapsed. A particular stab went through the rib cavity to the heart; the stomach was completely torn open. All these injuries could not have been self-inflicted because at a point, you would have dropped the knife’.
To put it simply, he mutilated her with the sole intention to cause harm and subsequently end her life. Tiitilayo is or was one of the numerous women who remain victims of domestic violence in their marriages or relationships. Many have been luckier than Titi was as they still wake up every day alive but uncertain of how their husbands will react to the slightest provocation. They live in fear safe in the knowledge that they are a few minutes, hours, days or weeks from the next battering. Many go on to have countless miscarriages after they have been beaten by their husbands like common thieves while they were pregnant. I have met a woman who was in her seventh month of pregnancy with a swollen face and bruises after her husband failed to keep his temper in check. Many have been hospitalized and many more may lose their lives in the future.
Nigeria happens to be one of those countries where we take religion too seriously. It is not uncommon for couples to be reminded at the altar that divorce is not an option in any marriage. Our religion does not support it. They are also reminded that regardless of whatever differences they have, they must look for solution and keep the marriage intact. It is considered “unchristian” to even consider divorce. The usual question or fear is, what will the Christian world say about us? How will the church react to my mother and father who are deaconess and deacon respectively? Some women are even afraid that they will be seen as women who could not keep their marriages intact. The questions are endless. Hence, many remain in very abusive and dangerous relationship while they keep the society quiet but continue to live in an unhappy relationship.
I got into a discussion with friends as regards what a woman should do if she was in an abusive marriage. During the discussion, I quickly began to come to terms with how the society thinks. People tend to believe that the duty of every woman is to remain in a marriage regardless of the conditions of the union. We are constantly reminded that the oath we swore before God, the pastor, friends and family was to stay together till death do us part. They overlook the part that the man was meant to love and to cherish the woman. I have gone through that vow repeatedly and have never seen a part which stated love and cherish in spite of all the beating you may get from your husband. On that day, they tried to convince me that the woman had to endure like Titilayo had done over the years. What happens to her children? What will the society say about a woman who could not keep a marriage? And most importantly, the good book is against divorce and hence she will be risking the wrath of the Lord if she goes away from her unhappy marriage. I listened attentively and quietly to see if I could meet them halfway. I tried but I could not. It still did not make sense to me why a woman should choose sadness over happiness.
My views remain the same. They have not and will not change. A woman who is in a marriage that one of her job description is to serve as a punching bag needs to do the simple thing. Walk away. It is common knowledge that most men who beat their wives never stop. It is more like a positive feedback. An episode of beating is followed by another. After every round of pounding, the man goes down on his knees and begs for forgiveness. He claims it was the work of the devil. Gifts, hugs and kisses are given to serve as pacifiers and as expected the cycle repeats itself. Women suddenly develop a morbid fear of their husbands. They soon realize that a little provocation could get him upset. They know that once he is upset, the sight is usually not pretty. Sometimes it is not even of their own making. The husband has a bad day at work and could decide to vent his frustration and anger on his wife.
What about those little kids they have? Children grow up in unhappy homes. They know there is a chance their mother will get beaten anytime. It comes without warning. The children live in fear. Girls live in fear, not sure of what their future relationships will be like. Will they suffer the same fate as their mothers? The boys soon begin to get the belief that it is alright for the man to beat the woman. They grow up and go into relationship and their girlfriends become punching bags. When they get married, their wives take these positions. If the woman is unfortunate and has her life cut short, what happens to those kids? The love and care they could have gotten from their mother is taken away from them. And if justice doesn’t catch up with him, he could remarry and suddenly the children face an uncertain future. The new wife could become a menace to them, constantly making life difficult for them.
Marriage is a beautiful institution. The idea that two people could come together and share everything they own, including their lives, is a good thing. But, it is important that we are happy in such an institution. It is only possible to be loved by someone if we stay alive. A woman owes it to herself to be happy. If tragedy strikes, the society that insists that walking away is not an option, will only mourn for a few weeks or months and then will continue living like nothing happened. Our sanity, happiness and lives are important.

 

Words of the Day.

John Lennon: “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

Uche H. Okafor

Sexual Abuse and our society.

The rate at which defenceless individuals have been sexually abused has increased in recent times. The lifetime risk of sexual assault has been put at 1 in 4-6 for women and it is now estimated that only 1 in 5 adult rapes is reported.
We have heard about how individuals, mostly women regardless of their ages, were raped by men. Early this month, there were news reports about a 50 year old woman who was raped and subsequently hacked to death by a gang of men in Ogun state. Just sit back for a moment and think of that woman. Only then do you understand. It was cruel. She didn’t deserve to die that way. Unfortunately, while these nefarious acts continue, it doesn’t seem like culprits are being brought to book. Many feel they can walk away freely after committing such heinous crimes.
Recently, I met a 10 year old female student who was brought for a medical examination following a case of sexual abuse. She had been sexually assaulted by her headmaster for the past 2 years. She had opened up to her sunday school teacher who subsequently informed her parents. She was not alone. She further pointed out she was not the only victim. Imagine the psychological torture she must have gone through, how she had managed to keep this to herself for years? The owner of the school brought her to the clinic and confirmed that during their internal investigations, many of her classmates admitted that they had also been victims during the last 2 years. This was a little girl who was being sent to school to get quality education but then ended up with this situation. When she recounted the events, her account was clear and precise. It was evident she was never going to forget her past experience in the hands of that man. This had left an indelible mark in her memory.
I asked about the suspect. And I was happy when I was informed that he was in police custody. So I was excited about the prospect of a court case and a possible sentence for the suspect. Then a bombshell was dropped. The mother of the girl and the proprietor of the school told me they wanted an out-of-court settlement. I gave up. This potentially could mean that man may be freed. It then dawned on me that our society is one that is very willing to sweep things under the carpet. If he is guilty, he should be put away from little children and women for a long time and not an unnecessary and ridiculous amicable settlement. The proprietor is probably more concerned about the effect a court trial could have on the fortunes of his school and the mother also would not want this to go public to “protect” the reputation of her family. These are possibilities. Don’t forget, Nigerians do not keep records. He could move to another school in a different state and continue from where he stopped. The young girls in our society will therefore remain at risk.
A part which nobody seems to talk about is how will this affect the young girl? How will this 10 year old girl interact with men when she grows up. She had been sexually abused remember by a man for two straight years. Is it not a possible that she could develop a hatred or phobia for men due to what she went through in the hands of her headmaster? If she suddenly feels safer with women with the belief that they cannot abuse her and becomes a lesbian; she could be imprisoned for 14 years due to the new anti-gay law while the man who molested her continues to walk freely. This is with total disregard to the fact that her society, through her headmaster, may have pushed her to it. Many people who have become homosexuals may have had a troubled past but this usually is never put into consideration.
Furthermore, a sexually abused individual suffers psychologically. Many experience fears and nightmares, insomnia and even shame and guilt. Many families never return to normal after a member of such family has been raped or assaulted. Long term effect of rape may include Post-traumatic stress disorder. And then there is the “small matter” of sexually transmitted diseases and of course pregnancy.
Our attitude to young girls who have been sexually abused sometimes are unreasonable. Most girls are blamed for their predicaments. It is not uncommon to hear the “very righteous” people say the girl was wayward. She always dressed indecently and hence served as a tool of temptation. We now know this is far from the truth. Women who are over 50 years of age, who dress decently, have been raped. Rather than blame the victim, the rapist should be brought to book.
Due to the fact that friends, family members and the society are usually judgemental of these victims, many never recover from the effects of the incidents usually due to a lack of support. For some, they may never report the case. They live with the stigma while the culprit lives on with his freedom intact and more members of the population remain at risk.
Finally, the sexually abused go through a lot, much more than we will ever know. I will love to see where individuals who carry out such evil acts are brought to book and made to face the consequences of their actions. Victims should be supported and encouraged to report these abuses to the appropriate authorities. Parents should be open with their children and willing to communicate with them on any issue. A child who knows that he or she can talk about any issue with the parents is more likely to inform them of his or her troubles. We should not judge them. It could have been you or me. That little girl could even be your daughter.
Have a nice day

Uche H. Okafor