Mrs. Bisi Fayemi, the wife of the governor of Ekiti State Dr. Kayode Fayemi, belong in the list of well-meaning Nigerians who have risen to condemn the act of rape and the perpetrators in the light of the weighty rape allegation leveled against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo by Busola Dakolo.
She did also speak strongly against the culture of silence by society, the feeling of shame by victims and their families.
More importantly, she thoroughly shades people who have decided to go out of their way to support the alleged perpetrator against the abused who against all odds has summoned the courage to openly talk about it twenty years after.
The most instructive part was when she rounded off by sharing her own near-rape experiences. The first attempt happened when she was ten.
According to Mrs. Fayemi, the potential perpetrator was her family’s houseboy who goes by the name Shina. He had tried to remove her undies at the dead of night.
But on that particular night and after observing his antics, she was able to summon the courage to challenge him to explain what his intentions were for which he had no answer. To avert the unthinkable, she had to stay awake all through the night.
She didn’t just stop there. She went ahead to inform her mother, who took it up from there.
Of course, she had no inkling of what her mother’s measures would be. She was, however, sure there would be consequences.
A few days down the line, houseboy Shina was gone before she returned from the school. And she reliably gathered that he was literally frog jumped to the motor park.
Her second near-rape experience happened when she was thirteen or thereabout.
And this time around, it involved a neighbor who goes by the name Uncle Lai. Uncle Lai was entrusted with taking her through a crash swimming lessons.
During one of the swimming classes, she observed that he always grope her backside at every opportunity. This raised a red flag for her.
Again like in the first case with the houseboy Shina, she queried the swimming instructor on what his intentions were. And all he had to say, rhetorically, was “can’t someone play with you”?
However, conscious not to make the instructor Lai experience the treatment meted out to houseboy Shina, she decides not to inform her mother. And the matter ended there.
But as part of her measures never to have another near-rape or sexual abuse experience with Uncle Lai, she had to stay away from him and his sphere of influence completely.
But the experiences will go on to enrich her as a woman concerning how to manage situations like that.
From the foregoing, Mrs. Fayemi was clearly proactive and well beyond her years. For we all know that the average rape victims worry, necessarily you may say, about what the people will say. Will they believe them or will they not? Will they shame them?
They also suffer from a sense of self-guilt as regards how they have contributed to the act’s perpetration.
And more so many bottled up the experiences in the aspect that has to do with informing their parents who may be reluctant to believe or take appropriate actions especially if the alleged rapist is a respected friend or a member of the family. Indeed, a situation like that has been known to pose a dilemma for many parents.
And we have heard cases whereby reporting victims get either shushed up, verbally scolded or spanked by people who they, hopefully, expect to take practical steps perhaps in the form of reporting to the police with a view to taking a sample of primary evidence of the incident of rape before they get destroyed and making it difficult for charges to be brought against the alleged perpetrator.
Mrs. Fayemi obviously didn’t have to worry about all of that. And the mother proves the above-average grades being a listening mother who didn’t shush up, judged or scold her daughter but takes practical steps by removing the potential rapist from the scene permanently.
Many victims are not that lucky because of the reasons of their silence or shame they sometimes help to keep the rapists around for much longer than necessary.
By so doing also, they help potential rapists like Shina and Uncle Lai of this world transform into full-blown rapists perhaps against their wishes because they might misconstrue their silence for enjoying the act and also to escape judgment.
It is my belief that with people like Mrs. Fayemi lending both their voices and experiences to the ongoing conversations around the subject of rape will go a long way in encouraging the victims as well as their families to take proactive steps and not wait a day much less twenty or thirty years before they speak up.
It is, however, heartwarming that some rape victims are already taking the advised steps and are reporting early enough to the appropriate authorities.
There are clearly well-documented implications of rape incidences both for the victims and the wider society.
In a situation whereby victims don’t take proactive steps as did Mrs. Fayemi and her mother, there are implications.
Some of the implications for the victims include but not limited to post rape incident’s trauma, guilt, a sense of self-inadequacy, suicide, painful sexual experience even in marriage, rejection, withdrawal, and distrust for the members of the opposite sex.
As for society, there are implications too. For instance, the near-rape experiences as was the case with Mrs. Fayemi may have robbed the country of a potential swimming champion in the Olympics if Uncle Lai had not decided to take advantage of her at that tender age.
The experience may have informed her conscious decision to withdraw from the swimming activities completely because continuing could mean interacting with hypothetical Uncle Lai’s.
This explains why many informed parents and guardians are reluctant to send their children girl child and wards, especially, to take extra classes in music, art, dance, and the likes which might have impacted their future positively because they sever as unsuspecting platforms for abuses all of kinds which hardly get reported.
The reported case of an Islamic scholar who raped his sixteen-year-old student at Ibadan, Oyo State of recent comes to mind. According to the report, the poor minor was literally dragged out from beneath him. And as usual, the devil was named as the prime cause by the perpetrator.
Yes, the judicial process remains the only way to help keep the devil away from continuing to tempt the potentials rapists and reinforcing the full-blown ones among us through the prompt delivery of punishments as clearly spelled out in our laws.
If this is not done continually, the implication is that the rising incidents of rape will not only continue to stunt the psyche of the girl child who remains as ever weak, vulnerable, and exposed but also to the detriment of the society which ultimately is the beneficiary of the excellence of an abuse-free girl child.