No means No [with Dr. Anita DaSilva-Ibru]

Bekeme Masade-Olowola (Host):     Hello Nigeria! You are listening to Bekeme on the Good Citizen Radio show, the show is brought to you by ACT Foundation which is many things to many people. We are into advocacy; we are into supporting businesses and other institutions for corporate governance and collective responsibility. The show is sponsored by ACT Foundation – a grant making organization established in 2016 to support local, national and regional non-profits working to address the various challenges across the African continent and of course, the Good Citizen Radio show is doing all they can to address the leadership challenge that they have amongst ourselves, the citizens and amongst our leaders and we want to make sure that we do our best to be the leaders that resides inside of us. Today we are going to be talking about a very typical issue in the news media. We have been hearing all sorts of outcry against the injustices that have been witnessed not just in Nigeria but around the world, the show topic is No Means No. I bet you already suspect what this is all about. First of all, do you know that based on Nigeria’s Legislation, perpetrators of rape are liable to life imprisonment, for some weird reason the draft man broke it down into different age categories  but the long and short of it is that if you commit rape you can be imprisoned for life and trust me with all of the outcry that has been heard across the country against sexual assault and rape against women you are likely to get it now more than ever. In the past, there was a lot of injustice around seeking redress for rape victims and all of that to even the rape victims not agreeing to come forward to purported lack of evidence but if you are a rapist this is the time against you, try it and you would see what would come at you.

            There is still news my dear people that we have a collective grievance against sexual abuse and racial discrimination even and it is our responsibility to continue to express such. The sexual violence these days, I don’t know if it is social media but it seems to be more shockingly common and gruesome. According to data by the US center for disease control and prevention, nearly 1 in 5 women are raped or sexually assaulted at some point in their life and it is typically by somebody they trust and as a woman, I strongly believe that this data is not the reality because a lot of people who get sexually assaulted or raped do not bother telling anyone especially if they have managed to handle the situation or if they feel that the situation may cause some sort of unrest within their immediate setting or may cause them stigma and there are very many crazy people in the world because the recurring instances of sexual abuse these days is a sign that you know many people need to be contained in a facility to correct their heads and thankfully this generation, this time in our life, we are not all for a sitting down and doing  nothing about it. People are speaking up and if you are listening at home and thinking it is not such a big deal because I do find that with the old generation they say some stupid sort of complacency, when I talk to older people where women are about this child is molested they are usually not shocked and it is not because they think it is right but because they have somehow internalise that this is something that will happen to women and it is something that you must bear. Women have become so used to this that many think it is not a big deal but I will tell you that it is a big deal for some who would say “oh my child is too young, she hasn’t seen her period yet” I would remind you that the world youngest recorded mother Lisa Marcela a Peruvian was purportedly molested by her father but unfortunately investigations weren’t conclusive and she was only five years old there was also the case of 6 year old Yemi whose 70 year old maternal grandfather was confirmed to be the father of her child and guess what the family did when they found out? They just packed up and moved away from the area with the same grandfather in question and then in Nigeria have you been watching the news, have you been listening to what has been happening and the worse one that rocked our world this week was that of 22 year old Uwaila Omozuwa in Edo state who was gruesomely murdered in a church. In the past you would be concerned that or you would believe that people would be concerned that this is a place of worship and they would be respect that but this girl was brutally rape and brutally murdered. I watched her mother on TV earlier this week and tears welled up in my eyes. I have 3 girls and I thought how could this be, it would never be the same for that family again no matter how many years passed and she had gone to read and you hear men on social media say “school has not started, na she sabi pass why did she go there to read”, “why did she go to a deserted place”, “why did she do this, it is her fault”, “she was dating two friends”, I am like are they for real? Or is it the case of a 12 year old girl in Jigawa state who was reported abused by a 57 year old man and had had at least 11 men rape her in her life time or the 4 year old girl that was shared on Tunde Ednut’s page who was brutalized continuously by her teacher and the mother was so concerned as she said her innards are done with and there are many more and I am not saying that it is only girl children or women who are sexually assaulted but it is just a lot more prevalent and I am speaking up for the boy child as well who could also go through this sort of assault it is a pandemic, it is what the UN has called the shadow pandemic and this is something that we must stop.

            We have many other instances of injustices in Nigeria including the case of Tina Ezekwe the 16 year old who was gruesomely murdered on the 26th of May by a trigger happy Nigeria Police officer at Iyana Oworo, and the celebrated case, unfortunate that I have to use the word celebrated, but it has become a postal man for the injustices of killings around the world Georg Floyd may his soul rest in peace. Many people both black and white have come out to en masse to shout against the killing of George Floyd and yes there was talk that he has purported tried to buy something with a counterfeit 20 dollar bill it is wrong if that was the case but then do you then put your knee on a man’s neck and literary strangle him to death just because he is black and we have all carried in Nigeria like oh how could they and we are in Nigeria protesting against the US consulate in Lagos and Abuja and we forget our own discrimination against our own kit and kin, police killing citizens, citizen killing citizens and citizens not allowing other citizens have access to certain services because they are of a different tribe and of a wrong gender, we need to protest against every in justice in our country, the same way that those in the US are protesting against racial discrimination based on age long employment deprivation, low income earning potential and large scale marginalization etc among the African-American population. So then Nigeria, are to fold our hands and watch perpetrators of sexual violence, racial discrimination, police brutality go free and to let their victims suffer? And live with the stigma and do nothing to stop this inhumane act simply NO! and guys when a woman says  no she means no, whether she is being coy or not it is not your business to decipher No means No and the reason for this suspected increase in sexual abuse psychologist have started to look at it and say it is rather more complex than we formally thought, many people who rape other were sexually assaulted themselves but many do it for many reasons they desire to punish to revenge, to cause pain to prove sexual prowess or simply just to control fear and again the psychological reaction of victims of rape also vary, there is feelings of shame, humiliation, fear and rage and victims often report a perpetual feeling of defilement and I would like to look at it as PTSD an inability to feel clean and vulnerability and lack of control over their lives. It is shocking that not only ordinary citizens are accepting of this but that police people who are supposed to protect and who should know better do nothing and that our justice systems the judiciary who know better pretends that they cannot see what is happening, this is a shame and in summary to this discussion is going to look how we can address this impending menace and how we can help ensure a safe society for us all and guarantee that lessons are learnt by perpetrators and pseudo imitators or potential imitators that you know strong prosecution and the sudden pro-activeness in dealing with this issues is actioned.

To help us consider the matter we have talked about and to dig in with perspective raised or that we have cited, we have for todays’ show an acknowledged advocate against sexual violence, her name is Dr. Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru who is a specialist Obstetrician and Gynecologist and runs a non-profit organisation – the Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) that successfully tackles the issues of gender-based violence, rape and trafficking of young girls and women in communities throughout Lagos State and across Nigeria.

Dr. Da-Silva Graduated from the College of Medicine, University of Lagos and completed her postgraduate training on Obstetrics and Gynecology at Howard University, Washington DC. She also received her master’s degree in Public Health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Welcome to the show Dr. Da-Silva

Dr. Da-Silva (Guest):  Thank You for having me Bekeme

Host:   You have been listening to the show, You’ve heard the rumblings on social and mainstream media of hideous rape events including that against Uwa, Farishina, Barakat, the four-year-old at school, and many more – and you live it daily through your work supporting women who face gruesome abuse. Do you have a hypothesis for why this shadow pandemic is happening?

Guest: With the COVID-19 outbreak and the mandated precautionary measure of confining people to their homes to essentially slow down the spread of the virus, globally about 90 countries complied so we had around 2.6 confined to their homes to slow down the spread. What resulted from this measure is a shadow pandemic which had become apparent with the increase in the number of cases of sexual and gender-based violence against girls, women, men and predominantly children confined at home in isolation with their abusers. Prior to the pandemic I must say domestic and sexual violence was already one of the most significant human rights violations. we had almost 250 million women and girls across the world being subjected to a form of violence to another and in Nigeria we had 1 in 4 girls before the age of 18 who was said to have experienced at least on sexual encounter. During the lock down, as a result of the pandemic, this precarious time foisted a lot of tension and strain in many households that was already volatile and with the added anxiety and frustrations over health security, the uncertainty of ones finances the number of cases being reported started to escalate. In the first two weeks of the lockdown the organisation noted a 64% increase in calls made to our 24 hours confidential helpline and 72% where from women.

Host:   That’s fantastic the work that you do. I don’t know how you sleep at night; you have had to literally lived through the experiences of this women but tell me is the situation worsening or is it being amplified by social media? And why do you think that despite our various laws and regulations such as the Child Rights Act, VAPP, Sexual Offenses Bill, etc, daily women and girls – even men and boys – are still being attacked?

Guest: The prevalence of gender based violence against both men and women is not necessarily increasing, I believe what we are seeing is better reporting with more platforms readily available to survivors to speak out against the abused and more members of households and communities actually willing to listen and believe the survivors. The issue of Gender based violence is one that is prevalent in Nigeria and Nigeria as we know is patriarchal women are placed in that stereotypical role of being subordinate to men and then we have our strong social, traditional and cultural practices that encourage these disparities so in many homes women are actually made to feel powerless and then they are hindered in their ability to make the right choices in preventing acts of violence, when we talk about rape and sexual violence in our community it is usually seen as a stigma or stain on the name of the affected young woman and so she is not encouraged not to seek out help she is actually encouraged to stay silent because the family are so concerned with the hypocrisy of the family name and this culture of silence encourages perpetrators to continue to act with impunity

Host:   You see that Patriarchy and lack of support I think is what is exacerbating the situation, so often times you have mother in the home who knows that something is going wrong and they can do nothing about it because they are not empowered to go beyond their home or they fear that if they speak up it would destroy their home and because their self-identities are tied around the fact that they have marital relationship, they do nothing about it, it is very sad that women have to go through so many things in life, looking after children and yet be subjected to this kind of things but as a result there have been many instances where minors have been victims of sexual violence for example in Edo state a man was caught red-handed defiling two minors aged 5 and 6, and I’ve read that the world has witnessed a mother as young as 5 years old, impregnated by her grandfather. And we know that a large percentage of sexual assault is meted out by close family members or intimate partners. Is the punishment for offenders in such a category tougher? Do you see more cases prosecuted in that category?

Guest: To understand the different acts of violence that have occurred in the examples you have given Bekeme and to determine if the punitive measures carried out are appropriate, we first need to understand the legal terminology. When we talk about rape or if we are to say that rape has occurred essentially what we are saying is a person intentionally carries out a penetrative sexual act and this is performed on another without consent, the penalty for rape is life imprisonment. Now when we look at child defilement legally it typically means that this act is carried out by a person and it is an unlawful sexual act and usually by law this young individual is under the age of 13. Now again this is considered a felony and is liable to life imprisonment. So as an organisation we do have a significantly higher number of cases and involving minors under the age of 18 but there is not a enough available statistics data to be able to say that the prosecutor cases are therefore higher with regards to this group. What I would say however is the fact that not enough cases seen in both categories.

Host:   Before we carry on, we would go on a short break from the Good Citizen radio show and we will be right back.

{break}

            Welcome back guys to the Good Citizen Radio show. I have been talking to Dr. Kemi Da-Silva Ibru on the issue of rape and the topic is No means No. We have looked at how historically women and girls have typically faced Gender Violence, sexual assault and rape, we have looked at the different laws and have tried to determine whether they provide enough support for women but it turns out that probably isn’t but it’s just about one beautiful thing about social media, so we get to hear more of these stories and we get to lend voices to make sure that this problem go away.

Now Dr. Kemi in the midst of all these some deviants have been stating that it is not possible for one man to rape a women right that women are thought to say no when we mean yes just to that we appear elusive and hard to get and as such many instances of rape accusations are consensual acts that have gone sour. In an instance where a victim had initially engaged in sexual associations with the accused, how does the law determine if the sexual act was consensual or assault? How must the victim present his or her case?

Guest: In making a determination as to whether an act is consensual or considered more aggressive such as a sexual assault, it simply is based on the issue of consent. Sexual consent typically refers to an individual willingly and enthusiastically agreeing to have sex or engage in a sexual activity with another. This has to be informed and the choice has to be between two consenting adults. A consenting adult is based on the legal age in a country and in Nigeria, this is age 18. Consent cannot be obtained through the use of bribery, threats, fraud and deception, and an individual cannot give consent if they are unconscious or under the influence of alcohol or any known or unknown substances. It is also important to note that consent can be given and taken back so in other words one can change one’s mind after initially agreeing and saying yes you can turn around and say no and change your mind.

Host:   So you are saying basically, firstly you cannot give consent if you are younger than 18 so anybody who is thinking it, just have a rethink anybody under 18 cannot give you consent to have sex with them and if you are asleep or under the influence of alcohol or any known substances a person cannot have sex with you and claim that it was consensual the law protects you in that sense and you can also say that you want that sexual relation but then change your mind but whoever it is has to stop because it is your body and your decision. So anybody listening to this who have gone through this should know that you are protected by the law and you have a case.

            If you have been listening to the show, you do need support, you can reach out to organizations like WARIF that provide support not only free medical care, HIV testing and Forensic examination and counseling but also the necessary social support that you may need. WARIF is located at 6-13 street off Bourbon Avenue Yaba Lagos and they are open till 5pm every day, it is a walk in center you can also call them on 08092100008, its been a fantastic time listening to contributions by Dr. Kemi Da-Silva Ibru

Guest:   Thank once again for having me Bekeme.

Host:     Thank you Dr Kemi Ibru for coming on the show and let’s remember that we are here to keep on supporting you with tips on how you can overcome this if you have been a victim of sexual assault or rape please reach out to someone that you trust, it is common to think that nobody will believe you but do reach out to somebody and you will see that you might get the help that you need, consider joining support group as well for other rape survivors as well to have those conversations to get rid of those conversations so that you can take the right decisions of your life going forward, very importantly if you are a victim of sexual assault or if you have any information that can help the police investigate sexual offense, please contact the police number, The Gender false Unit on 080393997951 or the complaint response unit 080570000001. Follow us at Good Citizen NG every Friday at 8pm on Inspiration 92.8fm to listen to the show and ask your colleague, friend and family to listen as well. I am your host Bekeme and you have been listening to the Good Citizen radio show brought to you by CSR-in-Action and funded by ACT Foundation.

            Have blessed evening, keep being fantastic.

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