By Ovundah Nyeche.
Few months ago, I got a call from a friend, she had called me a day before due to a health challenge and I had told her what to do. I assumed she was still calling me for the same issue, which I felt was minor, besides I just arrived home from an in-law’s wedding ceremony and was very tired.
However one missed call soon turned to four missed calls and surprisingly there was no accompanying text message from her; so I had no option but to pick her call.
However when I picked her call, I noticed her voice was uncharacteristically very low, as though she was trying to hide something. I also felt she was moving away from a group of people who sounded noisy at the background, there also seemed some form of urgency as she spoke, it was obvious all was indeed not well. She then told me that the reason she was calling was on behalf of a family friend, a teenage female, who left home in the morning for an errand, and did not return according to schedule but was found later viciously raped.
According to her the victim was speechless and disoriented, surrounded by sympathizers who came to felicitate with the family that the missing girl was found. She was speaking in a very low voice so no sympathizer would know what happened. She called me actually to ask what drug I would prescribe for the young lady.
The rape cycle is predictable down here, silence, probably blame the victim, silence once again, probably the police and lawyers are not involved because again this is breaks the silence. Because of the stigma that usually accompanies rape coupled with poverty, many families prefer to keep silent about it and as we say down here “Leave it to God”. The ignorant wish the events away and in due time the victim’s tummy grows or she is infected with one disease or the other and probably is traumatized and torn from inside out.
Let me dispel some myths about rape:
- Rape is not common: Says who, statistics say before 18 years 1 in 4 girls, and 1 in 6-7 boys have been raped. Ironically less than 10% of these cases are reported, and boys are also raped.
- Happens in only poor places and to the uneducated: Says who, the above story happened in a rich neighborhood and the victim was by no means uneducated.
- Rape is committed by strangers alone: No way, 70-90% are people the person knows and trusts. The rapist may be a friend, sibling, parent, teacher or even religious figure.
- Happens in the dark and outside: No matter how true this sounds, rape happens in more than 60% of cases in people’s homes.
- She said no, but meant yes: No means no. No still means no, even if she told you yes initially.
- Caused by the victim, how she dresses: Says who, while it is true the way you dress can cause undue attention in your direction and it is good for people to dress well, it is erroneous to blame someone for getting raped because of how she dressed. No matter how beautiful clothes are displayed in a boutique, you are a criminal if you break into the boutique to steal clothes. Rape is a violent crime and here sex is the weapon.
Now let’s get back to the story, I put a call across, to a colleague and asked for her advice, she gave me some numbers and advised me on the course of actions to take.
The reality is that there is life after rape and if you are raped you will need medical help immediately or within 72 hours (3 days), also it would be in your best interest to let trusted people know and get the police and lawyers involved.
In Nigeria it is important you visit a Government hospital immediately, here doctors would document your complaints, examine you and give you some medications, and these documentations will be very useful especially when you get the police and lawyers involved.
Here in Port Harcourt the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) /Doctors Without Borders, an International Emergency Medical Organization run a free sexual and gender based violence clinic.
If survivors seek medical care within the first three days, they will benefit from free post exposure prophylaxis for HIV, prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and booster shots for tetanus and Hepatitis B Virus. Including treatment of local wounds if any as well as psychological support.
You can Call 09033555455, 07058890060 or visit the Orogbum Health Centre, Ogbunabali by Garrison Bus Stop, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. 7am-7pm, 7 days a week.
I got a message soon afterwards that the young lady was attended to and is now fine. There is indeed life after rape; don’t die in silence, make that move! People are willing to listen and help.