Things happen in this community that I sometimes wonder what the government is doing. One man was given 20 lashes of koboko at the king’s palace for using charms to sleep with a girl. He used juju to lure the girl to his house and slept forcibly with her. It was after the juju cleared from her eyes that the girl realised she was raped!
She never consented to sleeping with the man. Her life is ruined because when people found out , she was stigmatised. She was treated like she was leprous. As if she was responsible for her own rape.
Can you imagine that?
But the story I want to tell today isn’t even about that one; it’s about Habiba, the 14 year old who recently gave birth to a set of twin girls.
Habiba is a sweet child; she runs errands for most of the people living in the quarters. Even though her parents are not too rich, they are very decent folks. They sent her to school. Now because they saw the upsurge in teenage pregnancies rampant in our community, they enrolled her at the local mosque. So she goes there every weekend to learn the Quran.
She was learning the Quran when she began to run errands for the Mallam who owns a shop own the road. He would be in his late 50s or there about.
And she being a good child, didn’t suspect anything when the man began to touch her in places he shouldn’t, telling her he would give her money for her silence.
You know, she is a small girl. Didn’t know she was being molested.
The day he finally had carnal knowledge of this girl; she got home, crying but couldn’t even tell her parents what had happened.
Her mother probed, begged and threatened her in fact, still, Habiba kept quiet. You see, Habiba had been told, he would kill her parents and she would suffer. So she kept her mouth shut and for several weekends, was subjected to repeated rape by this man.
As you know, this type of thing won’t go on forever, Habiba became pregnant.
At first, her mother couldn’t believe her eyes when the girl began to vomit and her stomach showed signs of pregnancy.
“Habiba, where did you get this? Who did this to you?”
I was there when her mother was crying and begging her to talk.
After beating her, you know, our people do not spare their daughters, raped or not, when they find them pregnant. Well, the truth was eventually beaten out of Habiba. She told her people who was responsible.
The matter was taken to the king’s palace who summoned the man responsible for it. But you know, before then, all kinds of insults and slaps had been rained on the poor girl. They said she had joined bad gang.
They said she must have been the one to lure the man into raping her when she told them who it was.
They said she must have enjoyed the act if it was done more than once. People talk all kinds of rubbish.
That is the kind of evil talk coming out from the mouths of elders who should know better.
People who should see that this child is a minor, there is no way she could have either encouraged the act, not lured the man who raped her, a man old enough to even be her grandfather.
At the King’s palace, the man claimed he didn’t know she was a 14 year old.
He claimed he didn’t know he had raped her some many times!
A grown man!
The parents of the girl were just crying but you see, the damage had been done. The king then asked him to pay a fine and give the parents money to settle the girl’s hospital bills. A slap on the writs, if you ask me.
Then someone went to report the matter at the Civil Defence office and they in turn went to investigate. The Civil Defence officers upon discovering the girl was a minor and that it was a case of rape, reported the matter to the police.
What I think happened is this.
The people in the palace had pleaded with the girl’s parents to bury the matter especially as the man, aka the rapist had promised to take care of her pregnancy and months after she gave birth to a set of twins, told them he would marry the girl.
Can you believe this?
Thankfully Habiba’s parents refused to give him their child and her twins but they also refused to pursue the matter with the police. They said their daughter had suffered enough in the community.
She was stigmatized and going to the police involved court cases they didn’t have the energy for; they were told they wouldn’t pay a dime, they were told FIDA, the international Federation of Women Lawyers would fight for her.
I think the shame was too much for them or could be they just wanted to protect their daughter from going to court to give details of what happened. They had heard of how several rape victims had to testify and relive the ordeal. They didn’t want that. So they opted out.
This is a very unfortunate matter because, a rapist is walking free in our community.
He feels justified simply because he offered to marry the victim, as if it atones for what he did to her.
This is the kind of situation many victims face; its either the community pleads with the family to forgive the perpetrator and let bygones be bygones or they say, “it’s a family matter” and so there wouldn’t be a court case to try the rapist and in many cases, the long court cases just deter those seeking justice. Which is why this new VAPP Law they are talking about will change things.
There will be no escape for rapists. Anyone who violates anyone be it man or woman or girl or child…the law will be activated. I think more people should know about it. I like what your Foundation is doing. Thank you.
(True stories written by Peju Akande and culled from report by HADIS Foundation)