This past week has been especially tough for Nigerian women. The terrible news of rape, murder and police brutality has been painful for all of us. We have had campaigns online and some brave women even took it to the police station to demand justice. Many of us have been here before, we remember that the Nigerian government has continued to fail women and young girls in this country. There is a feeling of helplessness, that in a week or two this issue will blow over and we will all forget until the next case. So, what can we do the keep the conversation going? How can we fight the rape culture in Nigeria?
Supporting and believing victims is the first step for me because time has shown that rapists always bank on the fact that people wouldn’t believe the victims. This is changing slowly but there is still a lot of work to do. If someone tells you they were raped, you shouldn’t say “are you sure?” or something that stops them from speaking. Yes, we know that a very tiny number of women lie about rape, but the majority doesn’t. Believe women. Encourage but don’t pressure them to visit organizations like Stand to End Rape and Mirabel Center that works with rape victims in Nigeria.
Not everyone can do this work but if you can don’t shy away from it. There are so many important conversations we’ve had as Nigerians through social media. Don’t get tired of speaking out. If someone in your circle makes a rape joke, speak out immediately. If you see an opportunity to teach a young person about consent, do it. There are so many teachable moments. Lots of Nigerians live in ignorance, especially in our rural communities.
This is even more difficult, but we should never be afraid to challenge authority on rape issues. If our parents, or religious leaders make statements that encourage rape call them out. Let them know it is wrong. The change might not come immediately but there will be progress. We have gone past the time of keeping quiet.
Not everyone can educate or challenge people, so if you have the means, donate. I personally have made a promise to donate to NGOS battling rape every month. It doesn’t need to be a huge amount, anything you send goes in long way in helping the NGOs financially and in essence helping victims of rape
Cut off rapists
We have a sort of tradition of forgiving criminals especially rapists in Nigeria because “he/she is my person.” Rape is a serious crime. Don’t support businesses of rapists, cut them off from your circle, even if justice has not been served to them yet. If your favourite musician is a rapist, stop streaming their music. If it is a comedian, don’t listen to them anymore etc. Let us make the world uncomfortable for rapists.