The President in a statement released after the #SexForMarks investigation that forced the Nation to focus on the prevalent sexual abuses in our institutions of learning, acknowledged the need to do more to protect women against sexual abuse and all form of discrimination that they face. He directed the law enforcement agencies to take up such cases and ensure the perpetrators face the consequences of their actions. He also called for the shaming of the victims to be stopped.
The statement so beautifully written gives hope of a searchlight on the perpetrators of sexual abuses and justice for the victims. Alas this might not be so for the President has repeatedly shown that his statements are not worth the paper on which they are written. He has consistently not followed up on his words and most often he does the exact opposite. Many have been disappointed by the lack of actions that seem to follow the President’s statements. It almost seems as if there is a deliberate sabotage but sadly one is forced to conclude that nobody cares.
This is not the first time that the Nation has been rocked by scandal involving abuse of women. The abuse of women has repeatedly been seen as an irritation when the news breaks rather than the crime that it is, with the victims more often than not being the ones that are blamed. A few years ago news of women being forced to use their bodies in exchange for food and gate pass at various Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp rocked the Nation. There has also been series of abuses of women in places of worship but as usual nothing comes out of the outrage and we all move on waiting for the next scandal to break.
The security agencies most especially the Nigeria Police Force has repeatedly been enmeshed in various allegations of sexual harassment against it. Most notably was the one against the very past Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Kpotun Idris. He was alleged to give undue favour to policewomen he was in relationship with. The then Inspector General of Police never denied these allegations and in series of interviews boasted of the fact that he can go out with any policewoman and there was nothing in the law that made it illegal for an affair between him and his subordinates. Nigeria being what it is he did get away with it. The President never uttered a word on the issue and there was never repercussions for not only sexually harassing subordinates but also unduly favouring some and therefore causing disharmony and mistrust amongst his subordinates. He went on to finish his tenure. One can only imagine what happened to those who did not give in to his advances.
In recent times also police have been accused of demanding sex for bail from women they arrest in Abuja and even though there have been huge outcry nothing came out of it. There was no Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate this serious accusation against an institution that is supposed to protect the citizens neither has there been a probe to ascertain and put an end to the repeated cases of sexual allegations levied against the very institution that is supposed to investigate and bring to book the perpetrators of sexual harassment and molestation. One wonders how a police force that has been so accused of sexual harassment and molestation to tackle same by others. Are we to conclude once again this the usual say something and forget about it attitude we have come to expect from the President?
From offices to markets and from places of worship to hospitals women are being sexually harassed. Even in their houses women are not safe and it never matters whether they are all covered up or they are married. It also does not matter their age. Increasingly women are falling victims to perpetrators who want to exert their dominance and power over those they seem to view as hapless victims. Some women have been denied promotion just for refusing to sleep with their bosses others have had to forfeit their education. Many are daily plagued by lecherous men whose one desire is to conquer every woman they see. It seems like a game they take delight in playing while destroying the lives of their victims. We all must rise up to put an end to this menace. Sexual harassment and molestation is more than a physical crime. It is a mental and psychological crime and the victims are affected for years if not for a lifetime. Let us stop the shaming that has forced many into silence and enough of the system that has allowed the impunity. It is time for action to be taken by the Nation!