NO doubts, raping in recent time has assumed a major social ill confronting Nigerian Federation. It is today in a critical stage and rising at an alarming rate such that its mention before a woman reels out or puts in her a state of phobia and shock against a society unable to give her womanhood maximum protection. Clearly therefore, the crime of rape in whatever form is totally bad and wholly unacceptable in all ramifications. Sure and to this extent, no human can say anything in contrast.
First, the knowledge of the crime sends out ripples of negative passions across to people who care in view of its sordid, hurtful, fear-inducing and frightening dimensions. Besides, the situation of the crime is also highly insidious, given the fact that it is never a common place occurrence but hideously committed outside the glue of a third element makes pre-knowledge and pre-emptive steps impossible and difficult. By this, the victim is exposed to face the most critical nightmare a woman can encounter which invariably puts the family, relations, friends to psychological trauma.
Along with its emotive trappings, it is proper to situate rape as one of the embarrassing fall-outs from a wave of thoughts that burst open for discussion in Europe. This thought evidently was spearheaded by many people including parents with burning desire for greater freedom especially in sexual matters. Eventually, this desire in the late middle of twentieth century across early 1960s climaxed in the entry of permissive life-style dubbed permissive society by Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary which there-in set the ball rolling for loose behaviour and attitudes in many parts of Europe especially in the West.
Now, whatever the architects of permissiveness wanted to achieve, its wake especially concerning sexuality activated sexual promiscuity and prostitution in the first instance with rape, incest, gay, lesbianism, sodomy as follow up development in defiance of Christian religious norms which most European nations adopted in moulding their civil laws.
Again, history ought to be a better teacher but without a damn about caution against the backdrop of the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah that were reduced to rubbles by two angles of God is enough counsel. Whence abduction and rape, kidnapping and ransom, armed robbery, banditry and homicide, adultery, fornication and abortion, among others came to public glare and in no time escalated to the dislike of the government and the society in advanced nations.
There is need to state here that these varying types of sophisticated crimes were alien to Africa but unfortunately in no time the bad life got ferried to the nations of Africa with impunity and with no regard for their culture. It is obvious they entered the territorial boundaries of Africa through European merchants and their colonial civil servants, sailors, tourists, African elite returning from Europe, at a time the nationalists were engaged in the final stage of the struggle for full freedom from their respective colonial masters.
Good enough, the premonition that the wanton behaviourial patterns of life would erode African nations of their cherished cultural values and the emerging Christian ethos systematically informed the need for pre-emptive action. In relation to this point of view, it seemed, aroused the great mind of a renowned jurist and activist, Justice Odogwu of the Onitsha Judicial Province to foresee the peril in permissive life which was insidiously creeping into the psyche of African nations in the late mid twentieth century and the early 1960s.
The nationalistic fervor and disposition of the likes of Justice Odogwu would not allow the Dead Sea from Europe to flow to Igbo nation and indeed to Nigeria or Africa. Soon, he constituted himself into a lone ranger moral crusader in tandem with his positive conscience. Odogwu, a judge of the Magistrate Court preached theory as well as applied action deemed necessary to tame the fledgling cankerworm of loose life, better permissive society from gaining any footing at Onitsha through effective utilisation of the bench for good of the society.
For avoidance of doubt, the consummate application of Christian nationalism with its inflamed passion of good, love and patriotism informed Odogwu’s unalloyed devotion to the cause of virtue that would unite man and his maker both at the bench and elsewhere. In consummation of his pet dream for an ideal Christian and Igbo social life away from the corrupt permissive society, he easily caused the arrest of prostitutes in brothels, joints, hideouts along with their customers and criminals.
His dragnet extended to youths, males and females who wore sensuous clothes as they paraded the streets. The popular dress fashion then for females included cross no-gutter, bikini, slit clothes and for males, tanner knickers and trousers.
The jurist, it is learnt, hardly spared any person in tackling societal ills such that while driving, he would not hesitate to put to arrest or caution any person on clothes considered indecent, that exposed the sensual parts. His method of punishment included labour for hours, days, week, month or option of fine. For the victim to be freed, a new decent cloth would be brought with a pledge to remain good citizens.
Thus, it is evident that this courageous jurist and moral crusader was indeed seen as a thorn in the flesh of morally depraved citizens in the late 1950s and early sixties. He fought loose life to standstill. His campaign for untainted morality was so efficacious to the extent that when he was no longer available at Onitsha, either by death or by transfer to another judicial division, there arose spontaneous passion-laden music cum song with the theme: Onitsha nulibazia nu na Odogwu anorozi, translated in English to mean the people residing in Onitsha, rejoice since justice Odogwu is no more available. As a matter of fact, this jurist, Justice Odogwu will go down as a man whose moral activism sent prostitution, sexual promiscuity and indecent dressing into oblivion.
Unfortunately, the contrast is the reverse in contemporary Nigeria setting. The battle that debilitated lust prostitution along with its appendages was not sustained in Nigeria, thus making permissive order entrenched from 1970s. The period of social misdeeds, promiscuity, rape and prostitution, among other heinous crimes reached momentum with the coming of Generation X, a by-product of permissive society seen by A.S Hornby, in his Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary as “The group of people who were born between the early 1960s and the middle of the 1970s, who seem to lack a sense of direction in life and to feel that they have no part to play in society.
This postulation cannot be far from reality being the offspring of the founders of permissive society pin-pointed as “the changes towards greater freedom in attitudes and behavior that happened in many countries in the 1960s and 1970s, especially the greater freedom in sexual matters”. They grew up to be carriers of depraved system inherited from their parents and so cities and from there joined in spreading loose life style from Europe to Africa in a massive form. Amid this order, hardly can be found any nation or nations insulated from the deepening acts of permissiveness. For certainty, Nigeria is not one, other-wise, how could the supersonic rise in crime be defended in the country?
Taking the good moral activism of Justice Odogwu for granted opened a dangerous chapter of widening criminality to diverse frontiers. It is no longer sexual promiscuity, lust and prostitution, now there are appendages and adjuncts to rape and other serious crimes that hurt the people in contemporary Nigeria. The nation is thus infested with various types of criminality that opened up from poor handling of permissive society which Odogwu fought to standstill, no movement!
The Nigeria of today began to host bad morality from the 1970s but the wind of change portrayed by Generation X in Nigeria increased armed banditry/ robbery in 1980s, led to the emergence of sophisticated criminality. In no time, abduction and rape, kidnapping and ransom, armed robbery and banditry, incest, adultery, fornication, lesbianism and gay, sodomy, homicide, suicide, etc have taken the socio-cultural and political fabrics of the nation, eating deep and surging virtually every day.
As for rape which is the subject of our discourse, it appears the position of womanhood is getting befuddled daily in Nigeria. Rape case is rising in leaps and bounds which make them unsafe in homes, farms, workplaces, streets. The implication of this is that women can hardly move freely without escort and adequate security.
Given the incessant and varied models in the act of rape, it seems true by a cross-section of female gender to think they are abandoned to suffer their fate. But this should not be so. The actions of civil rights activists do not portray neglect but sympathy from the point of view of public interest. However, the vulnerable opposite sex are the group driving the institution of womanhood’s privacy and sanctity to the mud which is bad and unacceptable.
There is no gain-saying the fact that all parts of a woman evince natural endowment of beauty, elegance, splendor, innocence and admiration. In addition, the movement of their physiognomy, buxom/nipple breasts, buttocks, smile, speech, mannerism and indeed the entire physique combine to present exquisite scene which the lustful, naïve males misconstrue as invitation to fun. Apart from this, some females seduce the opposite sex directly or indirectly through artificial make-up such as the mode of dress, clothes that easily bring out the sensual parts. All help to prepare rapist to strike at any given opportunity irrespective of the age of victim.
At once, it is apt to say once more that it is difficult to pre-empt rape crime in view of its secrecy but not so with other crimes. The background knowledge of Washington and London publications, “Detectives and Police” in 1970s and 1980s, available to some of us in crime and investigative reporters beats confirm this. The magazines had many unresolved rape cases against robbery, kidnapping, etc that were easily traced and prosecuted.
Solution to the crime of rape can be resolved from certain background. First, there has to be community and urban orientation programme involving leaders of thought, worship institutions and social groups, including age grades and women groups. The essence of the orientation is to engineer a new mind that counters raping and its causes. At the end, a robust panacea is likely to be found. This will include institution of taboos by the community, worship centres, etc. In furtherance of this, a general committee of the town drawn from across institutions with pragmatic energy to ensure implementation of pre-emptive measures and sanctions should evolve.
The worship institution which is the most component structure in rural or urban community has great responsibility in beating down the tide of promiscuity and lust. Being leisurely and complacently while dress code is flagrantly abused in the church should be halted. After all, did Christ not sack depraved merchants in the temple with force of courage?
He did. Some donkey years ago, one recalls the up raiding and sending out a famous young lady author out of a Catholic Church at Nsukka, by a Catholic Priest for immodest dress. She came out with a critical response in the media. It is thought the church also sent out a missile. But a pastor of the Pentecostal dared the pretty lady with insightful dressing down. With these, she may rethink her behavior. The emphasis here is for Priests to do the needful as Jesus did.
To the parents, it seems they are too relaxed for parental care as if the children bestowed on them by God will only make it when the nudity is exposed. This is most applicable to girls. Immodest dress reels out promiscuity. The consequence is bad morality which is why prostitution of varying guise is taking place with incestuous acts, rape increasing on a daily basis.
The mothers, young or old and spinsters should be very wary. Unfortunately, the fact that sexual promiscuity, lust, etc do not have any challenge anymore is because children, especially the girls grew up with the exposure received from their parents against the backdrop of the incisive religious practices released by the worship centres.
As a matter of fact, church and parents should partner. The modest dress code should be enforced at all times by the church. The church must take upper hand in moral life of adherents and should also work hand in hand with government to ensure compliance. The battle must start from somewhere which is strict adherence to modest dressing.
There is need to state with strong emphasis that in addition to the above factors that will aid resolving rape and lust, the Justice Odogwu’s model should be tried as a necessary recipe. What the country needs is practical solution. Legislation hardly pre-empts or solves out this level of problem.
Religious and government laws exist at state and federal levels but have they achieved anything to stem the tide of immodesty? Certainly no. Should Justice Odogwu be alive to see the reverse order, he would cry profusely, even as that could sort the Gordian knot by Alexander the Great at one of his major military campaign.