The stories were all the same. Their common denominator was chilling. For instance, there was the story of a 78-year-old landlord who defiled his tenant’s daughter. There was also that of a 10-year-old girl who was defiled by a student in one of the high institutions in Enugu. The student in question was staying with the girl’s family.
Narrating her story, the nine-year-old girl (name withheld) said that her landlord used threats and intimidation on her before committing the act on June 1.
She recalled how the suspect, Chief Ogbodo, invited her to his flat while he was alone and stripped her naked before assaulting her several times.
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She recalled that after the act, she started bleeding severely and the suspect tried unsuccessfully to stop the bleeding, deploying both his handkerchief and shirt to clean the blood. She said he was still battling with the bleeding when his wife arrived and began knocking at the door.
“While he was cleaning, the wife came knocking at the door; the wife’s knock was so loud. When he later opened the door, the wife asked me about what the husband did, and I told her,” the girl recalled.
Our correspondent learnt that the case was charged to court and the man duly remanded. He was however, released and the case file was moved to the office of the DPP.
Similarly, a young woman narrated her experience at the hands of rapists who appear to have taken over the Coal City.
“I came out in the middle of the night to ease myself. But unknown to me, about five boys were hanging around the house. Immediately they sighted me, they attacked me, grabbed me and took turns to rape me. Afterwards, I reported the case to the police. Three of them were arrested, while two ran away. Since then, I have been receiving counselling and treatment at Tamar Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).”
Another victim a 14-year-old girl said that she was passing through a lonely lane in the city when three boys allegedly pounced on her, beat her up and violated her sexually.
Also speaking, a distraught father of a young girl whose daughter was assaulted in his presence narrated the ugly incident. “I was inside my house at midnight when robbers barged into my home. They robbed me of my money and other valuables. They tortured me and then defiled my daughter right in my presence.”
With no fewer than 320 cases of sexual assault recorded in less than one year, it might not be out of place to say that rapists were actively on the prowl in the Coal City hitherto, known for peace and social tranquility.
TAMAR Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), a joint initiative of Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL) in partnership with the Enugu State Government, is a child of necessity born out of the need to check the incessant cases of rape in the state.
The ministries of Health, Justice, Gender Affairs and Social Development, the reporter learnt, are involved alongside the Enugu State Police Command. They are all partners in the fight against rape.
Set up in March 2014, TAMAR SARC provides high quality and confidential, medical, counseling and other support services to victims and survivors of sexual assaults so that justice could be achieved. It provides medical treatment, drugs, counseling forensic medical examinations/reports as well as supports recovery and encourages reporting of rape cases and other sexual assaults to ensure that justice prevails.
During a recent meeting with journalists in Enugu, the organisation announced that a staggering number of 320 rape cases were recorded in the state between April 2004 and 2015. The report also showed that 25 victims out of the reported cases were girls under the age of five while 57 were below the age of 10.
The report revealed that most of the perpetrators were often known to the victims. Most of the victims, 243 in number, were raped by one person while 72 cases were gang raped.
Presenting the statistical report during a meeting with Media Against Violence Network, the manager of Tamar SARC, Miss Nkechi Nwabueze, noted that the figure reflected only the few cases reported to the office, adding that many cases were not reported. Out of the cases, only one was successfully prosecuted. She revealed that the perpetrator was already doing a 14-year-jail term.
Miss Nwabueze said the media parley, was to brief journalists on the activities of Tamar SARC and seek their partnership in the fight against rape. The media and the general public she said, owed a duty to protect the children and youths by frequently reporting sexual violence and its consequences to the society.
She added that out of the 320 cases recorded by the centre, only 28 were charged to court. She attributed the low record of prosecution to the reluctance of parents and victims’ in seeking legal redress and the culture of silence associated with rape.
“Tamar SARC’s door is always open; we just need people to report cases through our hotline. They can also visit our office,” she said.
She lamented that some parents always retreated when it came to pursuing cases, stressing that any rapist or paedophile must be sent to jail to serve as a deterrent to others, thus stopping serial rapists who were on the prowl.
Also speaking at the event, the Behavioural Change Communication Officer at Path2, Mr. George Eki, said that the society needed champions of change, and urged the journalists to take the lead battle against sexual violence by effectively reporting rape cases.
While reacting to the rising incidence of rape in the society, the Executive Director, WACOL, (Tamar SARC’s parent body), Dr. Joy Ezeilo, said that the organisation’s records revealed that most perpetrators of sexual assault were people close to the victims including their teachers, security men, drivers, house helps or people working around them.
“Some of the men who do these things are related to the pupils in their schools. We have seen a case where a teacher defiled several pupils in his school. Please let us watch our girl children and create that confidence in them.”
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