Gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancies and the family

Concluding part:

Case I: Shade was in SS1 when her classmate, Tunde, who she fancied, invited her to his birthday party on Saturday at his house. He assured her that other classmates would be there and he would really want her to be his special guest. It was for 2pm but she knew if she mentioned the word ‘party’ her mother would not allow her out of the house. And she really wanted to attend Tunde’s birthday.

The good thing was that it was in the afternoon and she could just spend two hours and then be back home before 5pm. In any case, her parents also had  three weddings and other social engagements and she was sure they would not return home before 7pm. So, she bid her time until her parents went out at 12 noon. Then she swore her younger ones to secrecy and sneaked out of the house.

She located the house and Tunde ushered her into the compound. She was surprised to see that the house was quiet and there was no one else there. Where is everyone else? Your parents? When is the party? She asked. But then, two other boys came out of a room holding knives. They threatened her with the knife and proceeded to rape her.

They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone. She cried all the way home in a taxi. But she couldn’t bring herself to tell her parents. After all, it was her fault and she went to Tunde’s house by herself. They will be mad at me, she thought. She was really upset and moody but she bore it silently. She dreaded going to school on Monday and seeing the boys.

Her worst fears were confirmed when almost everyone in school were giggling in her direction everywhere she went. Her best friend, Fatima, came and pulled her to a corner and asked her what happened on Saturday. She just started crying. Fatima hugged and comforted her but told her to take sick leave and go home. She joined her in the taxi and followed her home. It was only when they were safely in Shade’s house that Fatima told her that the boys were showing her nude pictures all around the school and bragging about it.

Shade had not realized that they were taking pictures of her with their phones. At that moment, she started sobbing really hard. How would she ever show her face ever again? What if they shared it on social media? What would happen to her parents? She wanted the earth to simply open up and swallow her. Fatima consoled her as much as she could and encouraged her to tell her parents when they arrive, but she had to leave.

The moment she left, Shade decided that the best way out was to simply die and save everyone the humiliation. She went out to buy some drugs and then took it. By the time her parents returned from work, they were shocked to see her and rushed her to hospital.

Luckily, she was revived and she then broke down in tears and confided in her parents. They were horrified and promptly reported to the police and the boys were arrested. They did not deny their offence and the images were still on their phones.

The story, however, changed after a week. The families of the boys had been pleading with Shade’s parents. They also recruited mutual friends of the families including clergy to temper justice with mercy and that the boys were already remorseful and had learnt their lessons. Then the subtle blackmail was also introduced.

If this case proceeded and was reported in the media, their daughter’s reputation would be ruined and she would find it difficult to get a good husband in the future. Shade’s parents began to waiver in their resolve. When their own family members joined in telling them to hush it up, and leave vengeance for God, they finally caved in. They asked the police to release the boys with threats to ensure they deleted all the pictures and that if any ever surfaced, they would be re-arrested.

Shade’s parents resolved to relocate to a different city and start afresh, hoping that Shade would recover and forget the episode. But for now, they would support her ongoing treatment for depression.

Conclusion: A society where there are no consequences for bad actions is inadvertently rewarding it. Parents, clergy, families, schools and the society all have a role to play in moulding behaviour and acceptable standards of what is acceptable and what is not. Suicide should never be an option. Let’s all reflect on what we can all do to ensure we stamp out these savage behaviours….starting with the children under your care as a parent or teacher. How are you training them?

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