In recent times, Nigeria has witnessed several cases of violence against women. This has sparked up the much-needed conversation around rape. As the fight to keep women safe rages on, certain beliefs that encourage rape culture must be revisited and dealt with.
In this vein, we have compiled a list of Nigerian beliefs that unknowingly encourage rape culture. They are:
1. Adults are always right: Many Nigerians, especially South-westerners, believe it is wrong to call an adult a liar. This unknowingly silences children and keeps them from speaking out if they are being preyed on.
2. Child marriage is not wrong: In most parts of Northern Nigeria, child marriage is still allowed and condoned. The law against rape in the North puts the age of consent at 14. It also states that if a girl child has started puberty, then her husband can have sex with her. However, girls start their periods as early as 10 years old. At that age, they can barely make up their minds about food, much less give consent to sex.
3. A woman’s marital duty is to ‘satisfy’ her husband: Almost every tribe in Nigeria subscribes to this belief. And it makes it possible to turn a blind eye when a man rapes his wife. To further strengthen this belief, Nigerian law explicitly states that a man cannot rape his wife. But the law also defines a rapist as ‘any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl without her consent.’ Doesn’t this mean that any woman (married or not) who is forced to have sex is a victim of rape?
4. Rape is somewhat the fault of the victim: Too often in Nigeria, when a rape victim speaks up about the abuse they’ve faced, they are often silenced by victim-shaming. They are made to feel as if they must have caused the rapist to violate their bodies. They are asked questions like, ‘what were you wearing?’ ‘Why did you go there?’ or even ‘why did you start something you couldn’t finish?’ But this has to change because we must ALWAYS remember that the only cause of rape is the rapist.
5. Men cannot be raped: A large number of Nigerians believe that it is impossible to rape a man. But that is untrue. The law about rape does not make any provisions for men. This is wrong. This belief has led to numerous boys getting molested by women all over Nigeria. The worst part is that the men are shamed when they speak up. This ideology must be changed and the law reviewed.
There may be other Nigerian beliefs that help encourage the rape culture but these are some of the most popular ones. If you feel that we missed anyone, please let us know by commenting below.