Rape epidemic: why virtual protest cannot stop yet

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Once on an internship in a police station was a conversation with a high ranked Officer about a 13-year old girl whose father had received N100, 000 to drop her rape case. The girl who became pregnant was gang raped by 6 men, one of whom was positive with Hepatitis B. On behalf of the rapists, a religious leader from one of the offender’s family pleaded with the Father of the victim to drop the case- which he did- for N100, 000.

‘So what would happen to the girl, her baby, her mental health, her education, her entire life?’ I asked.

‘Cases like this are not new, there is nothing for the girl’. The officer replied.

I became angry about the whole story. Justice had just been rubbed off the face of a 13-year old girl. This rape case had happened few weeks before my internship and I thought about those that had happened months and years before.

But wait, what about cases yet to come? Is there hope for justice? With recent rape and killing cases like Jennifer’s, I doubt it.

In April 2020, 18-year-old Jennifer who was gang raped by five boys has been asked to drop the case as the families of two of the rapist offered N15,000 each. While the case is still on, PUNCH reported that the police have been accused of attempting to cover up the case.

This is how far we know about the story but this is enough to predict whether or not Jennifer would get justice.

The intensity of the protests on social media has pressured the authorities to respond. We cannot stop yet. #JusticeforUwa #JusticeforJennifer #JusticeforTina Click To Tweet

Social Media is a starting point

Recent rape cases and killing have caused outrage among many Nigerians. While a few are able to organise physical rallies, others are taking to social media to demand justice. The intensity of the protests on social media has pressured the authorities to respond.

In the case of Tina who was shot and killed by policemen in Lagos, The Police Command claimed that two policemen had been arrested over her case and that investigation was on.

Likewise for Omozuwa who was raped and murdered in a church in Edo State, the Governor of Edo State tweeted that he had ordered the Police to investigate the case and prosecute anyone found guilty.

Although social media cannot give justice, it can definitely pressure authorities to take actions they may have ignored

Although social media cannot give justice, it can definitely pressure authorities to take actions they may have ignored. Click To Tweet

Beyond one day protest

The justice that Uwa, Tina, Jennifer and other abused persons deserve cannot be gotten on social media. As usual, many of these cases may be forgotten soon. Past cases have proved that authorities’ promises to pursue justice are usually trashed once the cases are no longer trending.

An example is that of a former lecturer in the University of Ilorin who was found guilty of raping a 17-year-old student on campus. The lecturer, Solomon Olowookere was allowed to resign silently. While the University succeeded in protecting the abuser’s image, it neglected the trauma the innocent girl would face. Before he resigned, the story sprang up outcry which pressured the school authority to make promises. However, after a while, the case was put to rest.

Just like first story narrated here, there are many more cases that are quickly forgotten and victims never get justice. Their families are pressured to drop charges or are even frustrated by the authorities. The victims and their families are left to suffer the stigma, trauma and health complications.

The land is filled with injustice but to get justice, protests must not stop. Only few days after these recent cases, the outcry on the internet is lessening. This is a threat to these cases as they may become history like other unjustified and forgotten cases. The authorities would only keep acting if the outrage on social media continues. Virtual protests cannot stop yet.

Related: Why rape cases may increase during pandemic

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