We; are Ochanya of Ugbokolo

‘His voice husky and  groggy from too much alcohol, he grabbed my arm fiercely and pulled me to himself whispering into my ear ‘I love you, I will be your protector’.

I froze with fear and could not say anything. He fondled my breast with his other hand and gradually found his way downwards to my waist and attempted pushing his hands into my trousers. But the belt was too tight, so he couldn’t. Then he pushed the hand further down to my privates rubbing them through the jeans and breathing hard. I was terrified and could not even scream’.

Those were the words of a victim of sexual assault in a court hearing I was fortunate to witness in the UK. And it is appalling to know that as developed and advanced as the UK is, such crimes are still happening regularly.
The judicial system in the UK is one of the most effective and just court systems; yet cases of sexual abuse are still being heard in courtrooms. It is not the failure of the system or society; because rape, sexual abuse and paedophilia are not treated lightly in the Crown courts. The laws are there, and anyone caught guilty of such crime faces the music.

So why are sexual crimes still being committed? The answer is simple; because throughout the age’s men have always been made to believe they can do anything and get away with it simply because they are men. Because society has ingrained in them that they can get any woman they want with or without her consent because they are men. Because society has made them believe that they are polygamous in nature, they are the only ones entitled to multiple sexual partners and that they cannot control their sexual desires; it must control them else they are not men.
If such crimes can continue to happen in saner climes where justice is sacrosanct, and people have a very long rope to realise their sexual fantasies and fetishes; what then do you think will happen in societies like ours that is oppressive, suppressive and justice is nothing?

How many times have you seen a certified rapist or paedophile walk freely on the streets without having to undergo any form of punishment for his crimes? I remember some years  a District head and his son were caught sodomising young boys in his area, what happened? He was just relieved of his position as district head and himself and his son continued to walk free while the parents of the boys they sodomised were left sating ‘Allah ya isa’. And I can assure you they are still married to their wives and perhaps have even added more wives.

These monsters who rape day in day out and get away with it are a product of our social inadequacies and cultural beliefs that have no values and we have refused to change them.
Believe it or not, there are a million and one Ochanyas whose stories will never be heard because they will never be told.
It was not until recently I realised that in actual truth, many young Girls and women are victims of sexual abuse, without knowing it.

I remember being squeezed to the wall inside the hospital several times as a teenager when I went to the pharmacy to get medications. Or my nimble breasts being fondled as I walk by; by grown up men known to me and those I trust. It was not something I ever gave a second taught because I had no idea what they were doing, I just know it was not pleasant and I didn’t like it. Besides, who would even believe me if I say it? No one that is if I am even listened to.

How many women have been helped sincerely and wholeheartedly by a man without him asking for sexual gratification? How many men do anything for a woman without expecting a sexual gratification from her?
How do we hope to create a safe society for Girls and women when we keep telling boys who grow up to be men that it is a man’s world? How do we propose to ensure our women are safe when we keep telling the men they can dictate and coerce women into anything they want? That they should not offer any help or assistance to any woman unless she gives them something back?

How do we hope to live in a society devoid of sexual crimes when we keep making men predators and women their prey?

It is in the small things that we keep overlooking that our problems lie. It is my hope that we begin to address these issues on time for us to make any meaningful change; before it becomes too late.
Before Ochanya’s death, many have gone through this phase, and many still are. If we want to stop this evil in its tracks, we got to start from the home front.
May the souls of all young Girls and women who have been victims of sexual crimes be avenged both in this life and the hereafter.

Hawwah A Gambo

Journalist and Social Enterprenuer

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