REMINISCENT

With the National outrage in India over the rape and murder of a 27 years old Veterinarian and another 23 years old rape victim being set on fire on her way to testify in court, I can't help but recall an incident that happened years ago. I got to thinking about the way our society perceive rape and how more often than not , the victims are the ones who get punished. We tend to blame the victim rather than the perpetrators. This incident happened years ago, I was a teenager and living in Aba with my family. Our neighbors had a daughter named 'Chinyere' whom everyone termed ' Promiscuous'. Opposite our house is a two storey building owned by a rich Merchant who has 3 sons. One of this sons is a well known trouble maker called 'Osy'. On the day the incident happened, Osy pretended to be sick and so was left alone at home . He then called Chinyere to come and prepare spaghetti for him. Unknown to her he had 5 of his friends waiting and when she got there, they raped her one after the other . After the crime, they seized her clothes and pushed her out on the street stark naked. You would think people will condemn Osy and his friends but the reverse was the case. Chinyere was severely beaten by her parents and that was it. For months, Osy and his friends boasted openly about how they flogged her with belts when she refused to open her legs and other details of the rape. The girl couldn't walk through the street without one of them taunting and mocking her, she was about 19 years old then. Last I checked, both perpetrators and victim are still alive, all married with kids. Looking at the incident now from the perspective of an adult, I can't help but wonder! Why the parents thought their child deserved to be beaten and the Criminals spared? Why no one spoke out for that innocent girl? Why the perpetrators were the ones mocking the victim and not the other way round? Why the victim had to bow her head in shame while the perpetrators walk with their shoulders straight and their heads high? Could it be that deep inside, our society doesn't really see rape as a serious crime? Could it be that deep inside, we tend to think that anyone who gets raped had it coming? Why is it that judges in court are quick to tell victims to dress the way they were dressed the day they were raped? Why are there more excuses for the perpetrators than sympathy for the victims. I can't even begin to imagine the trauma, that girl had to go through , first in the hands of her torturers and then in the hands of her parents or the shame she had to face afterwards. Our society has to start looking at rape, not with the eyes of the rapist but with the eyes of the victim. We need to first chase away the Wolf before we blame the hen for being careless with her chicks. Women and girls please be careful, who you trust and where you go. It isn't safe out there and at the end of the day the only person that can truly take care of you, is you. Like the songwriter wrote' No one else can feel the rain on your skin'. Be safe this season.

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