LOUD WHISPERS: In Dire Need Of Scapegoats

The tragic story of Ochanya Ogbanje, the thirteen-year-old girl who passed away recently after years of sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle and his son, is something straight out of a Nollywood movie. One of the reasons why Nollywood (whether the English speaking or local language sectors) resonates so well with people in our communities, is how real the story telling is perceived to be. What Nollywood productions lack in qualitative production, they make up for in the sheer quantity of the dramatic stories they tell about how people experience class, poverty, gender, power and exploitation. The story of girls like Ochanya has been told in one local production or the other over and over. Poor children are farmed out to more prosperous family members based in the city all the time. Young girls are sexually abused by male members of the family all the time. When these vulnerable young victims try to speak up, they are ignored or silenced all the time. When women’s rights organisations or human rights bodies try to draw attention to the endemic culture of impunity that has taken root in our society, particularly as it relates to the issue of rape and sexual violence, people politely listen, nod or shake their heads, and then walk away – all the time.

I am sure people care about the girls who are abused by their wicked guardians. I believe that there are those who are outraged about what is happening. Yet, a sense of helplessness seems to have overwhelmed many of us because we think we cannot stop or change what is happening. So, we all get caught in a vicious cycle of denial and collusion. The unspeakable sexual abuse that Ochanya suffered at the hands of her uncle and his son that led to her death seems to have sparked a fire that I pray will not die out soon. At last there is enough anger and outrage in the land. People are now screaming ‘Enough’!

Sadly, Ochanya’s story is not an isolated case. As long as poor people keep pushing their children into the hands of unscrupulous relatives or friends, there will always be tales of violence and abuse. This means we have hundreds of thousands of girls at risk. There are hardly any safeguards to protect them. Even where we have laws in place, it is hard to enforce them. The Ochanyas of this world are failed at every turn. Let us take a look at the fate of Ochanya and that of other girls like her:

  1. Parents: Ochanya’s parents failed to provide the required care for their own child due to their poverty. Poverty is not a crime, but negligence is. Although this does not apply yet to the Ochanya case, we have seen instances whereby family members discourage the victims from pressing charges in exchange for financial compensation. I hope reasonable people close to the Ogbanje family will advise them to perish the thought.
  1. Guardians: In Ochanya’s case, this was her Aunt, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja, who took Ochanya into her home and when the abuse of her ward began, she saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke no evil. Incest is not new in our communities, but it has always been a taboo. Ochanya was a child, a girl living in her Aunt’s house with fewer rights than the family dog. Ochanya’s Uncle-in-Law, Andrew Ogbuja, was supposed to be a father to her, and as if this was not bad enough, his son, Victor, who was meant to be an older, protective brother, was the first of the duo to abuse the poor girl.
  1. Teachers: In several instances, the teachers themselves are the culprits. A lot of the abuse of young girls in schools these days is perpetrated by teachers.
  1. The Police: In spite of awareness that has been raised in the police force and the training of many police officers on these issues, reporting a sexual crime to the police is considered to be very undesirable due to the lack of professionalism and empathy. Even in cases where police are supportive, they cave into pressure from families or powerful acquaintances of suspects who want to ‘settle’ the case before it goes to court. The public outcry that followed the initial release of Andrew Ogbuja led to his re-arrest by the police. Otherwise he would have kept on enjoying the benefits of being an untouchable local champion.
  1. Friends: It is not clear from the reports about Ochanya’s experiences whether she confided in any friends. She was probably too young or isolated to have anyone to confide in. Older women who are victims of abuse often talk to their friends, and the kind of support system they end up with depends on the wisdom and courage of the friends they have. A dead friend hears no wails or sighs of regret.

 

We are in dire need of scapegoats to be made an example of. If I had my way, the people standing trial for rape, culpable homicide, negligence, obstruction of justice and so on would include Mr. Andrew Ogbuja, Mr Victor Ogbuja, Mrs Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja and if they are ever tempted to agree to a ‘settlement’, the Ogbanje parents. Any elders, clergy, politicians and the like, who try to obstruct justice in this case should be arrested and made an example of. According to recent reports, Ogbuja father and son were arrested, released and re-arrested. I have not heard of Madam Felicia’s arrest. She is also responsible for the fate of her late niece because she did nothing when she raised the issue of her torment with her. I hate it when we have to say the same thing over and over again. We keep lamenting the sexual violence in our communities, now of pandemic proportions, and we feel so helpless because of the impunity that has infested all our institutions. That is how it is possible for people to be saints during the day and demons in their homes when no one is looking.

We have to stop sharing space with predators, we need to take them on before they gain more power and strength. Let all of us be vigilant. Let us listen to our children and investigate their stories. Nine times out of ten, they are telling the truth. Last week, a case of sexual abuse of a minor was brought to my attention. The perpetrator (caught red handed) is in police custody. I cannot say more than that for now since the case is being dealt with. Just that I am watching everyone involved like a hawk and rubbing my hands in anticipation of a scapegoat. Rest in peace Ochanya. Only God can forgive all those who failed you. I wish you all a great week ahead.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

 

Sign up for Updates

17 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: In Dire Need Of Scapegoats

  1. Lanre Philips October 29, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. God bless you for writing this. I wish I could send a video of me screaming Yesss!! As I read through this. It is unfortunate that this is the mess we are in. How dare the police force release them in the first place? We need to castrate these individuals and for that woman? She is sick.

    Reply
  2. Matilda Johnson October 29, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    The same question I kept asking when we had the protest, what was the woman looking at? How did she become negligent? How come she is not speaking up? There are so many questions to ask and the same time, I feel the husband and his son should be killed. They committed murder and should be killed for what they did.

    Reply
  3. Victoria E October 29, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    This is the problem in our society, we will say because it’s family and we condole what we shouldn’t condole. A man will be molesting his daughter and we will keep quiet and say, it is not done. It shouldn’t go out there, it will stain the family hasn’t it stained the family? Hasn’t the damage occurred? We have to stop this nonsense and make sure we find the path to genuine freedom. If it’s an uncle, brother, father etc.. That person must face the wrath of the law. No evil should be kept and I pray that other girls going through this will be rescued and not in death because this is a very sad story.

    Reply
  4. Olumola Gift October 29, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    God bless you for this our soldier. You really don’t know what it is talking about this from a woman like you. I am so devastated that after so much awareness, culture all that we still have cases like this. These men are animals and they should be killed. They are beasts.

    Reply
  5. Waterman October 29, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    I think that these people should deal with the woman too. They must not leave her out, she must have been maltreating the poor girl and then, allowed her husband and son get into her like that. For several years, this girl was molested by these evil men. They should be tortured, really tortured.

    Reply
  6. Kunmbi Olayele- Martins October 29, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Finally, i am here and I am glad to be here. First of all, I saw the page on facebook and it endeared me to know more. Thank you for the gift of this website and I would say this issue is an important one. How can? a man and his son? both perverts! Mad people and what was the woman doing when all these were happening? where was she? How can she be so insensitive. We have been talking about rape we need to intensify the conversations surrounding incest. We need break the tradition of silence and making the culprits go Scott free. Indeed, there must be scapegoats.

    Reply
  7. oyinlola Daramola October 30, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    I haven’t been able to get over the story. It is sad. Very sad. We need scapegoats.

    Reply
  8. sheryl Lins October 30, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    It is not only in Nigeria, in Kenya, we have men like this and guess what? some women are the ones who allow their girls to be raped because they have collected money from the rapists. I don’t know how they do this but is annoying. We need people to be killed, we need them to be tortured and well dealt with so that people can understand that this is no joke at all. Thanks for speaking about this ma and I really admire your strengths, I admire your work and I also admire this platform. Everything on this platform speaks to the heart. I read the counselling article and I was touched to the brim. Thank you for this and well done!

    Reply
  9. Esther Aderanti October 30, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    My take home is; let us listen to our children and investigate their stories. A friend of mine told me about how her uncle raped her and up until now, no one believed her story. They felt she was being used by the devil. God will help us.

    Reply
  10. Onorode Nana October 30, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    We indeed need scapegoats. There are questions that we need buttress on, they are things we need to talk about. We should have deeper conversations about this issue. We must try to do something, implement laws and stand by them.

    Reply
  11. Olakunle Olajide October 30, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Indeed, we live in a world were anything goes. How dare the police even release them at first with such a case. I really hope we find scapegoats from all over and serve each one of them true justice. It is really disheartening.
    Rest on Ochanya.

    Reply
  12. Dom Dom October 31, 2018 at 7:19 am

    I guess everything that has been on my mind concerning this issue has been written here. When I first saw this story on the internet I was so disgusted that I could barely eat. Rape is terrible, an evil that must be stopped. Now that this has been so publicized, I hope they make a scapegoat of them and publicize the punishment as well. Let these wicked men know what’s coming for them

    Reply
  13. Femi Diipo October 31, 2018 at 7:24 am

    An innocent little girl was made to come into this world and allowed no happiness. It is unimaginable the horror and torment. Sometimes just thinking about it makes me to almost shed tears, the kinda fate no girl or woman deserves. This family needs to be made a scapegoat for the whole world to see, let’s deal with this wicked people in the language they understand so that the rest of them in the society will know their end is nigh

    Reply
  14. Eric Onuoha October 31, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    What a sad story! An innocent little girl abused by her own family. I hope the people involved are brought to justice – humanly or divinely. I am sad .

    Reply
  15. DSEED October 31, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    Yes, they have to be the scapegoat. The whole family must be responsible for it. They just waisted an innocent soul. Rest in peace girl. So saddened.

    Reply
  16. Danny Bliss November 2, 2018 at 9:05 am

    We have to put an end to this menace. We have to make sure that there is no room for anyone to escape. Indeed, we must find and deal with the scapegoats.

    Reply
  17. Yvonne Omalicha November 2, 2018 at 9:08 am

    I saw the march on the facebook platform and i was really impressed with what you said. There should be no plea for rape so far as we don’t allow pleas for murder. We have to deal with this issue and then that woman really has to be punished. For 5 years she never noticed anything for real? For 5 years? How can? We must also have deep rooted conversations around these issues…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of new posts by email.