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The age of rape and government’s culpability

By Richard Dirim Odu
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There has been an exponential rise in the number of rape cases recorded daily in our society today. It is disturbing. More disturbing is that in some of the cases, parents and guardians of the victims are culprits. The situation points to the level at which the society has descended in its plunge to debasement.

Many factors have been advanced as causes of the steep rise in rape and child molestation, but every one of the factors appears to revolve around the utter negligence on the part of the people in politics and government, especially in matters concerning youth development and empowerment.

Let’s begin with examining the state of schools which are indeed the next level of socialisation for children after the family. Right after the civil war, in 1970, the government seized all schools, most of them owned by missions, and brought them under the schools management boards set up by government. This singular policy flagged off an undesired moral decadence as emphasis on moral and religious instructions in the schools declined under the government management.

In those days, when the missions managed the schools, the nation was hardly fed with news of rape or child molestation. Such unwholesome conducts were viewed with utmost despise and those who indulged in illicit sex were severely punished or reprimanded. It was, therefore, shameful to be associated with such behaviours. Most of the secondary schools had boarding houses. Civic education in which the pupils and students were taught the rudiments of civility and ethical behaviour was given equal importance, as the core career subjects. This is perhaps in obedience of the biblical injunction which instructs us to train the child in the way of God and when he grows he would not depart from it.

Added to the tacit abolition of moral instruction was that various secondary schools which were established exclusively for boys were turned into co-educational institutions. This is something that ought to be discouraged in view of the vulnerability of the students at the adolescent age. The private hostels around our higher institutions today are now designed to accommodate both sexes in the same blocks, giving room to free copulation by the students in this age of permissiveness. Indeed, many of them live as husband and wife, something that never happened years back. This is happening because the government has been unable to accommodate all the students in the main campuses.

Again, the government appears virtually insensitive to the soaring unemployment rate which had rendered many of the active youths idle. Did they not say that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop? The pictures our idle youths watch on television and their mobile phones are not helping matters and neither do such shows as the Big Brother Naija which the government has allowed to assault our media space. Such television shows that are virtually pornographic in nature are unwittingly teaching the youths that it is okay to live immoral lives and that, somehow, one could win big money by living in that manner.

However, the prevalence of the impure pictures would not have mattered much had the youths been fully inculcated with adequate sense of decency in their childhood to enable them to choose the correct things to watch.

The painful consequences of the sudden turnaround of the trends evoke the yearning for a return to our glorious yesterday. The schools should be returned to the missions for management in the states where they have not yet been handed over. Deliberate policies that would keep the youth busy must be implemented to dissuade their young minds from dirty thoughts. Government should, as a matter of urgency, stop owing parents salaries, pensions and other wages. This will relieve the pressure on the parents who triple their efforts in providing for the family economically while ignoring the vital moral upbringing of their children.

In addition to government intervention, there is the need for churches, schools and higher institutions to outlaw provocative dressing on the part of the girls, bearing in mind that such sights trigger off sexual fantasies in the males.

The nation should be proactive in this matter as it is no longer enough to rely on the laws which, in some cases, turn around to humiliate the victims more in the process of enforcement. All hands should be on deck to bring back the relative decency we enjoyed in the yesteryears.

Odu is an Owerri-based journalist and social commentator

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Richard Dirim Odu and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."