The body of a 14-year-old girl lies dead because a group of boys thought it was their right to take what she refused to willingly give them from her by force.
On Monday, neighbours noticed an unknown number of young men scaling the fence that encompassed the home of Obiamaka Ngozichukwu Orakwe and her family in Abule-Ado, Lagos, in a frantic getaway. Upon her mother’s urgent return to the scene sometime later, it was discovered that they had collectively raped her, and left her gagged and near-death in a pool of her blood. Why?
Apparently, the culprits had made unwanted advances towards Obiamaka at different times, whenever she passed them at their hangout in the neighbourhood. She had told them off repeatedly and even informed her mother about “those boys” troubling her. From the heinous turn of events, the young men felt ‘slighted’ and probably decided to ‘teach her a lesson’.
They watched the daily movements of her and her family members, and on a day they were certain the coast was clear (her parents were at work, and her siblings were away visiting relatives), they invaded the Orakwes’ home and violently took Obiamaka’s life and destroyed a significant part of the family.
There’s more than one tragedy here;
- The repeated unwanted, unattractive, uncouth advances, and the idea that they either; a) HAD to be indulged, or b) met with negative consequences for the victim. AKA the general mindset of the culprits.
- The target of this unpleasantness – Obiamaka, a young girl – and the extraordinarily tragic outcome.
- The gross violation of both life and property on a whim, and the nerve behind it.
- The alarming frequency of stories of rape and death of girls and women.
- The vile image of society that remains projected as long as these acts continue to thrive with a disturbing ‘normalcy’, in addition to a subsequent lack of confidence in the system.
- The prevalence of an inherent sense of male entitlement in society – which might be ‘okay’ in another dystopic existence where it didn’t cause severe harm to everyone else that isn’t the perpetrators, or on another planet – and the known fact that it is not magically constructed from thin air.
Obiamaka was in her third year in junior secondary school. And probably every other day on her way to and from school, or whilst running errands, she had to deal with constant harassment from a group of useless, crude, and miseducated no-do-gooders.
An attempt at an emotionally charged lecture about the dangers of ingrained misogyny, patriarchy, sexism, and such ills which womenfolk and disadvantaged persons continue to suffer socially is not the purpose here. Not that we would ever tire of giving such lectures every time and everywhere necessary for our well-being, safety, health, and future.
The attempt here is to understand what parents, wards, religious and academic educators believe they are doing when they ‘raise’ their children to fit into one socially constructed role or the other, while perhaps forgetting or misunderstanding the implications on matters of sexual and gender equality, social justice, and psychosocial welfare.
What do we think we are doing when we let our sons get away with destructive microaggressive and intimidating behaviour towards their peers, and tell our daughters to be “submissive” from the early stages of their lives? What is it we hope to be the outcome in a world where we urge womenfolk to comply, shut up, or face the consequences, as far as their male counterparts are concerned? What exactly is the end game in a society where “boys will be boys”, especially since that means that girls have to be at the receiving end of their ‘natural inclinations’?
But these inclinations are not natural, are they? Sure, humans of every sex and gender are naturally capable of exhibiting malicious attitudes and behaviours, but who’s really allowing it to still be so? Are we giving conscientious thought to how we are truly raising our children?
If growing up our sons believe that they have to be ‘men’ instead of human, or any girl who would dare refuse their advances is not ‘trained’ and needs to be taught an abusive or violent lesson, and society condones all of this for some reason, then we need to be ready and fully aware that all our daughters, wives, sisters, cousins, mothers, nieces, aunties, friends, and inlaws can be Obiamaka Orakwe.
It is not enough to ‘allow’ these crimes to happen and then be satisfied with the notion of possible apprehensions and prosecutions. In fact, it is unacceptable.
Certainly, there may be times that such tragedies are completely out of our control, but all of us are at risk of grieving someone we love or care about because we would not do our fundamental part in rectifying this existential mental cancer that is miseducation, eating away at our humanity.