Raping young girls for rituals

By Casmir Igbokwe

Published: Sunday, 27 Jan 2008
The African Nations Cup fever is still on in Ghana. One of the revelations of the tournament is Anjorin Moucharaf. The man is not a player. But, as a core African and the President of the Benin Football Federation, Moucharaf believes in the efficacy of juju in African football. He told a THISDAY reporter shortly before the commencement of the competition that he knew (thanks to voodoo) that his team would not lose to Mali in the opening game. As he reportedly put it, “We might not win any other game in the group, but if there is one outcome I am very sure of, it is our match with Mali – we will win.” Unfortunately, Mali beat Benin 1-0 in their first group game.

Absolute belief and trust in charms and superstitions have continued to wreak havoc on our society. Ordinarily, people are free to believe anything that suits their fancy. But it becomes worrisome when that belief verges on lunacy, when it instigates the defiling of a girl-child for sinister motives.

This is what is happening in different parts of the developing world today. In China, a former lawmaker and millionaire businessman visited a fortune-teller a few years ago. The fortune-teller told him that having sex with virgins would enhance his health. Pronto, Wu Tianxi resolved to have sex with 100 virgins. He had only raped just over 20 young girls when nemesis caught up with him. Early this month, a court in Nanyang city convicted him and sentenced him to death for this heinous crime. He was also fined 500, 000 Yuan (£35, 000; N8.7m.)

In the same China, two teachers were sentenced to death last December for forcing about 23 young girls into prostitution. Zhao Qingmei and her husband, Chi Yao, allegedly took these girls (between 11 and 17 years) to local hostels and told them to either have sex or have their families poisoned. About 12 other people who colluded with this couple received jail sentences.

In Africa, raping under-age girls is also common. In Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and many other war-torn countries, many girls fall victim. In 2006, an 11-year-old girl, Janjay, died after being raped in Liberia. Such rapists as Stephen Dollo and Arthur Blackie (a pastor) had reportedly been convicted of raping five-year-old and eight-year-old girls respectively in Liberia.

The question is: why will a sane man defile a child? The reasons are as different as the individuals who engage in it. Some believe raping a child brings good luck. Some others believe it will cure them of HIV/AIDS. This erroneous belief seems to have gained currency in South Africa. In an article in an online journal, Medscape, Eileen Meier noted that in 2001, six men between the ages of 24 and 66 raped a nine-month-old baby who was left unattended by her teenage mother in South Africa. In 2002, Meier added, four men gang-raped an eight-month-old baby. Also, a four-year-old girl reportedly died after being raped by her father.

These evil acts are gradually creeping into Nigeria. Earlier this month, media reports indicated that young girls had become endangered species in Kano and some other parts of the North. Reason? HIV-positive men now mark them out for rape, believing that it would cure them of their disease. The most vulnerable are said to be girls who hawk in the streets. There were instances where men as old as 70 raped girls as young as three.

This points to the fact that ours is still a pre-scientific society. While civilised societies are busy plotting how to relocate to the moon or build cars that will fly over a traffic jam, we are busy nurturing fetish and superstitious beliefs. While some of the world’s richest men such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett engage in a transparent way of creating wealth, some of our people believe they can only make money by raping a virgin.

For parents and victims of child-rape, the stigma and trauma that come with that are immeasurable. Some of the victims have contracted HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In Suleja, Niger State, for instance, some girls between the ages of six and 12 have reportedly been diagnosed with HIV. Men old enough to be their grand fathers did the abominable act. Shameful!

Parents must endeavour to give more protection to their children. Those who send their female children to hawk in the streets should know that danger is lurking. Those who send them to school unaccompanied should remember that some HIV-positive young men and ritualists are on the prowl.

Happily, there are laws to take care of this type of people. For instance, Section 218 of the Criminal Code Act stipulates that any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 13 is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without caning. Whoever attempts to have carnal knowledge of such a girl is liable to imprisonment for 14 years, with or without caning. Section 221 (1) says any person who has or attempts to have unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl being of or above 13 years and under 16 years of age is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for two years, with or without caning. The same Section 221 (2) prescribes the same punishment for anyone who has or attempts to have unlawful carnal knowledge of an imbecile.

Unfortunately, these laws have not been strictly enforced partly because of the legal hurdle of proving rape cases. Again, victims are often subjected to embarrassing questions relating to their sexual history from counsel for the accused persons.

Nevertheless, our laws must be made to work. Last Friday, THE PUNCH reported the arraignment of a 55-year-old man at Ikeja Magistrate Court in Lagos for impregnating his 13-year-old housemaid. Mr James Obasi reportedly brought the girl (name withheld) to Lagos from the East in 2001 when his wife had a set of twins. In a confessional statement he allegedly made to the Police, Obasi claimed to have started making love to the girl in October 2007. He was said to have admitted impregnating the girl, but said he was not the one who deflowered her. He also expressed his readiness to marry the girl and take care of her. This case has been adjourned till February 11.

It will be good if women and other rights organisations follow this case and similar cases to their logical conclusion. It will equally be good if our people could learn some lessons from the failure of Benin Republic’s voodoo to secure victory for her in her opening game with Mali. And as the Super Eagles prepare to tackle the Squirrels of Benin Republic in their last group match on Tuesday, neither Moucharaf nor his native doctors can determine the outcome of the match. The failure of Benin voodoo equals the delusion that raping young virgins could give one money or cure one of HIV.


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Daniela Says:

    Thank you Casmir Igbokwe for this powerful article!
    Everyone should read the real tragedies of the world instead of read about famous people Lady Gagas and what so ever.
    This is the real world! The sad real world … Have you ever read about Nanking massacre during the WWII? The massacre it is known as The Rape of Nanking, first time I read about Nanking I cried in fury!


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