Pastor Remi Akano, a veteran journalist, is the Chief Vision Steward, Kingdom Men Global Network, a ministry to men. He spoke to SIMPLE IKEM on the rising cases of rape and domestic violence in Nigeria. Excerpt:
TNE: What is your view on the rising cases of rape in the country?
It is disturbing. I am a father and grandfather. You can imagine each time another case is reported, I ask myself what could have happened if the victim was to be my daughter or granddaughter, cousin or sister in the church. I am worried about the society where such dehumanising actions occur. This is because women do the procreation. When they are traumatised, it affects their ability to play their role as wives, daughters and leaders. We have leaders who are females. You see that they do not like the men. They do not treat their male workers well. It may be due to their experiences. Incidence of rape is not an issue that should be on the back burner. I am very sad about it. As a ministry, Kingdom Men Global Network, we know our work in this area needs to be increased.
TNE: Some of the recent rape cases came with the killing of the victims. Could you explain why the attackers now kill the victims?
I do not want to be misunderstood. People may not like what I will say. Once men get into the state of mind that leads them to rape, they carry out the inhuman act. Having known the consequences of the action, the next thing is to try to destroy the evidence and the eye witness. When they find themselves in such a mess, the next thing that comes into their mind is murder. People see sex as a weapon. Some rape to dominate and to punish. In the campuses, cultists punish girls who reject their love advances by raping them. So, they attackers try to cover their crimes by removing the eye witness, which is the victim.
TNE: Would you say the trend has something to do with the rise in cult activities in the society?
Because there are gangs, one of the terrible things they do is to show supremacy by raping each other’s women. This could have an impact. When cult leaders want to show supremacy over the other, they rape their opponents’ women. Perhaps what we see today is the rise. We have to give it more attention. But, I have to stress that the rise in sexual violence is not just a Nigerian issue. It is a global issue.
TNE: The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, recently said the nation recorded 710 cases of rape from January till June. How reliable would you say this figure is?
Within the first two weeks of the lockdown due to Coronavirus, the rise in domestic violence was alarming. It was brought to our notice in a group I belong to as heads of men’s organisations. The IGP’s figure is indicative. We know that rape cases are not often reported for several reasons. From the actions of those that are raped, some organisations, the police stations, the commissioners and then to the IGP’s office, within this chain, many cases are swept under the carpet or quietly resolved at a corner. Many abandon the cases because the road to justice is slow. In some police stations, there are Domestic Violence Desks. But, they are not funded. You report a case of rape or domestic violence, there is no cash or budget to buy fuel or to call an UBER. They fold their hands in distress or ask the victim to bring money for transport. These are some of the reasons behind the figure the IGP brought out. It can only be indicative.
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TNE: What type of punishment would you advocate for rapists? Some people are suggesting incarceration, while others are for life imprison or even death. What do you think?
Having been in men’s ministry for long, I found out that we are backing a wrong tree we think about punishment. Incarceration, death sentence, a rapist deserves whatever he gets as punishment. Raping one is to violate one’s humanity and essence. I don’t care. A rapist deserves the kind of punishment he gets. That is on a personal level.
We have spent a lot of money making laws. Once there is an offence, there should be consequences. But, what if we can reduce bad behaviour than waiting for it to happen so that there will be punishment? We have left the development of men to the individual to handle. Unlike the female, the male-child does not get the attention they deserve. One of the most important things taken from men from the beginning is love. We teach them to fight, to retaliate. A boy who does not understand and value love cannot use sex for love. He cannot grow up to understand sex in the context of love. He sees sex as something to enjoy and if someone does not allow him to take it, he takes it by force. Some of these rapists in their 20s and 30s were not brought up rightly. That is why they use sex as weapon.
We have been applying punishment to many other crimes, but they have not stopped. When do we bring back the teaching of values so that the individual knows what is wrong and what is right? Those who have remorse and panic want to cover up. Someone recently did a video of himself saying that he had raped several people and had been waiting to be caught or arrested. While I am for the punishment of every bad behaviour, it is my view that we are spending a lot of energy on it. But, we are not thinking of how to reduce the trend. It is a waste of efforts. If we continue to clean the river downstream, we will discover that what contaminates it is upstream.
If a man feels that he does not need consent before sex, he will do it often. That is why people are talking of incarceration. Someone used a stick to rape his boss’s daughter. We need to think of these things fully. Why are the boys or men the way they are? How can we change their orientation? There is need to catch them young. There is the need to train and re-orientate them. But, who will teach them? What I have discovered in my several years in men’s ministry is that when you gather 100 boys and teach them. When they go into society, you lose 70 percent of them through the influence of people, relations, social media. As we attack it from the children level, we need to work on the adult. It is easier to build a new home than to restructure an old one.
TNE: Don’t you think that religious bodies have failed by not making rape part of their teachings as they emphasise more on adultery and fornication, leaving out other sexual vices now prevalent in the society?
Sex is alien in the church. It is hardly talked about in the church, not to talk of the details. Fornication is sex outside marriage. It includes adultery. Incidentally, there is rape in marriage. Fornication includes all illegal sex or unconventional sex. I agree that the church has to do a lot more about sex. But, it is not a pulpit topic. Issues like that are interactive, which you do not do from the pulpit. That is why we need to strengthen the youth, men and women ministries. But, we use them for more tangible things like during the church thanksgiving, cleaning the church. During the Men’s Day and Women’s Day, they are used to raise funds. In fact, these are the forums to talk about sex, talk and teach about it. Having said that, the real solution is discipleship, mentoring. But, sadly, our youths are on their own.
If you compare the type of distractions of the youths of the past and today, it is less than one percent. These distractions are the tools of the enemy. There are so many faiths. But, humanism has taken over the solution to crimes. Each time you mention sin, they brush it aside. The reality we face today is that there is the takeover of the running of society and leadership by humanism, normally defined as the philosophy or thought that man can be good by itself.
In everybody’s heart, there is a human side or the devil’s side. There is a clash of culture; the world view of God and worldview of Satan. Men and women are being killed. There is a ferocious campaign for one to be satanic and devilish. Until we factor it into what we do, people will always be advocating the killing of the attackers (rapists) or maim them. But, it cannot stop things from happening.
The reason we have this increase in rape, corruption, crimes, etc, is because majority of people have sold their souls to the devil. So, they cannot differentiate between what is right from what is wrong. People think only of themselves. That is why things are the way they are.
TNE: Why do you think the some state Houses of Assembly have not domesticated the Child Rights Act?
I don’t know why people do not want the domestication of the Child Rights Act. May be there is varieties in the definition of age of a child. In some parts of the country, children are given out in marriage. The astronomical figure of VVF victims should have opened people’s eyes. I don’t think why people should be against the Act, but for selfish interests. People still want to marry children. People want to have sex with girls before others do so. I don’t know how people can rationalise things better than the way God has arranged it, except for selfish reasons. It has to do with much ado about legislation. But, what are we going to do about these men? We need to reactivate the deeper search of the scriptures, both the Bible and Quoran. This will open people’s eyes.
Although some people prefer child marriage, it is not ordained by Islam and Christianity. Let us domesticate the Child’s Right Act. Let us punish offenders. But, we will be spending much building prisons and teaching locking people up.
TNE: What is your take on the rising wave of domestic violence and how it could be checked?
It is a terrible thing. It’s the attitude to the female. Men wrongly think the female is inferior to them. People will accept certain things from a man, but will not accept such from a female. Men look at their female bosses and feel that they have people like them at home. They see the female as second class rate. That is the fundamental. But, you have a lack of understanding of what marriage is. We see husbands beating their wives. The opposite is hardly discovered. We also see that women also rape men. We see people raping children. We also see sodomy. People also keep sex slaves. People’s understanding of marriage is faulty.