More Nigerians are breaking their silence about rape and are exposing perpetrators.
It was 2018. A young female TV presenter, Emilia Samuel, was ready to tell the world her truth.
Bottled up and gnawing at her for years was a horrible experience that she struggled to put behind her, even as she tried to move on to other things - a career, marriage and children.
Exposing the perpetrator
Finally, she was ready to seek justice and face her rapist who had violently defiled her at the young age of 16, as a model who was new in the industry.
Her rapist, Theo Ukpaa, had become somewhat of a known figure in the media industry and was the Head of Programmes at Linda Ikeji TV. So, it was no surprise that her allegation made the headlines, leaving everyone shocked and outraged.
This was a strong allegation, one that Ukpaa’s employer, Linda Ikeji, was not taking lightly. When the alleged rapist - who was on his honeymoon when the allegation was made - returned home, it was to find that he had been stripped of his position and job.
Sending a powerful message
Many applauded Ikeji for taking a stand against rape. She was sending a powerful message. Rapists would no longer be tolerated in the society.
A year later, when Busola Dakolo made a similar allegation against COZA Senior Pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo, the reaction was no different – outrage!
But like all conversations about rape, there were almost just as many who were outraged as those who defended the rapists.
Now, two years after Samuel’s allegation and a year after Dakolo’s, no arrests have been made. The two alleged rapists continue to walk about free and the cases have all but been forgotten.
Ukpaa’s reaction to the recent rape and murder of 22-year-old Omozuwa sparked outrage all over again.
There he was condemning an act he had been accused of. He joined in the movement against rape on social media while rape allegations hung around his neck like an albatross. The man who was rumoured to have sexually assaulted other women besides Samuel was suddenly an agitator for rape victims. Many found that hard to believe.
Finding their voices and speaking up against rape
Omozuwa’s rape has helped many more survivors find their voices. There is no longer a hushed silence around the topic, and many are now exposing the perpetrators as they share their sad experiences.
On a list of celebrities recently accused of rape were the music stars, Peruzzi and D'banj. The former's old tweets suggesting rape apology dug up from eight years ago did little to help his case. The latter has been crucified for his methods of silencing his alleged victim.
Next was Nollywood producer, Victor Okpalan, accused of rape and various forms of sexual harassment by actresses.
Supporting and acting as an advocate for her colleagues, Kemi Lala Akindoju has spearheaded social media campaigns against rape.
Also on the forefront of the fight against rape is Esther Ijewiere, founder of the online platform, Women of Rubies. Her organization, Walk Against Rape, founded in 2010, has been the backbone of many a campaign against the despicable act.
Women At Risk Int. Foundation, S.T.E.R Initiative, Mirabel Centre, and Project Alert VAW are only some of the NGOs in Nigeria where rape victims can now seek help.
Nigerians, especially women, have indeed found their voices and are speaking out against rape. They are being heard, too. Movements, campaigns, protests on social media and in the public space are evidence of this fact. So are the trending hashtags, #Wearetired #Enoughisenough #JusticeforUwaila.