It could be rape, sex trafficking, or any other coercive encounter directed at a person’s sexuality with or without penetration. Sexual violence, among all vices, is at its peak in the 21st century. As a form of gender-based violence, it’s a cultural phenomenon that also transcends time and space within the spheres of human existence. Cases of this nature have long been a shameful and brutal part of the human experience as far as history is concerned — from ancient Greece to the present age. It has long been a whirlwind threatening the soil of humanity. Beyond victims whose cases never make it to the corridors of justice, Nigeria had recorded 2,279 cases of rape and indecent assault and 1,164 “unnatural offenses” in 2017 alone. Yet, the rate at which this vice is spreading and affecting the global world is not quantum.

Both males and females; young and old have fallen victim to sexual violence. Yet, the rate at which the girl-child and women are being violated remains a thing of concern. The constant feelings of insecurity and the psychological trauma from previous experiences have now created a society that dictates to female children where to go, at around what time to engage with the public, how to dress, and even whom to invite to their homes. This same female child becomes prime target when security crisis hits, with the rape of some of the female students abducted by the Boko Haram terrorist group in Dapchi and Chibok being a typical Nigerian example. One in seven women is said to be a victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. And about 91 percent of sexual assault victims are said to be female. Not even homestead and social structure are safe for a gender-based interpersonal relationship as the betrayal of intimacy keeps rising on a daily. In a world where insanity is presented as sane, men already robbed of integrity inflict this violence on the female child.

A further glance into any insightful commentary on sexual violence will reveal the trauma of assault in conflict. Conflict-related sexual acts are quite varied from the earlier mentioned form of violence. It’s rather a gender-based security challenge that emerges during armed conflicts. When sexual violence is employed during conflict situations, it is a tool to further terrorize the victim of war. It’s a matter of “where two elephant fight, the ground suffers.” Perpetrators employ this tactic to dehumanise the enemy, create rancor, and ensure the attacked groups are vulnerable to other forms of physical attack.

Sexual violence serves different purposes in conflict. It could be used as a strategy in a war to gain victory. The history of Moremi Ajasoro, a Yoruba princess in African mythology, is a typical example of how conflict-related rape dates back to history. Moreover, sexual violence has also been an incentive in war, a kind of human trafficking whereby women and girls are being given in exchange as wages of battle. Sexual violence as a tool in conflict can be used for genocide — radical destruction of a political or cultural group. The case of Dapichi school girls kidnapping on February 18, 2018, by Book Haram is explicit of Nigeria’s own realities in sexual violence.,

There are looming consequences of sexual violence to both individuals and the community at large. On the Individual, it brings shame, guilt, and condemnation which may eventually lead to survivor commit of suicide. There is also long-term damage to stability and peace for post-conflict recovery, leading to imperialism or neocolonialism, displacement of people, lack of reconciliation, among other consequences.

In recent times in Nigeria, evidence of the gross violation of human rights has been rampant and this calls for government attention. Especially as sexual violence in conflict remains an issue of insecurity, there is a need for measures that will help in the prevention and eradication of insecurity in the country. Tackling sexual violence in conflict requires that conflict itself is prevented. Peacekeeping should be a major goal of any government in establishing security in this sense towards avoiding sexual violence. Attention should be given to the masses and a medico-legal mechanism should be in place for prompt response, should rape ensue during robberies and interethnic tension.

During one attack in Edo, Nigeria, where a young student identified as Vera Omozuwa took to a community church to study was and raped to death, the victim’s family said police authorities requested money before they would investigate the deceased’s case. Beyond educating females on defending themselves in such situations, preventing sexual violence of this sought from reoccurring requires not just legislative backing but swift police action to deter subsequent perpetrators from meting out such dehumanising acts.

Stephen Ojekale Wuyioreofe