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The Loud Silence

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The ‘new black’ is a term mostly used in fashion circles to describe a new or recurrent trend. When someone used the term to describe rape in our society; I thought to myself how apt, given the incessant number of incidents that have occurred in recent times. Babies, toddlers, teenagers, fully grown women, boys and girls; nobody is speared.

The most bizarre case in recent times would have to be when Umuada Igbo, a women’s group campaigning for reproductive health and rights reportedly cried out over the spate of rape in Opi, Nsukka Local Government area of Enugu State. The victims were said to be women in their seventies… . According to the leader of this group, Mrs Kate Ezeofor, 13 women had been raped in recent times and the perpetuators are usually young men between 17 and 25 years of age… Diabolical is the word that comes to mind.

As to our ‘official’ attitude towards this scourge, no other case captures it like the now infamous ABSU gang rape. First, is the denial… “The rapist is not one of ours” or worse, it never took place at all. Then comes the blame. Okay, it turns out it did happen but the girl deserved it, worse; she was not a victim, and she was in collusion. If that becomes too ridiculous for words, then the final panacea.

It is amazing how everything can be reduced, dismissed or explained away as ‘politics’. Example: forget the 200 billion of unaccountable money sitting in his private vault, EFFC picking him up was just politically motivated by his political detractors. So of course, it is not a stretch of the imagination that a gang rape of an anonymous girl could be staged and broadcast on the internet to make some peripheral person look politically bad. No, no stretch at all.

I wonder if they have time to think about it or whether the conspiracy of silence is their default mode. I understand the victims maintaining a code of silence due to shame and fear, but what about the rest of us? Is it that in acknowledging that indeed rape has occurred, we feel that we take on the shame and blame? Or is it that we are all daily being raped in one way or the other that we have become completely inured?

According to one school of thought, it’s not so much that the number of incidents are increasing, but that we are only now beginning to talk more about it. Thank God. And God bless all those organizations and groups and celebrities who speak out. Because what we do not realise is that in our denial, we are accessories before, during and after the fact. Indeed, in that loud silence is our complicity.


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