In the Name of Allah the Most Beneficial the Most Merciful
In the past few weeks, there has been outrage over rampart cases of rape in Nigeria. It is so serious and frequent that it has widely been called a pandemic. One cannot agree less. According to the Inspector General of Police, 717 cases of rape were reported between January and May 2020. It should be noted that many more cases go unreported for a number of reasons including lack of trust by many people in police and other government agencies. Nigeria Governors Forum threatened to declare a state of emergency. Well, it has always been a matter of emergency with randy rapists being on the prowl everywhere in the country.
More worrisome is the fact that in many instances the victims are children, babies, teenagers and students. It was reported in our last but one news bulletin that the Jigawa State Police Command arrested 11 men for raping a 12-year-old girl in the state .A University of Benin student was raped to death in a Church in Benin. Within 72 hours, another young student, Baraka Bello, was also raped to death in Oyo State. Last year rape of a 4 year old girl in Ogba, Lagos was reported. Earlier, a 70 year old man raped a 3 year old girl in Kano. This is not an isolated case as about the same time police reported no less than 54 cases of child rape in Kano State alone. There was also the case of a 6-month old baby who suffered severe deformity after being raped by a 40 year old man aided by his wife in the process purportedly as a cure for the couple’s childlessness.
The level of perversity must be very deep in an environment where babies suffer this kind and level of callousness and no concrete action is taken to forestall future occurrence. For those children raped to death, what will be the answer of our society on the Day of Judgment when it will be asked, “For what sin was it (the female child) murdered?” as the Quran puts it (Quran81:9).For all cases, what will be our response when it is asked, what did you do to stop the evil tide of rape? A good start is to ruminate on what has been paraded as the causes of rape, and from there chart the way forward.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
There have been several reasons adduced for prevalence of rape. A number of the causes popularly given by people for rape in Nigeria including in polls are: indecent dressing, consumption of alcohol, drug abuse, ineffective enforcement agents etc
In discussing the causes, it is pertinent to ask, do we have a society or system that has tendency to mass produce rapists? What kind ideology pervades this kind of society? In much of human history there is a segment of people who promote massive sexual permissiveness. In the modern world many such people could be found among the so called liberals of secularist persuasion whose notions of liberty result into commodification of human body especially of women: the women body in particular is seen as an article of conspicuous consumption with naked and half-naked imageries being widely disseminated for modeling, commercials, adverts and all sort of ostentatious displays.
‘Democratization’ of nudity on electronic media especially TV and social media is thus an important factor in creating all sorts of sexual perverts including rapists. “Sex sells” is a popular notion for many in the entertainment industry and social media. It was recently revealed that the image-sharing app, Instagram, is wired with an algorithm that is programmed to give preference to sexually suggestive images. When a person is thoroughly exposed to scenes of rape, sexual activities, sex-filled innuendos and sex-saturated entertainment on such platforms, he or she is subjected to some kind of sublimal seduction and classical conditioning that could make him see sex outside marriage as a badge of honour or at least have a care free attitude to it.
In many cases, such a person especially a child stands a high a chance of growing into a sexual pervert of different kinds including as rapist. He may grow to be a corporate rapist such as bank managers who lure or force young girls into sex for jobs, a university lecturer who sees female students as ‘teaching allowance’ and by force or inducement make young ladies victims of his libido, a film producer who doles out roles in exchange for sex and sometimes shamelessly demonstrates wayward sexual activities on screen in film scenes. This category of rapists is more sophisticated and subtle and is in majority.
The other kind of rapists, the subhuman brutes who use raw, physical violence and grab news headline recently, is another category. The two categories are both birds of the same feather, two sides of the same coin. Therefore, an ideology of sexual permissiveness which permits an explosion of sexual images is actually an ideology of rape, no matter the quantum of finesse some put to it in the name of modernity and liberalism. It is what I call sexual liberalism. When this becomes something of a state ideology and is indirectly or directly permitted and/or promoted by state laws and policies, the result is sexual disasters such as geometric spike in cases of rape. Take a look at countries where sexual liberalism reign supreme: they top the list of countries with the highest rape incidence.
Even when a society implements the hudud or Islamic punitive measures for sexual offences but is unable or fails to shield itself from sexual liberalism or proliferation of sexual images or permissiveness, such a society also stands the risk of being inflicted with sexual disasters like rape pandemic. Not isolated cases of rape but rape pandemic.
It may be fashionable in some religious circles to simply blame indecent dressing for rape. In fact, according to a recent poll, 47% of Nigerians say indecent dressing is a major cause of rape. While this is understandable, it would be simplistic without putting indecent dressing in context and linking it a proper context such as the overall ideology of sexual liberalism.
Indecent dressing is normally a product of sexual liberalism. A person who dresses indecently or flouts his or her nudity as a product of sexual liberalism would easily fire the libido of other persons who are also certified products of or are simply under the influence of, sexual liberalism. Understanding this point in broader sense partly helps to explain why a rapist could rape a well-dressed person or a child full of innocence.
While sexual liberalism is not the only cause of rape, it is the fundamental cause of much of the widespread sexual perversion or rape pandemic. It may also contribute to other causes. The fetish man who rapes with the intension of becoming rich or to have a child may be a sexual pervert already who is a product of a society in which sexual liberalism is prevalent. In the case of a person who rapes to become rich, poverty and superstition are critical factors. Poverty and superstitious belief may lead some people to commit rape. Researchers have shown that poverty is connected to both the perpetration of acts of sexual violence as well as the risk of being a victim of it. However, it is more likely for a sexual pervert who is a product of sexual liberalism to take that route.
When sexual liberalism in one form or the other combines with widespread poverty, superstitious belief, corruption, prevalence of drug abuse, alcohol consumption, ill-equipped law enforcement officers, poor evidence system, slow judicial system where cases take up to 10 years to decide, inadequate penal or punitive system etc, a fertile ground is prepared for rape pandemic and other forms of sexual violence. Is it a wonder then that results of a survey conducted and published by NOIPolls showed that up to one in every three girls living in Nigeria could have experienced at least one form of sexual assault by the time they attain the age of 25?
THE WAY FORWARD
An effective solution is to strike at the root of the problem. In other words, strike at the root and root out the fundamental cause. A holistic Islamic approach is to strike at sexual liberalism and the system that sustains it as an ideology. No solution is complete without understanding the sociology of the environment where rape takes place and the psychology of the rapist.
This is why in the preceding section; attempt is made to discuss sexual liberalism (which is all the same whether in its pre-modern or modern form, though it is more sophisticated in the modern sense). In dealing with the situation, we need to take heed of the quranic injunction: do not approach zina (illicit sex)-Quran 17:31. The approach is not to approach it. In other words do not engage in activities that could make you commit zina whether consensual or non-consensual zina such as rape. Sexual liberalism creates avenues “to approach zina”.
A society that wants to curb rape pandemic should put in place mechanisms to curb sexual permissiveness such as by way of spread of sexual images on line and offline. Qur’an underscores the fact that caretakers of home and society may engage in actions that could lure or force people particularly girls to zina: “You shall not force your girls to commit prostitution, seeking the materials of this world” (Quran 24:33).This is all preventive approach. A society that wishes to heed that divine admonition will cultivate in people the culture of self- discipline including by way of extensive education and orientation for example on divinely prescribed norms on social relations including ethics of man-woman relations.
Sexual liberalism has blackmailed many Muslim societies into believing that many of these rules of engagement are archaic. Having seen the consequences of this,the duty of everyone in the Ummah living in a society in which sexual liberalism is prevalent is to work towards riding it of this pandemic. Creating a home where members are raised to protect themselves from anything that can condition their minds to zina is step in that direction. For children, this would mean being on watch on the type of stuff they access online and the kind of company they keep including things and persons of suspicious sexual character. They would also be taught not to be mobile pornographies in terms of the clothing they put on and to have self-restraint in dealing with (possible) sources of seduction (as per Quran 5:5, Quran 24:31, Quran 24:30).
This is not only preventive but also precautionary. The punitive aspect relates to the punishment prescribed by Sharia for breaching the divinely prescribed boundaries of sexual civility. Such measures have a number of utilities including serving as deterrence to would- be offenders. When the above measures (preventive, precautionary and punitive measures) are put in place, other measures put in place to address other causes such as poverty, poor attitude of law enforcement agents, corruption etc will help in shielding the society from rape pandemic.
If this is not done, tears shed by politicians over the issue of rape in response to public outrage would go for what they really are: crocodile tears. Crocodile tears-not even an ocean thereof-can put out the wild fire of rape recklessly kindled by explosive sexual permissiveness to which the society is endlessly bombarded. Similarly if the public outrage is not directed and converted to short, medium and long terms actions and educational programmes meant to achieve the above measures, such outrage will amount to empty noise.
Dr Tajudeen Thani writes from Kampala,Uganda