Rape and Women’s Sexual Health in Nigeria: The Stark Realities of Being Female in a Patriarchal World
Historically, women have always been subjugated and oppressed by men in most cultures in Nigeria. This situation is due to the inequality in gender relations between men and women. Rape has always been with mankind throughout the world. However, in recent times, the incidence of rape has increased in Nigeria. The hegemonic patriarchal values and practices make it difficult for women who are raped to obtain justice. Perpetrators often go unpunished even if the victims have the courage to report the incident. The court acquits most of the rape offenders on account of the lack of evidence or because the victim has a ‘questionable’ character. Owing to this, rape victims suffer in silence due to the stigma and humiliation attached to the public acknowledgement of rape. This article examines how patriarchy interlocks with gender relations and inequality to deny justice to rape victims. The paper looks at the issues of gender and rape and their implications for the health of the victims. Feminist theory is used to explain rape, the societal reaction to it and the health outcomes for the victims. The paper concludes that many health problems suffered by women in Nigeria are as a result of rape. Public health practitioners should devise mechanisms of eliciting rape information from victims so as to effectively manage their health problems. The paper recommends the need for more practical ways of implementing laws on violence against women so that victims can obtain justice. Also, the role of women lawyers and other women’s organizations should be reassessed.