Friday, 7 August 2015

RAPE: AN INNOCENT'S BURDEN




I walked into the ward with a smile on my lips and in good spirits. It was a Monday morning. A time to get acquainted with the patients who had been admitted over the weekend. My colleague had covered the weekend call while I...never mind.

As we started the rounds, I noticed him in cot 3, a male child of about a year or less. He was busily scratching himself with his chubby little fingers and making frustrating sounds at the same time. I guess he wasn't doing a very effective job of it. On the chair by the bed sat a young girl whom I guessed was his elder sister. She was looking about the ward, quite nonchalant about the child she was minding. As they were the next to be seen, I waited till we approached their bedside.
As we got close, an unrefreshing smell greeted our nostrils.
"Has this child being given a bath today?" The senior doctor in the team asked.
"No sir" the young lady answered.
The child's condition which had necessitated a blood transfusion over the weekend, his apparent lack of good hygiene, his caregiver's lack of concern, along with the child's ineffective attempts at scratching his itchy body really made the doctor unhappy.
"Where is the child's mother?" He asked.
"He is my son" she responded.
I looked at her. Really looked. 
She was a slim, dark skinned young lady. Almost a child herself.
Quietly, he asked, "Where is his father?".
Earlier, an elderly man had approached us just as the rounds started. He hovered around the child and was always ready to provide anything for him once it was requested.
The young lady turned away.
Her name is Oghenetamo. An 18year old young lady with dreams of being a nurse someday, somewhere, in the future. At a young age, unprepared, she is saddled with the responsibility of a male child who turned a year old two weeks before. Her son is a reminder of a nightmare best forgotten. An evidence of her virginal defilement. He is nevertheless a bundle of joy and a blessing indeed.
Two years ago, on a Friday evening, she was sent by her mother to collect some money from her aunt who lived in a nearby village. As she was returning, it was near dark. On her path were two young men who seemed engaged in conversation. As she greeted them and walked past, she was grabbed from behind. They dragged her deeper into the bushes while she struggled. One after the other, they forcefully had sex with her. She had screamed but to no avail. No one had heard, no one had come to her rescue.

Rape!!! A cankerworm indeed.
It is slowly but steadily eating it's way into the very fabric of our society. This menace is a problem that touches everyone as locally, nationally and internationally every society worldwide is affected to varying degrees.
Rape simply put is the sexual penetration of an individual without consent. Penetration may be oral, anal or vaginal and the affected individual may be of an age where consent cannot be given or the consent given is not valid due to existing health challenges. It is a form of sexual violence and is used interchangeably with sexual assault though they are slightly different as defined by each jurisdiction.
Rape is a public health issue and a violation of the human rights of an individual. As a crime, it is grossly underreported everywhere.
Anyone whether male or female can be raped though the victims of this heinous crime are usually women and young children. When men are the victims, they usually sustain more injuries and are attacked by more than one person. It can also occur among members of the same sex but this is seen more in such  settings as single sex schools and  prisons. 
Rape is a very traumatic experience and affects every aspect of an individual's life. Emotionally, physically, psychologically and mentally - the effects are far reaching.The experience leaves a lot of damage in it's wake and the worst are the psychological scars which though hidden from sight are quite potent.
Individuals with a higher risk of being raped are unattended AND attended children, prostitutes and people with mental or physical limitations.
There are different scenarios to the circumstances of rape. The victim may have been raped once or twice, by one or more persons, by a friend or relative, by a stranger. No matter the circumstances, the experience is no less traumatizing.
Female victims are more likely to be raped by people they are familiar with than by total strangers. These include: relatives, neighbours, boyfriends, friends, dates, co- workers amongst others.
Young ladies should beware of their drinks in parties and peer social gatherings as the date rape drug - Rophynol may be used by young men to incapacitate the unwitting ones.

Reasons Affected Persons Keep Silent:
Fear
Shame
Threats
Stigma
Confusion
Guilt
Children may not be able to express themselves
The victim may blame herself for being raped

Effects Of Rape:
Panic attacks
Withdrawal
Promiscuity
Dislike of sex
Unwanted pregnancies
Sexually transmitted infections
Drug and alcohol abuse
Post traumatic stress disorder
Revictimization
Suicide among others.

Rape is considered worse in children as it rips away their innocence and leaves behind long term psychological consequences that if not handled properly haunts them into adulthood.
A lot of times, the victims of rape are hushed by their family members in order to avoid being stigmatised. This is quite unfair as in a bid to save their image the victim is left with a psychological burden which may lead to an unhealthy remodelling of the individual.
...........Don't go away dearie...there's more............

In our next article, we shall read on the medical management of rape, possible avenues of help and more on the topic.

Do Stay Safe And Live Clean With Dr Ib.
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