Monday, 14 September 2015

RAPE 11: THE WAY FORWARD




Good day my lovelies. It has indeed been too long. Rape 11 is finally with us and I apologise for the protracted hot seat session ( On bent knees before my mirror). Unfortunately I had a most unusual experience. Just after I published the article, Rape 1, there was a cosmic shift. I mean... how else do I explain publishing an article on rape and then having a number of rape victims coming in once or twice a week for medical reports? Honestly I felt I had jinxed something thus... I decided to await the passage of one week free of rape cases to release Rape 11.
The victims were females ranging between the ages of 3 to 15 years. Each came with her own peculiar story...
These are a few: The three year old was fingered by a neighbour who is currently in police custody.
The thirteen year old was assaulted by the young man employed by her mother to drop her off at school in the mornings. In fact, he had colluded with another man who performed the act while he held her down.
"What is wrong with our world? Why condescend to children when they must be a number of consenting adult females???" I shudder.
The fifteen year old's case was quite interesting. She was alleged to have been raped the prior week and was on her menses the day she came in for a medical report. A pregnancy test was requested as routine and revealed she was pregnant. On further probing, it was interesting to learn she had been sexually assaulted about a month or more prior to her visit, her family knew she had been impregnated and had attempted to abort the fetus the week before. Of course, they feigned ignorance at first. Oh well!!!.
Yes!!! Least I forget. A dear friend of mine called after the last article on rape was released to express a few dissatisfactions. For one, the obvious downplay of "rape" where the male child is concerned and also the possible link between sexual assault in childhood and homosexuality.
Without prejudice, male sexual assault was downplayed in the article because for one, rape is usually defined by penetration and many constitutions that of Nigeria inclusive don't recognise assault of a male child as rape rather it is dealt with as defilement which though labeled differently has no less a stipulated punishment of about seven (7) years imprisonment. My learned friends please educate me if I'm in the wrong.
Though male defilement seems to be regarded as a matter of unserious proportions in the society, it is a reality and no less jarring to recognise that a lot of young men had their sexual debut at the hands of an older child or an adult before the age of legal maturity.
The perpetrators are usually familiar people such as female domestic helps, friends of parents and elder siblings, neighbours among others. This is usually not reported as the males may have been assumed to enjoy the act while the psychological implications are let to fester unchecked. When indeed there are reported, it's not handled with the same gravity as the assault of a female child and this is where I believe we get it wrong.
Today we have a lot of "perverts" in the society and we keep wondering if it's the wrath of the gods. In the last article we mentioned the psychological consequences of rape. When a male or female child is molested by an adult of the same sex and such issues are not adequately dealt with, we release into the society a new crop of potential paedophiles, homosexuals, lesbians and rapists among other societal vices. In the end, we have a breed of young people with little sexual decorum.
A close relationship between parents/care givers and their wards is encouraged as a lot of times these children may not verbally convey the information but a change is noticed either behaviourally or academically. We should also make a concerted effort to probe any changes we notice as an Igbo adage says "Awo adighi agba oso ehihie n'efu" which means "A toad does not jump in the afternoon for nothing"
Whether legal redress is sought or not, a visit to a hospital after the rape act is of the essence. It is pertinent to remind us that your medical information is CONFIDENTIAL therefore the fear of being stigmatised should not be an impeding factor.

The medical management of a rape victim entails:
History taking and documentation of the events of the assault
Physical examination to note any injuries and other discrete information
Collection of evidence for forensic investigation
Collection of specimen for required investigations
Evaluation for and prevention of:
Pregnancy
HIV/AIDS
Other STIs
Psychological support/ Counseling
Follow up

Despite the above listed protocol for management, victims are adequately informed on what is to be done and services offered to enable them make an informed decision as every woman has a right to optimum reproductive health.
To prevent an unplanned pregnancy,emergency contraceptives are given.
Retroviral screening is done and antiretrovirals are also prescribed on a prophylactic basis.
In the events of STIs, appropriate antibiotics are prescribed.
If legal intervention is sought, a medical report is given.

Fortunately, in the course of putting this article together, I came in contact with TAMAR SARC ( Tamar- a name from the bible, Sarc- sexual assault referral centre).
TAMAR SARC is a nongovernmental and nonprofit organisation which specialises in the management of sexually assaulted victims. It is a unit managed by Women's Aid Collective (WACOL) in collaboration with Enugu state government ( Ministries of health, justice, gender affairs and social development). They work with a team of doctors and psychologists for the medical management of victims and in conjunction with a team of lawyers and the Nigerian police force for the prosecution of rape cases. These professionals provide non discriminatory, confidential and good quality medical, counselling and other support services to victims.
I had a very illuminating discussion with one of the psychologists at the centre (off the record though) and her perspective on the subject matter along with the psychological challenges encountered by the victims helped produce this article. Least I forget, their services are FREE which means they are offered at no cost to the victims.
TAMAR SARC details:
Address - Family support program centre, opposite former IMT and near GRA police station
Mobile number: 09091333000, 09092777000.
So my dearies, as I conclude this article, I cannot overemphasise the importance of the medical evaluation of rape victims as it mitigates the medical and psychological consequences suffered by the victims.
Thanks for reading.
Do Stay Safe And Live Clean With Dr Ib.
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