I remember it like it was yesterday. I know that violets are blue and roses are red. I also know that he said his love was true, but I was covered in ‘Red’. What I felt? I don’t even know. Was it shame, pain, anger, vulnerability, emptiness, violation, or the eye opening truth that I would not be the same happy carefree girl Iused to be which hit me like a moving train? Maybe! But I know that crawling out of my skin was what I wanted to do. How did we get here? Well, it’s the same cliche love story. What happens after this? According to statics from reliable sources, 50–60% of rape victims don’t report to authorities. For me, I was determined that it won’t end in the cliche way. I was going to act. What did I have to lose? I had nothing left, or at least that’s how I felt.
Days after the experience, I felt a hermit, basking in obscurity. My room was my haven, away from the rest of the world. After picking and arranging a million pieces of me , I decided to get help. I got a lawyer. I was going to run this M*ther*ucker to the ground. Ruin his life or so I thought. I had to get a female lawyer, someone I could comfortably express my mind to.
I found one. As I stated my experience, I could sense a mixture of judgement and pity.
She was a nice person though, and took her time to enlighten me on the legal perspective of rape. She said that “Rape, according to the criminal code of Nigeria and the criminal law of Lagos State, 2011, means that a man has had unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or a girl, unlawful meaning that they are not married and carnal knowledge meaning that there was a penetration, even if slight, of the vagina, and no where else. Also, there had to be lack of consent,or consent through fraud, force, threat, intimidation, deceit, or impersonation.
I giggled as I realized that a man couldn’t, at least in a legal parlance, be raped. I wasn’t doing much giggling anymore when I realized that married women also couldn’t be raped because there can’t be unlawful carnal knowledge. I asked her about it and she stated that in the US, the Department Of Justice has defined Rape as: ‘penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. The definition uses the word ‘victim’ and not ‘woman or girl’. This covers both genders. I sighed, developed countries! As for marital rape, Nigeria was still behind, again! Countries such as Australia, USA and even African countries like Zimbabwe and Ghana have criminalized marrital rape. Well, I felt safe, with something that looked like a smile, I told her that I wasn’t married to him.
She asked me if I had any evidence? I was lost. Which kind of evidence? I know he raped me. Would I lie? I was slowly getting emotional and angry, my pulse increasing.
She smiled and told me that it is one thing to get raped and it is another thing to prove it. Speaking with the eloquence that lawyers usually show, she said ‘Nigerian courts operate an adversarial system so there is a duty on who ever asserts a crime to prove it beyond reasonable doubt. The fact that there was an intention by the alleged rapist to rape the victim, and penetration must be proven.
While all the other factors might not be as onerous to prove, proving penetration could be as rape victims might not visit a doctor or a Sexual Assault Referral Centre(this has been made available in Lagos since 2013) for help, due to ignorance, stigma or shame.’
The most important thing to prove in a case of rape is penetration, this can be done either by seeing a doctor immediately after, by showing that there are symen stains or injuries caused by struggle. The question is what does a prosecutrix(prosecution in a case of rape) do if there is no injury occasioned by struggle or semen stains? Also, A study analyzing the hospital records of 76 sexual assault victims in Ile-Ife, Osun state, Nigeria, from 2007–2011 found that the majority (76.1%) of the victims that sought help at a hospital did so within 24 hours of their sexual assault, but forensic evidence was not gathered because rape kits have yet to be introduced in the country.
You should have seen the look on my face! How was I to know that I was to visit a medical center? What if it was too late? Do these hospitals even have rape kits? It felt like the stigma had been plastered on my fore head, now I had to go around telling people how I was raped by a boyfriend who had too much of testosterone, how I was drunk at the time, having to look into their judgmental eyes. I didn’t want to go anywhere, but what choice did I have, after all there is a Sexual Assault Referral Center(SARC) in lagos(the Mirabel center, Lagos teaching hospital, Ikeja.).
I visited the hospital, they found nothing, it was way passed one week after the experience. They use DNA technology. Apparently I was supposed to visit the hospital within 72 hours.
So here I am, I was raped I know this, how to prove it, I know not. How do I prove that the sex was without consent, if I voluntarily walked into his house? Drank the alcohol myself, but didn’t want sex! If only I knew the things I know now. Many more will suffer like me, I know for sure.
So yes violets are blue and roses red, he raped me true, but now, it’s just a story being said.