A 13-year-oldgirl allegedly raped by a 41-year-old man has been delivered of a baby in Lagos.
The man was said to have threatened to kill the girl if she told anyone that she was raped.
But she was over five months gone before the mother got to know that she was pregnant.
The woman was jolted when a doctor told her: “Madam, your daughter is carrying a five months, two weeks’ pregnancy!”
A dejected Mrs Mary Oboh looked helpless, wondering who could have put her first child in the family way. “Who is responsible for this?” she asked her daughter.
When the girl opened up, the disconsolate mother could not believe her ears: Her fellow worshipper in church was responsible.
The girl was delivered of the baby last Saturday at a general hospital in Lagos through Caesarean Section.
Mrs Oboh told said she met the man and his wife in church and became friends.
The wife usually keeps cooked food in the Obohs’ freezer, which the man fetch on returning from work.
“Sometimes in March, I asked my daughter to take the food to their house when the man called that he was around. On getting there, the man locked the door, raped her and told her not to inform anybody. He said if she said anything, she would die,” Mrs Oboh said.
“I have been noticing her for some time. I even asked her when last she saw her period, when her response was not convincing, I took her to a medical centre where we were told that she was not only pregnant but was carrying five months, two weeks old foetus. That same week the man’s wife gave birth. The police later arrested him a day after his child’s naming. Since then, he has been in police custody before he was transferred to Kirikiri because he could not raise fund for his bail,” she said.
The grandmother hopes her daughter would recover soon to return to school.
“She is a brilliant girl whose desire is to become a medical doctor; she missed the Junior West African Examination Council (WAEC) due to the pregnancy. I pray she recovers quickly to return to school while I take care of the baby,” said the mother of four.
A lawyer and National Coordinator of Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA), Mrs Funmi Falana, who is helping the Oboh family to pursue the case in court blamed the girl’s mother for negligence.
“How could you have a girl under you and you couldn’t notice she was pregnant for such a long period. I think the woman is very careless,” she said, adding that the case was already at the Family Court in Ikeja.
She said the man’s action may not be unconnected to the general moral laxity in the society.
She noted: “If you go out, especially along Allen Avenue, you see nude girls there every night hawking their bodies. We also cannot take it away from the general violence in the society.”
The WELA coordinator said most rape perpetrators got away with it because of the technicality involved in prosecuting the case.
She explained: “You must be versed in this area of the law before you can get a conviction for an offender. From the time the girl is raped, she should not wash herself or her underpants. The first step is to take her for medical examination and because it must be established that there was penetration, the private part must be examined and a record of it must be taken. But the first thing they (victims) do is go and wash up and that destroys the first evidence.
“After records have been taken, you report to the police. Usually, for an underage, it becomes more difficult. The police on the other hand, in the course of taking statements, several times created conflicts especially if the victim is an underage girl, there is no way she can comprehend what was happening. There is no way you can give a version of event two or three times without conflict and when there is conflict, the girl would be pressed again.
“There was a case of a seven-year-old girl that was allegedly raped by her stepfather. The police took the statement of the girl about seven times and as a result, there was conflict in her statements because she could not understand what she was doing. She was too minor for such a thing and did not even know why she had to make the statements and because of that, the case was destroyed.
“There is also a rule which has made its way into the criminal code now which is the Rule of Corroboration. It talks about the evidence of the victim by a third party as if the case of rape is a dinner that you invite someone to. So, usually, there is nobody to corroborate because such an offence is perpetrated in secrecy.”
Mrs Falana blamed the society for stigmatising rape victims.
She appealed to people to speak out on rape cases. “If the person is not your daughter, she may be the daughter of somebody close to you next time,” she said.