While people call for justice, psychologists have warned that there is need to examine a rapist or risk sending to jail a mentally derailed person. One of such is Dr Adeoye Oyewole, a consultant psychiatrist. He argued that no normal person can engage in rape. “I think that a rapist is not a normal person. Rape is a form of intercourse under coercion. Sexual intercourse takes place every day but what makes it abnormal is that it is not with the consent of both partners. Anyone who fails to seek the consent of others is said to be abnormal.
“As a professional, it could be as a result of mental illness. Such a person should go for analysis to ascertain if he or she is psychologically sound. I know that women could be angry when they hear such. But they should also ask, could this man be sick?
“You hear of a 60-year-old man defiling a 14-year-old child. What does he want to gain from it? Sexual health is not about the physical satisfaction but goes hand in hand with emotional aspect of it. It included the feedback that you get which means that you can talk about it.
What kind of feedback do you intend to get from such a child. It should be mandatory for a rapist to go for a psychiatric investigation. It is rather unfortunate that thousands of cases are not reported. We have had cases where parents take their raped child to the hospital and hide the facts. They will not even tell the doctor that their daughter was raped.”
He called on NGOs that deal on rape issues to ensure looking at the punitive nature of the crime and recommend that the suspect should go for assessment. “It will help people to understand the forces of rape. Someone hearing voices can be under the influence of that voice. Someone who just started taking hard drugs is said to be mentally impaired. Some people might have an impulse control disorder, some might be nymphomaniac.”
Just like the rapist, Oyewole advocated that victims need more help. “Someone who has been raped cannot see a man as a normal human being. Sometimes when you see some people very religious, it could be because they were raped. Even some will find it difficult to get married. Even if they do, they will find it difficult to establish a normal sexual relationship. Others find it difficult to love a man, some go into prostitution just get back at men.”
He suggested that owners of health centres and NGOs should establish a help line that they can be reached. “It could come inform of an email, telephone line or even a website. The victim and the rapist are already stigmatized, so to help them it has to be done secretly. Another group that could help is the religious organisation, who can pray that the people who were raped should come for special prayers. By so doing you will indirectly get a psychologist as part of the counselling team.”
Another expert, Dr Mrs Esther Foluke Akinsola, a Consultant on Developmental and Clinical Psychology said that thousands of victims are living with the mental torture. Dr Akinsola, who is also a senior lecturer at the Department of Psychology at the University of Lagos, said there is some kind of stigma attached at being labelled a rape victim. Hence it is one of the key reasons rape victims abhor coming out to voice their defilement.
According to her, a rape victim feels debased. “Her psyche is shattered. She fills defiled. A rape victim becomes emotionally distraught because her person is damaged. And honesty, nobody wants to be identified as a rape victim. That is they why they withdraw because there person has being violated. Their self-esteem has been shattered. Psychologically, the victim feels dehumanized. And because of that, they avoid being identified as rape victims.
“The society is not very supportive because there is some form of stigma attached to being identified as rape victim. A rape victim is angry. In fact, angry is even a subtle way to put it. She is engulfed in seething rage. And since the rapist overpowered and had canal knowledge of her, she experiences a sense of powerlessness. She bottles her anger. She is angry at herself and at society. She is confused at who to blame for her predicament. She sees herself as a misfit of the society because her person has been polluted.”
She warned on the danger of not summoning courage to tell the story. “It has so many consequences. Many of them resolve their anger in different ways. They could either become wayward or promiscuous. Some of them develop hatred for men.
“One important information is that most rapists are known to the victims. I still need to do a thorough research on this though. But 80 per cent rape cases I have studied were committed by either family members, or family friends or their social friends. Stranger rape cases occur, but are very few. And that is why the victim finds it difficult to cross over debasement.
“To worsen it, when the rape occurs within a family member, some parents tend to cover it up. They would strongly chide and hush the rape victim never to say it out, to avoid bring disharmony within their family. So, the people that are supposed to believe and assist the victims, ends up asking them to just shut up. And reveal nothing.
“Such situations don’t allow the victim to dissuade their anger. So, their rage keeps on building up and the only they unleash it is to engage in defiant behaviours.
“In fact, those of them that come out to say must have garnered a lot of courage. We need avenues by which victims can feel safe to open up. I don’t know if we have much of such platforms in Nigeria. I use to hear of Crime Victim Foundation, but I don’t know if they still exist. The foundations take up rape cases as they try to rehabilitate and repair the psyche of rape victims.”