Rage Over Abuse Of Womanhood

News Introduction: 
Women in Enugu protest the rape of aged women and widows by youths for rituals. - By Maurice Okafor

For aged women and widows in Opi, a community in Enugu State, life is no longer safe. Most of them have been subjected to gang rape by young men between the ages of 17 and 25. In September last year, an elderly widow was gang raped to death by some unidentified youths. 
This magazine gathered that the action of the youths was informed by the belief that such act brings money, political power and influence to the perpetrators. This involves forcefully gang raping the women, washing her vaginal discharge into a small pot and taking same to herbalist for the rituals.
The death of the aged woman attracted reaction from government and non-governmental organisations. There was protest by a group of Nsukka women to the state capital, after all efforts by the police in Nsukka and the traditional rulers in the area failed to arrest the situation. A group known as The Umuada Igbo Cultural Association also carried a cleansing prayer in Opi community to remold the character of the youths of the area. But the heinous crime has continued unabated. This magazine learnt three women from the community were ganged raped last week, prompting the reaction of the people. The Umuada Igbo, in conjunction with other women groups in Enugu, staged a peaceful protest to the Enugu State House of Assembly. Chairperson of Umuada Igbo, Lolo Uzoamaka Ezeofor called for prompt action of members of the House to save Opi women from further abuse. Lolo Ezeofor said the women no longer make public appearances, visit their farms and have rest at nights for fear of sexual harassment by the youths. Consequently, they set up a six-man committee headed by Hon Michael Nze, to investigate the allegation. The committee was given five weeks to report their findings to the House. The speaker of the assembly, Hon. Eugene Odoh, gave an assurance that the House would assist the committee with every logistic in the course of its investigation. 
A Catholic priest, Rev. Father Paulinus Ikechukwu Ogara, told this magazine that the belief that sleeping with old women could turn around the fortunes of a young man was false. “Some people nurture superstitious belief that when they climb an old woman, their life span will be expanded. But I don’t see the link between raping an old woman and extending one’s life span. Instead, it shortens their lives because sin does not expand life but shortens life, no matter how you look at it.” The clergy man stated that the cause of raping old women as presently the case in Opi could be attributed to ignorance, which he described as a cousin to superstition, “because superstition is founded on ignorance.”
Ezeugwu Ezeugwu, a citizen of Opi Nsukka, in a chat with this magazine, said that it was sacrilegious for young men to rape old women. He stressed that such incident was strange in Opi community and was forbidden by the people, their culture and tradition. Ezeugwu blamed the atrocity on politics, which he said was a product of foreign culture. He particularly traced this awkward politics in Opi Nsukka to the advent of 1999 politics, when people who want political power now indulge in forms of rituals to get devilish power to subdue their opponents.
He regretted that the gods had refused to avenge as was the case in the past when such perpetrators of abominable acts in the area would attract the wrath of the gods such as instant madness and misfortunes.
Mrs. Onyeka Udegbulam, leader of Hope Initiative, a nongovernmental organisation, urged the Enugu State House of Assembly to investigate the matter. Mrs. Chika Eneh, who represents Udi South constituency in the House, said there were indications that some powerful men were behind the young men because the suspects were released almost immediately after arrests. When the state police command launched investigation into the matter, many of the victims failed to come forward to testify. The suspects, who were detained by the police, it was learnt, were also granted bail. 


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