Features! The silent victims: Nigeria and the ‘non-issue’ of male rape (Part One)

Rape is not an obscure topic in Nigeria. There are numerous organizations fighting against the rising incidents of rape in the country including stigmatization of rape victims. What is obscure in the country is Male rape issues. There is in fact no attention on male rape caes. The more pronounced fight is on female rape cases. But there are pockets of male rape issues in the country. In the article below adapted from Ynaija.com, Mazi Emeka discusses the silent issue of male rape cases and the way out. We have divided the piece into two parts. We present pat one today. Read this!

Part One

Aroused and angry,
I thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war;
But soon my fingers fail’d me, my face droop’d, and I resign’d myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead.

Walt Whitman (1819–1892), Leaves of Grass.

The Nigerian society is ruled by a strict definition of masculinity and the roles of both genders (male and female) are clearly outlined. Ascribed roles for each gender are in no way expected to interpolate. Men (and boys) are expected to be strong, solid and nothing less.

Gilia Banks in an article entitled ‘Masculinity in Nigeria: Rebellion vs. Conformity and Power’, posits that:
“Masculinity is the only way of living for both the young and old men of Nigeria. Fathers drill it into their sons and society will reinforce these guidelines to further instill them into every little boy’s way of living. It starts young and they receive training to be the best, as they get older.”

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In lieu of this, it becomes a huge problem- how to define, discuss and even acknowledge the issue of male sexual assault in a society where masculinity is so valued, strongly defined and controlled.

Rape, regardless of gender and sexuality, is an issue nobody wants to talk about; hence it is highly under-reported globally. Despite the fact that Nigeria is largely a parochial society, it is worthy to note that sexual crimes against men occur in the country– even though it is not as common as female rape.

Society is increasingly aware and empathetic towards female rape victims, many, however, fail to believe –not to talk of sympathize- that men can actually be sexually assaulted. Victims of male rape have overtime remained unknown, invisible and their stories untold. They die in silence, with no one knowing the cause of their anguish.

Male victims of rape are plagued with the same feelings as female victims, such as anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), paranoia, withdrawal, depression, loss of sleep, self-loathe, shame and flashbacks.

Due to the trauma, many victims of male sexual abuse go on to become abusers themselves- and they don’t discriminate on the gender of their victims.

It is a case of double whammy for male rape victims as they are left with a feeling that they have been ‘de-maned’ (to feel less than a man).

In a society where masculinity is, more or less, equated with power, respect and dominance, the feeling of being less of a man can seriously affect the functions of a male in all aspects of life- sociologically, biologically, psychologically and even, physically.

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The Nigerian criminal law (both the criminal code applied in the South and the penal code used in the North) define rape as an act that must involve a woman or girl only. Hence, it is safe to say that in Nigeria, a man cannot be raped or even be sexually assaulted. What hope then does the victims of male rape have in getting justice or even succour?

In an email exchange with YNaija, Rashidi William, the Founder and Director of Queer Alliance, explains the mindset of male rape victims.

“The stigma that is attached to being a victim of rape ensures that rape victims remain silent about their experiences. It only takes courage and resilience to come forth and speak out about being raped as a man.”

“Male rape happens. It might be rare but we cannot rule out the fact that a man can be raped. And rape must be not viewed as penetrative. An act that involves the sexual parts of the body without the consent is what constitute rape.”

“It is a mockery of one’s maleness when a man is raped regardless of who rapes the man. We can count a whole number of reasons as to why male rape victims refuse to speak out. The main conundrum is the loss of power or one’s masculine identity. So when this happens, victims think the best thing to do is to keep silent which on the other hand has more implications in comparison to the so called loss of power or masculine identity.”

Although there are cases where a woman rapes a man, majority, however, are situations where a man rapes another man.

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Source:

ynaija.com

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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