, 22 June, 2020 / 9:30 PM
Reports that indicate a spike in cases of rape in recent days in Nigeria have caught the attention of the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja who has termed the actions “heinous crime of rape” and demanded legal action against the perpetrators.
“The increasing cases of the heinous crime of rape are frightening. The rape culture is as repulsive and reprehensible as it is dehumanizing,” Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Abuja said Sunday, June 21.
He added, “Rape inflicts life-long untold psychological trauma on the victims. Rape is not only a grievously sinful act, but also a very barbaric and criminal act.”
Rape cases against women in Africa’s most populous country have been on the increase in recent weeks, leading to a number of Nigerian protesters taking to the streets and using social media under #WeAreTired to demand for urgent action and justice for victims.
Between May 28 and June 1, two college students, Uwaila Vera Omozuwa (22) and Barakat Bello (18) were raped and killed in separate incidents.
In his Democracy Day address to the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari said that he was “upset at recent incidents of rape, especially of very young girls” and noted that security agencies in the country are pursuing the cases and will ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.
Governors in the 36 states of Nigeria have also declared a state of emergency over rape and other gender-based violence against women and children in the West African country.
“We hope that the perpetrators of such heinous crimes will face the full wrath of the law and hopefully, they will be reformed and delivered of the bad spirit that leads them to commit such horrible sexual crimes,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
In his homily, the Prelate further said that cases of rape are symptoms “of an ungodly and dysfunctional society.”
“The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful,” Archbishop Kaigama said, making reference to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter, Vos Estis Lux Mundi.
As a way forward, the 61-year-old Prelate called on Nigerians, especially “Christians (who) have the capacity and are called to help restore our sick world that has lost the sense of sin” to speak against “ungodly behaviors.”
“Evil blinds us today such that we call what is bad, good and what is good, bad. We try to put out the light of truth because it exposes corruption, dishonesty, oppression, lust and many evils in the society,” Archbishop Kaigama said, referring to crimes in the country.
“Do not be afraid to speak out and act against ungodly behaviors, injustice, corruption, politics without morality, bad governance, etc.,” the Local Ordinary of Abuja said, giving the example of Biblical personalities who were not afraid to tell the truth amidst opposition including Jeremiah, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, and John the Baptist.
“Those who stand up for Christ in spite of their troubles are the ones who will be rewarded at the end of time when Jesus acknowledges them before His Father,” the Nigerian Archbishop said and added, “The remedy to evil is the fear of God not fear of men; to worship and honor God; to always tell the truth and shame the devil and to acknowledge Jesus before others.”
“I urge us to pray today for the courage, strength, wisdom and knowledge to speak the truth of the Gospel without fear or shame. This is the surest way of defeating evil,” Archbishop Kaigama concluded.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa