By Isabella Enaworu
Rape is not just a physical, violent act perpetrated against one victim, it is an assault on humanity – Emma Watson.
Despite the efforts of government and non-governmental organisations to sensitize the public on sexual violence against women, for some reasons, it still thrives.
The Nollywood actor, James Olanrewaju, fondly called Baba Ijesha, was recently sentenced to sixteen (16) years of imprisonment over the assault of a fourteen-year-old girl.
The victim was first assaulted by Baba Ijesha when she was seven years old. The key question is, who is Baba Ijesha to her? And how did he get a private moment to assault her?
Damilola Adekoya is the adoptive mother of the victim. She is a popular comedienne and actress with the stage name Princess. Princess and Baba Ijesha have known each other since 2008. The duo are colleagues in the Nollywood movie industry. The minor narrated that when she was seven years old, Baba Ijesha visited them. He brought out his penis and asked her to sit on his lap. She removed her pants and sat on his lap. Later on, she felt something wet on her body. Baba Ijesha used a handkerchief to clean himself up while he asked her to go and wash up.
The following day, Baba Ijesha returned to their house. He asked her to follow him to his car to pick up the fruits he brought. On getting to his car, he inserted a car key into the child’s vagina. The victim also noted that he tried to kiss her.
The culprit left the victim traumatized by the event. Princess in a video said that for the past seven years, the child’s academic performance had declined. She also noted that in the last seven years, they had been trying to discover the root cause of the child’s problem. It was recently that the victim disclosed the incident that occurred seven years ago.
Princess decided to execute a sting operation to capture the pedophile in action. She invited Baba Ijesha to her house and called a company to install a CCTV camera in their home. Baba Ijesha arrived when the technical team that fixed the CCTV was leaving. She informed Babe Ijesha that she was going to see the worker off. Princess by that time, had already asked everyone to leave the house, leaving him with the minor. It is important to note that after his demonic act seven years ago, the culprit had not seen the young girl again.
Seven years later, Baba Ijesha remained unrepentant. When he realized he was home alone with the minor, he became eager to satisfy his brutish urge. Yet, this was bound to be the last he would have in several years.
Armed with evidence, Princess involved the police. Baba Ijesha begged and claimed it was the devil that pushed him to defile the innocent minor. All his plea fell on deaf ears because the Police took him to the station. After trials in court, Baba Ijesha was later sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. On Thursday, July 13, 2022, this rape case which began as a child’s play on June 16, 2021, before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Lagos Special Sexual Offence Court in Ikeja was brought to an end; at least pending appeal by the defence team. Baba Ijesha’s case proves that sexual assaulters are not recognized by age, profession, social ranking, physical appearance, or perceived moral standards.
An analysis carried out by The Conversation showed that victims between the ages of 11 to 20 are more prone to rape as they represented 46.1% of rape victims in the last five years. Also, victims between the ages of 1 to 10 are represented by 45.5%. It was also discovered that most perpetrators of rape hold important positions in the lives of their victims. Such as fathers, brothers, uncles, family friends, relatives, clergymen, among others.
More than ever, it is important for parents to begin sex education for both their male and female children early enough. They should begin by understanding the basic difference between a boy and a girl. It is also pertinent to teach your daughters to be outspoken. Teach them how to relate to the opposite sex. They should also understand what part of their body a person of the opposite sex shouldn’t touch. When children are educated to know the basics, they can easily report anybody who behaves oddly with them.
Most rape victims reveal that some of the reasons they were afraid to disclose the activities of the perpetrator were because they were threatened. Perpetrators threaten victims to ensure they continue their devilish acts. When you ensure you understand this and make your child aware of this, they can confide in anybody.
Sometimes, the perpetrator of rape is someone you would never imagine. However, do not jeopardize your future or that of a minor by not letting perpetrators pay for their crimes. Rape is an assault against humanity and perpetrators need to dance to the tunes of the law. Rape cases are quite sensitive as there are certain things you must prove. Perpetrators must be reported immediately to ensure that the proof is still intact. In cases of rape, it is important to present the court with hard evidence.
Below are some pieces of evidence the court checks:
- Was there penetration? Often the victim is required to do a medical examination to ascertain the truth. This is why it is advised that victims do not wash up, especially when there was a release.
- The law and police regard consent as a priority. When intimacy occurs without consent or obtained under threat or duress, rape can be said to have occurred. A person would likely be guilty based on that fact.
- A person who is under the age of 14 is a minor thus, such cases can be termed whether the victim gave her consent or not. A mentally unsound person cannot consent to engage in sexual acts. Thus, any form of sexual activity with them can be termed rape.
- Proof of struggle. One of the major characteristics of rape is that there is often a struggle. The perpetrator may scratch the victim’s body or tear their clothes. This is also a piece of evidence that rape occurred.
The law protects the girl-child from sexual predators. Whether a rape incident happened recently or years ago, do well to report it. When justice is sought, it must be delivered; let us all do well to challenge the norms and customs
Read Domestic Violence Against Women in Nigeria
Also check out our LEGAL AID for victims of Gender Based Violence.