I don’t have many social media platforms but, I went online to have a look at how the leaders of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) – the church where she was found, responded and how her University responded. I was a bit speechless and disappointed, I’m not going to lie.
The hashtag Justice for Uwa and We are Tired have been trending on social media after Vera, a microbiology student was raped and left for dead at a prominent church in Nigeria. She was found by church security guards and taken to hospital. Four days later she died from her injuries.
There are so many things that bothered me about this story, the main one being that another innocent girl lost her lost in a place where she was supposed to feel the most safe. Another one, was that as I heard this news, it wasn’t something that shocked me because violence and sexual abuse against women in something that is rife in Nigeria and is nothing new. For example, the mutilation of female genitalia in some cultures, sexual abuse from family members that can span years, violence against innocent children, marrying off little girls as young as 9. The list could go on.
It broke my heart reading this story and the stories of so many others. It really hit home. Again, I had to ask myself. When will it all end?
The rape and abuse of women in Nigeria is nothing new in the “culture” and this is unfortunate. It is something that needs to addressed and not swept under the rug! Authority figures and people in power need to do more than just tweet words and pray. Words and prayers can only go so far. Legislations need to be passed. Justice needs to be served!
We all know: actions speak louder than words!
Her University while trying to prove sincere, ended by saying “beware of the company you keep and where you visit” I’m sorry WHAAT??? So you’re saying, it’s because of who she was with and where she went??
She went to CHURCH! You’re supposed to feel safe in that environment…
This was very tactless. To me it sounded like they were saying “she shouldn’t have a been there in the first place. If she wasn’t there it wouldn’t have happened.” sounded very insincere.
The response below just sums it up:
The General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E.A Adeboye wrote on Twitter:
To me, here it looks like he is trying to distance himself from the situation at large. Growing up and coming from a Christian background, I know he is a very well respected man in the Church and I am not coming for his character or who he is as a teacher or preacher. He is trying to convey his thoughts the only way he knows how but, I think there’s a better way. After all, it does say in scripture faith without works is dead. Which means, you have follow up the praying and believing with action.
Concerning things like this, and crimes committed in the Church in general, we need to see more active consequences so we know that practical things are being done to bring change! Support her and other families who have suffered from sexual violence, financially I.e. Pay rent or for funerals or go and visit and look into what support families need.
It brings me back to the issue of the Church as a whole. They sometimes distance themselves – either as individuals or whole institutions – from very real real issues that they need to educate themselves on.
An article in the Fair Observer chronicled the culture of rape and violence towards women.
As a women of Nigerian heritage, who is proud to be Nigerian despite its faults, it is embedded deep in the “culture” that women are seen as inferior (in most cases). It’s in every area, in education, in work and in the home. Yes, and even places of worship – they are not exempt to this!
In 2014 on Violence Against Children in Nigeria confirmed one in four females reported experiencing sexual violence in childhood with approximately 70% reporting more than one incident of sexual violence. In the same study, it was found that 24.8% of females’ ages 18 to 24 years experienced sexual abuse prior to age 18 of which 5.0% sought help, with only 3.5% receiving any services.
This was 6 years ago. I’m 100% sure that with each passing year those statistics have risen. Which is unfortunate but the reality of it. Rape cases don’t always get reported for fear of being stigmatised.
Allegedly in Nigeria, 2 million Nigerians are raped every year but there isn’t enough evidence to support it. The article below goes into more detail.
And what does it tell me? It tells me that’s the system is seriously flawed across the board. The data that they do collect is either too broad or doesn’t concentrate on victims.
I was talking to my friend the other day about this and I was saying there is too much power at the top, given to the wrong people, sending out the wrong message. But now, there is a shift, the winds of change are blowing!
People have had enough!
Women across Nigeria and internationally are speaking out, speaking up, standing with victims like Uwa saying: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
It is about time that those who have the power, the rapists, the bystanders who keep silent are held accountable – from family members who turn a blind eye, to institutions who fail our women across the board.
This is certainly not an isolated issue! It calls for everyone to take a stand; for Uwa and for Tina who was only 14 years old when she was shot and killed carelessly on the 26th of May and for 12 year old Jennifer who was gang raped in April.
Toyin Saraki wrote a compelling article on the failures of girls and women in Nigeria and how we can make a change! Please give this a read!
We need stand up for those girls and women who are no longer here to speak out for themselves and those who are too afraid.
Justice for all women and children who suffer at the hands of rapists and abusers. The time to act is here!
You can start now by signing this petition: http://chng.it/GCB8sbNpMS