AS you approach her, she averts eye contact, preferring to look at the ground; call her name, she nods her head without saying a word. She is equally not forthcoming when you try to engage her in a conversation. Yet this is a girl who was said to be outgoing and playful before her most recent traumatic experience.
But after much prodding by Vanguard Features, VF, 13-year-old Sadia (not real name) and a primary five pupil of a private school in Jos, the Plateau State capital, was able to tell her story, albeit amidst tears.
Residents in shock
A middle aged man was caught defiling her at about 7am on the fateful day of October 12, 2014. It was an ugly incident that has since turned her life upside down and left residents in the neighbourhood reeling in shock.
She said it was not the first time the man raped her, adding that she had before this time allowed him to have his way because he gave her money to meet her urgent need, which is food. So their being caught in the act, booed and sniggered at by a curious crowd of residents, was a “shame too much” for her bear.
Narrating her ordeal, she said: “Papa Emeka always sent me to buy things for him and he would leave the change with me. One day, he asked me if I had started seeing my menses and I asked him what that means, but he said I should forget it. Another day, he called and told me to enter his room and clean it. As I entered, he came in, pushed me on the bed and held my mouth. I was scared but he was pleading with me not to shout that he wants me to start seeing my menses.
“As he was trying to rape me, I bit him and he left me alone. Because he locked the door, I could not go out, so he started begging me not to tell anyone and he gave me N500. I did not tell anyone because I was confused and I was scared of telling my stepmother because she would beat me.
“After many weeks, he asked me to buy a bottle of soft drink for him. When I went in to give him the drink, he poured it inside a cup for me. After drinking it, I started feeling tired and had to lie on the floor. I did not know what happened thereafter, but when I woke up, he said I should go before my stepmother would start looking for me. I was feeling pains and did not know anything but I could not tell anyone.”
Sadia added: “About five days later, he called me, put me on his leg and started touching my body. He asked me if I told anyone that I slept in his house, and I said no. Though I was scared, I could not tell anyone because immediately he finished, he gave me N500 and said I should go home and have my bath. Since I did not eat, I used the money and bought food at the roadside.”
However, luck ran out on the randy man on the third day (October 12, 2014) when he called the girl at about 6.30am not knowing that the stepmother was yet to leave the house and suspicious neighbours took note when the girl entered his apartment.
While the stepmother was looking for the girl, a neighbour knocked at the randy man’s door, opened it and caught him in the act. She drew the attention of others but before the culprit could be apprehended, he escaped through the back door and the poor girl had to face the shame of neighbours openly reprimanding her.
Ever since the incident, she keeps to herself, plays with no one and endures the trauma of daily scolding from her stepmother. She confessed she felt like dying as she knows people are yet to forget the incident and are talking behind her back.
Long list of girls raped, traumatised
But unknown to Sadia, she is one in a long list of young girls who have been raped in recent time. On September 13, 2014, in Mangu Local Government Area, another minor, eight years old Nankling (not real name), a primary two pupil, was defiled by a teenager at Mangu Halle. On the same day, a 10- year-old girl in Mararaba Pushit was raped by a married man who has two children. At Jakatai, a nine- year-old was raped on September 22, 2014 by a 38-year-old father of four.
Telling the story to VF, the mother of the eight-year-old victim, Mama Nankling, said she is yet to overcome the trauma of having her daughter being defiled in that manner. She added she never imagined the neighbour could be so wicked to do such to her baby.
According to her: “He always came around here to play with my children. One day, he took this girl to one uncompleted building in our area and started sleeping with her. I did not see my daughter around so I thought she was playing in the neighbourhood, but she came home, limping and crying. When I asked what happened, she told me what Aminu did to her. When we got to his house and he confirmed he did it, we got him arrested. He is there with the Police and they had charged him to court. No matter the result of the judgement, I will still be sad that this happened to me and I feel guilty that I did not do enough to keep my child from harm’s way.”
At Kwata, Zawan in Jos South Local Government Area, a 17-year-old girl was on July 7, 2014 raped by a neighbour who also threatened to kill her if she told anyone. There was also another case at Barkin Ladi where a security personnel attached to the Special Task Force, STF, raped a four-year-old girl in the neighbourhood. Though the randy Mobile policeman had been dismissed by the Police authorities and charged to court, the parents of the girl still lament the situation.
Relationship with victims
Within three weeks in November 2014, three different incidences occurred at Corner Shagari area of Jos North. First, a teenage girl was raped by six men and then at Tudun Wada in the same local government, a three-year old was raped by a middle aged man. At Bukuru in Jos South, a five year old girl was raped by a man in his 30s.
The case is not different in other areas like Kanam and Qua’an Pan where VF investigations reveal that rape of minor is on the increase across the religious divides in the local government areas. It was also established that most of the assailants had some form of relationship with the victims and this, most times, hinders the cases from being reported.
To be continued