By Ismaeel Uthman
The ugly trend of rape is on the increase in the State of Osun, investigations have revealed.
According to available reports, there is an upsurge in rape cases between April and June this year.
Investigations revealed that the number of reported cases is far lesser than the unreported, as there are many cases which are being concealed by victims and their families in the state.
Findings by the medium have it that aside sexual assault; some culprits engaged in rape for ritual purposes which pose bigger threats to the victims.
Between May 28 and June 17 this year, no fewer than seven rape cases have been recorded by the police, even as other victims of the dastardly act have refused to speak out.
Of the seven recorded cases, five of the victims were minors between the ages of seven and 16 years.
Ile-Ife has the highest record with three cases within the period under review; while Osogbo, Ilesa, Ila- Orangun and Ibokun have one each.
According to police reports, an average-aged man, Isiaka Adeyombo of Ayelabowo Street, Ile-Ife was arrested on May 28, 2020 for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl.
Adeyombo was accused of dragging his victim into his house and having unlawful carnal knowledge of her.
Also, a 28-year-old man, Oyerinde Oyeniyi was arrested for allegedly raping his 11-year-old landlord’s daughter on June 14, 2020.
The proprietor of Tutor General Coaching Centre, Ile-Ife, Mr Eronse Balat was also accused of raping a 23-year-old physically challenged girl on June 17, 2020.
It was learnt that Balat did take the victim to his centre where he allegedly raped her on several occasions until she became pregnant.
In Osogbo, a 15-year-old local drink seller was allegedly raped by a septuagenarian, Jacob Ayinla on June 10, 2020.
Ayinla was accused of luring his victim into his house under the pretext of buying ‘pito’, a local drink and had unlawful carnal knowledge of her.
According to report, one Adeoye Makinde (30) of Y87A, Isona Street, Ilesa was arrested on June 16, 2020 for allegedly attempting to rape a 13-year-old girl.
Makinde was accused of luring the girl into his house and had a failed attempt to rape her.
It was also gathered that a seven-year-old girl was allegedly defiled on June 17, 2020 by a 19-year-old boy, Afolabi Isiaka at Adekunle area, Ila-Orangun.
The media was last Monday awash with the report of a 50-year-old man, Adeleye Fayemiwo who allegedly raped his daughter at Agbongbe Street, Ibokun.
According to the Commissioner of Police in the state, Undie Adie in a report obtained on Tuesday, all the rape suspects had been arrested, while some are already standing trail in court.
Adie warned that the state would not be a safe haven for rapists, urging victims and parents to ensure they don’t relent until they get justice.
He said: “For rapists, they are not going to find a safe haven in the state. Parents and victims are advised to always come forward timely with reports when it happens and never to get dissuaded from pursuing their cases to conclusion.”
Also a Non-Governmental Organisation, Global Girls Network has raised concerns over the rising rate of rape cases involving children in the state.
Ms Itunuoluwa Ibikunle, who is the leader of the group lamented that while the heinous acts are being perpetrated on adults in many parts of the country including Osun, cases of children being raped have however been on the increase in the state.
Ibikunle stated that no fewer than five rape cases of children between ages 3 and 15 were reported to her organisation during the lockdown.
She said: “For the past weeks, the country has experienced several rape cases of young girls who were not only raped but killed in the process; which seems to have become a trend recently.
“Also, here in Osun, the rate of rape cases involving children keeps increasing daily and this calls for concerns. During the lockdown, not less than five cases have been reported in which their age range is between 3 and 15 years. It is quite disheartening.
Ibikunle also accused community, traditional leaders as well as family heads of being responsible for the rising rape cases.
According to her, the leaders prevail on the victims to settle out of court; thereby preventing the offenders from being prosecuted.
The State Government of Osun has begun the compilation of rape and gender-based offenders’ register.
According to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, the state would soon release its maiden edition of Sex and Gender-Based Offender’s Register.
He said the Register would, among others, help to blacklist offenders and forestall recurrence.
Reacting to the increase in rape case, the Chief Executive Director, Eco Centre for Transformation and Empowerment Initiative, Citizen Lola Wey ascribed the situation to silence of the victims, poverty, poor parenting and longer stay of the female children at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Wey, the actual number of rape cases is far higher than the reported ones, saying that the society is not helping in checkmating the menace by concealing the cases to the appropriate authority.
She said: “The case of rape in Osun is far higher than what is being reported. What we are dealing with is a societal issue whereby the people involved would turn a criminal case to a family matter.
“Few days ago, somebody called me from Ile-Ife to tell me that a 10-year-old girl, Blessing Asiyanbi was raped but I do not know the person who raped her. When I contacted the mother, she told me her husband would talk to me later. When I called the husband, he was telling me something else. Up till now, the parents have not reached out to me again but somebody had hinted me that because of the way our communities behave, they do not want the information to leak out.
“I believe the rape cases are higher than what we hear. There are many underreported cases. I got to know of the Ife case because it was somebody in the hospital that alerted. The person told me there were other cases like that which are not reported.”
Speaking on the factors responsible for the rape cases, Wey said: “Poor parenting, poverty, insecure environment, the tendency of the young ones, the people seeking political power, ritual, etc. The carelessness of the parents on the movement of their children, especially during this period should be looked into.
“A child that is made to hawk on the street is exposed to rape, and ritual killings. These days, both mothers and fathers are out for endless hours during the day without ensuring that their children are under the care of responsible adults. Hard drugs, which are readily available in every part of our society is another huge factor.
“The issue of rape can be solved by addressing poverty, re-orientation of the society, media enlightenment, community engagement and sensitisation of victims of rape. Every member of the society must be involved in solving the problem. It is not legislation that will save the situation; legislation will only address the issue of perpetrators and reduce it a little. Has armed robbery stopped in spite of the stiffer penalties on it? We need more than registration.
“The government also needs to be blamed for using some of these youths as thugs. When anyone of the political thugs is arrested, the powerful people in government intervene and free the criminals. Also, the culture of silence of the raped victims and their families should have to change if we must have an end to this ugly incidence. Girls must also be encouraged not to walk alone, walk carelessly or go out with improper dress.
Speaking, the founder of Monsurat Ajoke Foundation, Ms Monsurat Ibraheem decried the increase in the rape cases, saying that the time has come for every responsible soul in the country to join the campaign against rape.
Ibraheem stated that because of the indigenous and traditional setting of Osun, a lot of rape cases are being settled within families and communities, saying that such practice has not been helpful in having correct report on incidence of rape in the state.
According to her, some of rape victims and their families who wanted to report the cases to the police were sometimes threatened and blackmailed by members or the heads of their communities.
She said: “It is disturbing that rape cases are on the increase in our dear state, Osun. Without sounding immodest, it is alarming that Osun could record seven cases of rape in just 21 days. How did we arrive here, even though that is not the actual number of the cases?
“There are many unreported cases of rape in Osun. People are suffering in silence because of the setting of our environment. There is need to encourage rape victims to speak up. There is need to enlighten the community and family heads that rape is not a case they can settle.
“The police must also be professional in handling rape cases because some victims decided to keep quiet after being raped due to the fact that they do not have confidence in the police.”