If a woman says she was raped, whether it is true or false, she deserves our support. Rape is too big a word to be toyed with. In my opinion, a woman who says she was raped when nothing of such happen has bigger problem than a woman that is raped (she need more help).
That was my initial reaction to Sugabelly’s rape narrative. Let’s assume she was saying the truth, she deserves our support, on the other hand, let’s assume she was lying, she deserves our support. Head or tail, Audu’s children and friends accused of rape and repugnant acts are now the victims; I don’t envy them neither do I pity their PR consultant right now.
What sense should we make of Sugabelly’s accusation? There are many. One, I will pay more attention to my daughter if I ever had one. I have always felt it is excruciatingly tasking to raise a child, and that has a Mathematics’ raised to power 2 to it if you were to raise a daughter. Raising my boys with my dutiful wife is not the kind of task school can prepare you for. You constantly have to keep up with the changes, options, knowledge, ever present cartoons, new friends and the music that break the heart of dutiful parents blaring out of the car radio, the TV or end of the year party. The ‘revelation’ by Sugabelly makes me reassess my role as a parent, my fear and the ever present question ‘am I doing enough to prepare them for tomorrow including all the sexual demons out there? Am I paying enough attention and am I praying enough?’ Many questions but few answers! This revelation should make all parents ask themselves the hard questions which require honest answers. Are you preparing your kids to face the monsters in human form out there?
Secondly, the accusation and counter accusation have made me jump to the conclusion to believe Sugabelly hook, line and sinker. What woman lie about rape in that proportion, graphic details and is brazen to use pictures without being sure? The Sugabelly story is so believable, we almost did not need court of law to pass judgement. We all know the judgement to pass-‘to the cross o ye Audu’s children’. But at the risk of standing against popular opinion, I beg to disagree. The fact that Sugabelly made it believable does not mean we should believe it without raising questions, the fact that she was brazen about it does not mean she couldn’t be lying.
I remember an incident in my childhood that shaped the way I take accusation without hard facts till date. My late step-mum had overheard a male child of our tenant, Oluyemi saying he kept money with a neighbour; she mistook the neighbour to be me. She reported me to my father and asked me with all the tricks in the book if I was keeping money for our neighbour. I said no since I wasn’t keeping money for the said neighbour. Oluyemi was called and asked if he kept money with me, and to my shock and chagrin he said yes. I looked at him in the eyes and asked with tears dropping from my eyes if he heard the question correctly, he said ‘yes’ and insisted I had kept the money for him right in the presence of my father and step-mum who already had the whip with her. She beat the hell out of me and my accuser was there to witness the hellish beating without changing his mind. I was traumatised by that experience. Till my step mum died she never believed Oluyemi did not keep the money with me. Till today I do not take every accusation on face value without proofs.
Few years later, Oluyemi was in my office after many years in between, I raised the issue of the false accusation, and to my shock, he did not remember. How could he have forgotten about an event that lives with me till date? That part of it beats me. It occurred to me that most often than not, people who do evil forget but the victims of evil live with the horror of evil deed many years down the line. So, Sugabelly could be lying, Mustapha may be guilty as alleged; only hard facts can prove this and unfortunately this is one of the many cases that will be hard to prove. To put it succinctly, my humanity and soft side of me believes Sugabelly, but the logic and experience of the past make me want to give Mustapha benefits of doubt. There are three sides to every story, your side, my side and the truth.
People have questioned why Sugabelly kept in touch with her abuser, I laugh at such argument. Why do abused women stay through many years in the house of their abusers? Many abused still love their abusers. And please don’t forget she was 17, it is an age where love emotion is at its peak, at that age, people love with everything but sense. But why did she keep going back to the house of her accuser when she hated all the evil he was doing to her? The answer is ‘Stockholm syndrome’- is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors (Wikipedia). It is a dangerous thing when a teenage is in love.
The truth is, there are many things we will never be able to prove but head or tail, Sugabelly deserves our support and pity because she’s scarred and marked almost for life while Mustapha deserves our pity. Pity is the sense that if those allegations were true, he is mistake of a man living in human body, if they were not, he and his family will live with the scar of this forever.
Relevant government agencies should beam searchlight on this and need to stop treating rape accusation and cases with kids’ glove, like the popular advert once read, ‘E fit be you o, your daughter or your in-law or your wife’!
NB: For those who do not know about this, an Abuja based lady had accused late Governor Audu's children of rape and many graphic sexual abuse. Her sordid details could be read on her blog, www.sugabelly.com.