Life is no longer the same for 17-year-old Linda. In her community in Saminaka, Lere Local Government Area of Kaduna State, being gang-raped is almost the same as being stricken with a deadly and contagious disease.
When on April 5, Linda became the victim of the ravenous instincts of six teenage rapists, her life came crashing down and she became a recluse in her community, whom friends no longer speak to or play with.
Our correspondent went in search of Linda’s family two weeks after the incident that robbed her of her innocence.
The young girl said she did not think she would recover from the shock of the incident anytime soon.
Reminiscing about the incident alone was not an easy task for the teenager who is a senior secondary school year one student. But she summoned the courage to narrate the incident that led to the sexual assault that has left her dejected and rejected in her community.
According to her, at noon on April 5, 2016, her step-mother directed her to go and buy fresh vegetable from a nearby farm for lunch.
Linda said she and a cousin of hers named Rahila, set out for the farm where they were accosted by the six suspects, whom she believed were from another community, Ungwan Jamare. They told the girls they were the ones who would sell the vegetable.
The girl said, “They said we should allow them to bathe in a nearby stream first and that they would sell us the vegetable later. We said no, that they could sell us the vegetable and bathe later.
“We did not suspect that they had any bad plans. Before we knew what was going on, the boys had grabbed us and started to touch us. My cousin managed to escape to a safe distance.
“While they were dragging me here and there, my dress tore and the boys pushed me into the stream. I was begging them to let me go but they were all dragging me. Later, they pinned me down and tore my remaining clothes off. I was confused. I thought it was all a dream.
“I struggled with them and screamed but they overpowered me. One of the boys held my neck. I could not breathe. Another covered my mouth so that I could not even shout. I wrestled with them as they struggled. But I had become too weak. They then took turns to rape me in the water.”
The rapists were later identified as Abubakar Abdul Danjuma, 18, Jamilu Mohammed (14), Shamsideen Mohammed (20), Garba Hamisu, (13), Isah Dauda (17), and Abdul Rasheed Dahiru (17).
“I still tried to break free from them and ran away but two of the boys chased after me and when they caught me, one raped me again. At this point, I could not walk. My cousin, who witnessed the entire incident, had gone to alert elders in the community, the boys then ran away. I was already tired at this point, I told them that whatever they wanted to do, even if they wanted to kill me, they should do it. I was no longer afraid of death.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt that Linda’s cousin, Rahila, was able to race home and she alerted a community elder, identified as Baba Isah, who accompanied her to the scene of the incident. The man reportedly grabbed one of the boys he found at the scene.
The community vigilante men were able to round up other boys who fled. One of the boys reportedly turned himself in to the police. He was able to identify other boys who took part in the rape.
Linda said before the incident, she had never seen the boys before. She was later taken to the hospital where series of tests were carried out on her.
Unfortunately for the teenager, the trauma has changed her life.
“Whenever I think about what happened to me, I feel sad and pained because I can no longer walk freely in the community. People avoid talking to me now in the community. I have become like a leper among my family and people who know me,” she said.
Linda said that she was more annoyed because the families of her rapists have been putting pressure on her parents to let the matter go.
At 17, Linda’s parents would be planning her marriage soon but that is one of the reasons the girl is sad.
“Nobody will want to marry a girl that has been raped. I hate thinking about the matter. I feel ashamed when I am in the midst of people in the community People have been coming here to plead on behalf of the boys. But the police should do what the law says on the matter,” she said.
But the police have taken a different route on the matter.
When our correspondent contacted the Police Public Relations Officer in Kaduna State, Zubairu Abubakar, he said the command was not informed that it was a case of gang-rape but mere “assault”.
Abubakar said the suspects were minors (even though one of the suspects was said to be 20 years old). He added that a medical report indicated that the girl was not gang-raped but just “assaulted”.
Abubakar also said the girl said in her statement when the case was reported to the police that she was not raped.
“I am not aware of gang rape. The case that I am aware of is assault. It was reported three days after it had happened. All the boys in connection with the case were arrested. Though they are minors, we are investigating it. The case was first reported at the Lere division three days after the incident. It was later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department.
“What we have on record was that the victim went to a farm to buy vegetables and on the way, she entered somebody else’s farm and plucked guava. Out of annoyance, those boys pushed her into a small stream. That is what we have on the ground. The victim was taken to a hospital and a doctor confirmed she was not raped. The doctor even carried out an HIV test which was negative. Our investigation on assault is still ongoing and when we are through, we will arraign the suspects.”
According to Linda’s 43-year-old father, the parents of the boys had approached him to settle the case.
He told our correspondent, “They initially proposed that they would settle the matter by paying us N200,000. They later brought it down to N160,000. I was shocked when they came to my house later with N50,000 and threatened that “if we like, we should take it and if don’t want, we should leave it. I told them all settlement should be done at the police station.
“I feel shame in our community now. I am an elder here, but how can I raise my head as a leader in the same community where my first daughter was gang-raped by six boys?” he said.
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