JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF RAPE AND POLICE BRUTALITY
* There can be no capitalism without racism, women’s oppression and police/army brutality
*Build a movement to fight for system change and a Socialist Nigeria
Democratic Socialist Movement, Abuja Chapter, leaflet
Recently, Nigeria has seen an increase in the cases of rape. In a way, alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a rape epidemic. For instance, on May 27, 2020, Miss Uwa Omozuwa, a student of University of Benin had her life untimely cut short after she was raped while reading in a church. In similar manner, Barakat Bello was also killed in the process of resisting rape. These are just few out of many numerous cases that have been reported recently and many others are unreported. A survey conducted by NOIPolls in July 2019 suggested that up to one in every three girls living in Nigeria could have experienced at least one form of sexual assault by the time they reach age 25 (BBC online news, 10/6/2020).
How to Fight the Rape Epidemic
For us in the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), the blame for this barbarism must be placed at the door-step of the Nigerian government and the system of capitalism that has institutionalized female oppression. We call for the stiffest punishment for the criminals after a thorough investigation and trial in the courts. Unfortunately, many victims of rape and sexual harassment seldom get justice. The capitalist court is mostly prejudiced against women and rape victims. This movement must ensure that we fight to get justice for Uwa, Barakat and others.
The DSM calls for special tribunals under the oversight control of trade unions and social movements to handle rape and sexual assault cases. We must also demand funding for special departments at police stations with trained staff and post-traumatic stress psychological supports for victims. This also must be under the democratic control of trade unions, social movements and community people.
Capitalism is guilty
The rape epidemic is coming on the heels of report of sex-for-marks scandal in the universities about a year ago which also sparked outrage. This shows that rape culture goes far deep into the very fabric of capitalist society. This is not surprising at all. Rape is an inevitable product of a system that reinforces and institutionalizes the oppression of women.
Despite significant progress made in the past decades which has seen more women working, pursuing education and careers and even becoming bread winners of their families, the perception of the woman as a property of the man has not changed from what it was centuries back. Even President Buhari once said the place of his wife is in the kitchen and the “other room”. Such backward ideas reinforces rape culture as it presents women as object of a man’s pleasure to use as he deems fit.
On the other hand, capitalism is a system based on the exploitation of workers for the profit of a tiny few. While inheriting women oppression from previous class societies, capitalism has institutionalized it to reinforce its rule. This it does through women’s free labour expended in the home caring for children, preparing meals, laundry, acre for aged parents and sick relatives etc. form part of the unpaid social work that the system avoids paying for. If these activities were to be socialized, then the capitalist elite would have to give up parts of its profit.
Women’s double oppression
A woman does not only suffer oppression for being a woman or girl. Under capitalism, a woman is also oppressed for being a member of the working class. This is what socialists mean when we say women suffer double oppression. This can be briefly explained by the daily life of women and the girl-child. Because of poverty, the girl child is the least likely to go to school or finish school. Anti-poor policies of education commercialization/underfunding and the privatization of health care affect women and girls in ways different from their male counterparts.
In addition, because cost of healthcare is unaffordable for the working and poor masses, many women have died during childbirth. In the workplace, women are often paid them less than men for doing the same job alongside other anti-labour practices. In the marketing departments of many banks and financial houses, women have been turned to official prostitutes with impossible targets to help these financial institutions raise money from customers. This is why despite any crocodile tears that they may shed; none of the capitalist parties or their representatives are truly ready to stand for the liberation of women. Doing so would mean forfeiting the system of capitalism which they defend.
Police brutality – We Can’t Breathe!
In the same vein, we of the Democratic Socialist Movement, frown at the rampant cases of brutality by security operatives. For us, this is a reflection of the deepened chaos in our society. While the working masses are still confronted with the economic hardship from the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and the anti-poor economic policies of the Buhari/APC regime, the brutality suffered in the hands of security operatives continue to add insult to injury. Just recently, Tina Ezekwe, a 16 year old school girl was gunned down by the bullet of a trigger happy policeman. Please recall that it was in this similar manner that Alex Ogbu, an activist and journalist, was shot dead by members of the Nigerian police force attached to the Utako division, Abuja. This happened when he was performing his duty at a protest of the Shiites in Abuja on January 21. Police brutality is one of the many ugly daily realities of Nigeria.
We add our voice to demand justice for all victims of police killing and brutality here in Nigeria and across the world. The killing of George Floyd by the U.S police has led to widespread global protests. Ordinary people, cutting across races, in all 50 States of the United State marched demanding justice and end to racism. There are also protests in over 18 other countries! While this is a reflection that we are living in a barbaric world, where profit of the few elites is more valued than lives of the mass majority, it also gives a glimpse of the international solidarity of the working people to fight for a better society
We demand a police with the right to organize as a union. Such police force must be democratically controlled by members of the police and the community However, while the establishment of a police union may help the police rank and file to win some improvement in their pay and conditions, any prospect of ending police brutality will require nothing short of the overthrow of the repressive capitalist state and its repressive apparatus. This is because the police, army and other security agencies are instruments of class oppression. No reform can change this real nature of the police. Nonetheless, during periods of great upsurges like revolutions, the lower ranks of the police and army can come to the side of the working class and poor masses.
For a Socialist Nigeria
The rape epidemic and rising cases of police brutality shows once again why we need to organize and build movements to fightback. Without ending the system of capitalism, that has subjected black people in U.S to mass penury, we cannot end racism. The same goes for rape and police brutality. This does not mean struggles cannot win demands, but that the roots of this barbarism will still remain if the system nurturing them is not defeated.
We also call on the labour movement, NLC, TUC, ULC, to equally raise their voice against these issues and fight for safe environment for working people and the oppressed at workplaces and the communities. The terrible realities under capitalism, have shown lucidly that capitalism is incapable of moving society from barbarism. We need to struggle for a socialist society where the means of production can be democratically managed and owned by the working people for the advancement of society.
(1) Justice for all victims of rape, sexual assault, police brutality and racism. Adequate compensation to all victims and families
(2) Try and jail all rapists, sexual offenders and killer police
(3) Special tribunals under the control of trade unions and social movements to try rape and sexual assault cases
(4) Provision of free public education and health care under workers democratic control and management
(5) For a police union, improvement in officers pay and conditions and democratic control of police operations by community people
(6) An end to all anti-poor capitalist policies
(7) Nationalization of key sectors of the economy under workers control and management
(8) A mass workers party with socialist programmes. Join the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN)
(9) Overthrow of capitalism and enthronement of a workers and poor people’s government armed with a socialist programme
JOIN THE DSM
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) is a revolutionary socialist organization. We believe that Nigeria’s resources, if judiciously used under democratic workers control, are enough to better the lives of the mass majority. If you are also dissatisfied with the terrible rate of rape, police brutality, unemployment and poverty and interested in a fight-back, join us now!