” The spate of killings for ritual purposes continues to increase at an alarming rate in Nigeria with women and children as primary and target victims. “
Another dimension of gender-based violence is kidnapping, the use of women’s body parts, and killings for blood-money purposes. Cultural beliefs, harmful prejudice, and zero-value for women continue to amplify the act. Statistics have indicated an increase in trends of missing persons all over the country. Some are found, while the majority are never found and are often victims of ritual killings.
Varying Dynamics for Ritual Killings
The chain and sequence of ritual practices date back and continue to evolve from varying practices and techniques. Nigeria is in an era of vehicle kidnapping, where one automatically loses consciousness and teleports to another region; mysterious coughing and sprouting of blood after picking calls from unknown numbers; the sudden disappearance of the good samaritan after giving alms to street beggars or helping a stranger; scavenging for discarded menstrual pad and natural hair from the salon for ritual use and taking a car lift, where calabash is allegedly placed under the car seat leading to drowsiness, memory loss, and forgetfulness. Also, there are discoveries of forests and houses littered with human body parts, and cellars full of skulls and skeletons; the recent panties-jazz chronicles where both new, used, worn, discarded, and torn underwear are the perfect recipe for rituals; trending groups of occultists known as ‘yahoo plus’, ‘yahoo yahoo’ who use diabolic means to scam their victims and target young girls for rituals. While no one is exempted from being a victim, women and children have higher records of disappearance, missing cases, and deaths from ritual killing.
Despite the level of exposure, civilisation and high proliferation of churches and mosques in different parts of the country, cruel and heinous acts continue to pervade the society. Song themes and lyrics glamourise rituals and the degradation of women. Some hip-hop songs reinforce deviant and criminal behaviour. Films and skits highlight and justify blood money and the use of women for rituals.
For example, Iniobong Umoren was a young woman in her early 20s who shared on Twitter, her need for a job, got a response and was raped, murdered, and buried in a shallow grave. Other women were raped, murdered, and used for ritual killings in their homes and vicinities. There are tons of murder cases that go unresolved. Recently, four teenagers were suspected to have killed their girlfriends for ritual purposes. Both young and old women aren’t spared from being targets of ritual killing. The desecration of women’s bodies exhumed from graveyards is staggering.
The Victim Blame Game
While the question should be, “What can we do to stop this menace?” The question has been, “What are women doing?” “Why are women not careful?” “Why are women following rich men (using them to sustain their wealth) and broke men (using them to gain wealth)?” Why are women placing themselves as targets?.
Consequently, the response to ritual killing has taken a different turn; all collectively pointing accusatory fingers at women. Women are dying from ritual killing, and women are blamed for the reasons behind their killing. “Women push men to do rituals’ ‘ – “A man’s quest for money to satisfy his woman pushes him to use another woman for blood money purposes.” “The society fails men and rates them when they only have money”, “boys are doing yahoo to satisfy girls”, and “rituals are results of pressure from the society.” Many reasons have surfaced online, provoking disheartening conversations and a basis for justifying ritual practices.
“Women should be more careful”, “pray for your life away not to be a victim”, “don’t walk late at night”, “be extra vigilant”, and many more are the advice churned out.
Ritual killing is a menace that has become neglected by government and security agencies. There is little to no concerted effort to eliminate the trend. The law continues to ignore the mystical realm and claims cases are not empirically verifiable except when there is the convergence of the act alongside murder or an attempt with other related crimes.
Whether ritual killings aren’t logical or truly bring riches does not matter. The reality is some people are stuck in the wholeness of mysterious and dark crevices believing sacrificing human blood is the surest route to wealth, safety, and protection. More people are turning to dark and devilish methods to make fast money at any frequency and degree. Women are dying, therefore, proactive and remedial action needs to be taken to eliminate the act. There is a need for the formulation and implementation of policies that protect women from violence and the abolition of cultural beliefs that endanger them. I together with other women share sentiments to not live the rest of our lives in despair and fear of being raped, kidnapped, murdered, and used for rituals. We deserve full exercising of our rights to life and rights to live.