The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, has called for stringent penalties against sexual offenders “to curb the scourge of rape and all forms of abuse against women and children.”
Tallen made the call during sensitisation and capacity building training for journalists as part of the 16 Days Activism Against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Abuja on Wednesday.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2019 commemoration of the global campaign has “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stand against Rape” as its theme.
The minister, who was represented by Mrs Funke Oladipo, the Director, Women and Gender Department in the ministry, said stiffer penalties would serve as deterrent to others and would help to curb GBV.
She stressed the role of stakeholders in addressing the menace, adding that statistics indicted that at least two million Nigerian girls experience sexual abuse
annually and that only 28 per cent of such cases were reported, out of which, only 12 were convicted.
She said “I, therefore, call on our law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to be more responsive in their prosecutions, ruling and passing judgment on perpetrators of GBV.
“We need stiffer penalties against sexual offenders, indeed at our last Council on Women Affairs meeting, members agreed on castration or death penalty without option of fine for perpetrators of rape.
“I urge the media to report issues affecting women, children, the vulnerable and persons living with disabilities.”
Mr Martins Mary-Falana, an Independent Consultant and Facilitator, “Kids and Teen Resource Centre’, while presenting a paper
on “Overview of Rape and GBV in Nigeria’’, analysed the physical, psychological and emotional trauma of rape and sexual violence on victims.
Mary-Falana stressed the need to stop stereotyping women, gender bias, discrimination, poverty, inequality, weakness of laws, moral degradation and low education as some of the factors that contribute to GBV.
He encouraged parents to communicate more with their children, by encouraging them to speak out without any fear of stigmatisation or abuse, and to avoid exposing them to vulnerable positions.
Participants at the training included journalists from the print, television, radio and social media platforms.
The FCT Chairperson of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Ms Stella Okoh-Esene, called on the media to sustain the campaign and follow-up cases of GBV.
Similarly, Mrs Dorcas Jonah, Senior Editor with NAN, said she had gained more knowledge on the role of the media in educating the public on GBV, as well as preventive measures to take to curb the menace.