By Josephine Agbonkhese
Failure to report immediately as well as the absence of hard evidence as of time of report, are primary reasons most rape victims do not obtain justice in the court of law.
Also, the inability of the family unit to accept rape as a criminal offence and desist from sweeping under the carpet rape cases occurring within the family, is one of the biggest factors fuelling rape in the country.
The above were the submissions of the South West Zonal Commander, National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Daniel Atokolo; and the National Information Officer, United Nations Information Centre, UNIC, Nigeria, Oluseyi Soremekun, respectively, Monday in Lagos at an event organised by Warien Rose Foundation in commemoration of the ongoing 2019 global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
Speaking at the event themed ‘Rape: The World’s Shame Not Without My Consent’, Atokolo said tying an alleged offender to the crime of rape and prosecuting accordingly will be extremely difficult without a report from an immediate medical examination undertaken after reporting to a law enforcement agency.
He said: “For us to be able to tie the offender to the crime, you have to report immediately after the rape incident so that there is medical evidence and report of the security agent. These are needed for prosecution. If not, it will only be your word against that of the accused and justice cannot be guaranteed in such a situation.
“This is the more reason you need to get to NAPTIP on time. We are only phone calls away even though we only have zones right now. No matter where in Nigeria the crime happened, we have teams and partners in all parts of the country and once contacted early, we ensure we follow up to a logical conclusion.”
According to Soremekun who spoke on behalf of the Director, UNIC Nigeria, Roland Kayanja, violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights and that is not acceptable under the Universal Declaration of Human Right.
He said: “Because it is a human right violation, it is a crime and not a “family matter” as people tend to portray it. Majority of sexual rights violators are people known to the family and there is tendency for family members of victims to want to sweep such matters under the carpet because the perpetrator is a family member and they want it to remain within the family.
“Such a behaviour does not factor into it the interest, trauma and healing process of the victim. These are some of the things the United Nations Spotlight Initiative is looking at through its six pillars. These pillars include promotion of laws and policies that will end violence against women; strengthening institutions addressing gender-based violence; interventions around conventions; provision of quality, inclusive and accessible services for victims; availability of credible data to examine trend and the last is advocacy by civil society organisations and women mobilisation.”
Soremekun also called on stakeholders to eschew behaviours that support rape.
Such behaviours, according to him, include: victim blaming, sexual objectification of victims, trivialising rape and the denial of the widespread nature of rape cases.
The event, which had in attendance students and community leaders from Alimosho local government area of Lagos, featured a panel made up of representatives of the Nigerian immigration service, NAPTIP, the Lagos State Ministry for Women Affairs & Poverty Alleviation and also the entertainment industry represented by Muma Gee who also lent her golden voice to the fight against sexual violence and spousal abuse.
According to the President/Founder, Warien Rose Foundation, Barr. Efe Anaughe, the choice of elders and leaders from Alimosho was based on the fact that the locality currently has the highest prevalence of rape cases in the whole of Lagos State.
“Alimosho local government has the highest prevalence of rape cases in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole.
“There are miscreants everywhere, area boys hanging around, Yahoo boys all over, and more. The community leaders are helpless. In fact, the situation is getting to a point where the area boys can just walk into premises and summon out any girl they want to rape.
“Miscreants have taken over the streets. Unfortunately, this is not something government can fight alone; no government anywhere in the world can do this alone. The community has to be empowered to play a great role and that is why we have brought these leaders together.”