BY Victoria Ojeme
Director-General, National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Mary Ekpere-Eta has condemned the spike in cases of rape of women across the country.
Data obtained shows that one in four girls and one in ten boys have been violated sexually before the age of 18.
Last month, the media had series of rape stories published both in the hard copy and online. In some cases the victims were reportedly killed after being sexually abused.
Recent cases like the University of Benin undergraduate Miss Vera Uwaila Omozua, Miss. Barakat Bello of the Federal College of Animal and Production Technology, Ibadan, both of whom were raped and killed, as well as a 12 year old girl serially raped by 11 men in Jigawa State.
Displeased with the spike in rape cases, NCWD in a statement signed by Director-General, Mary Ekpere-Eta ESQ, opined:
“I call for improved and effective response from the police, the judiciary, members of the victim’s family and community members. Providing support for victims is critical to encouraging them to be bold enough to report sexual assault. It is time to break the culture of silence around rape.
“Timely report of rape is critical to successfully prosecuting those who take pleasure in sexually assaulting women. Rapists shouldn’t be walking free targeting the next victim; they should be found, prosecuted and sent to jail.
She also commend the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu for deploying good number of detectives to fish out the killers of the Late Vera Uwaila Omozua.
“I call on him to do same in the case of the Late Barakat Bello. On a long term basis, I hope that the police will use part of the Police Trust Fund to equip the police to scientifically prove rape cases and also to train special units across police state commands to professionally handle rape cases.
“There has been complaints from rape victims and their families of being unprofessionally treated by police officers when they reported being raped, pointing to a culture of victim shaming. Having a dedicated unit for sexual crime will greatly reduce complaints of victim shaming.
“The recent increase in rape cases also present an opportunity for states to take further steps to support the police and other security agencies by building forensic laboratories where good evidence on rape can be built. I equally wish to call on states to domesticate relevant laws such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and the Child Rights Act (CRA) to strengthen the fight against sexual violence. I further appeal to states which have domesticated VAPP and the CRA to invest in providing the structures and services that give the laws teeth.
“At the home front parents must teach boys the importance of consent in engaging the opposite sex, just as girls are taught not to endanger themselves. The new consensus among experts is that rape is caused only by the presence or rapists and no other reasons.
“ As the lead agency for women empowerment, part of our mandate at the National Centre for Women Development is to collate data on issues affecting women, in this regard the Centre created a Digital Dashboard on Gender Based Violence to contribute to data for creating effective policy on combating violence against women and girls.
“I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for speaking out against the brutal rape and murder of Ms. Omozua The condemnation of the killing of this studious student by the First Lady, Dr. Aisha Buhari and Mr. President’s, intervention and directive to IGP Adamu will show those who think women are helpless, that Nigeria has taken a stronger stand against rape.”