Ensuring increased war against rape in Nigeria

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By Dada Ahmed

Rape, the four-letter word, is another global pandermic phenomenon eating deep into the social and economic fabrics of the society, apart from the six months old COVID-19 unabatedly killing thousands of people all over the world, including Nigeria.

As the global media platforms, particularly the social media, continue to be awashed with the devastating effects of Coronavirus in all ramifications, rape pandermic in Nigeria in recent days has also risen to a frightening proportion eliciting swift reactions from many strata of the country.

Briefing journalists in Abuja after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari,the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, disclosed that the police received over 700 cases of rape in the country between January and May in 2020.

Adamu, who said the police had arrested many suspects in connection with rape incidence and charged some to court face justice, traced the negative development to lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus.

Hajia Khadija Mamman, a kano-based mother and a working class  lady laments”,this rape of a thing is becoming alarming, untill there is a strong measure against the offenders, the situation will get out of control.”

As this piece was about to be publiished,  the nation was hit by another rape story of  of a student ofthe Oke Ogun Polytechnic, allegedly raped and murdered in Oyo state on Saturday.

According to DAILY POST, the victim, Grace Oshiagwu, was raped and murdered within a church mission building, located at Idi-Ori, Sasa-Ojoo, in Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State on Saturday.

The Publicelations Officer of the Oyo State Police Command, Mr. Olugbenga Fadeyi, confirmed the killing, according to the tabloid.

Simply put, rape is when sexual intercourse is non-consensual that is, the victim does not agree to such action. In other words, it is an illegal proces where by a person forces another person to have sex against his or her will.
Though legendary in the list of crime in Nigeria, experience has shown that the for the past two weeks, Nigerians have been confronted with instances where by some students or girls as young as seventeen years have been raped and in extreme cases, killed in process.

survivors say they are now grappling with the reality of social stigmatisation as well as being forced to cope with psychological trauma resulting from the inhuman action hoisted on them by rapists.

Irked by the rising wave of rape various members of the strata of the society, particularly by the human rights activists, have risen to the challenge posed by rapists by demonstrating to denounce such ill the country.

The Sun newspaper is not left out in the gamut of the public outburst that greeted increased rape in Nigeria in the editorial it titled: “Justice for Omozuwa, others”.
The paper re-echoed the national outrage that greeted the rape and murder of a 100-level student of the University of Benin inside a church in Benin City penultimate week.

The tabloid chronicled instances of tape in the country in recent time thus: “The outcry was yet to die down when another heinous rape occurred in Ibadan, Oyo State. Like the Benin incident, the rapists in Ibadan also killed their victim.

 

The two recent tragedies represent the rising violation of women and the need for stringent measures to curb the menace.

The Benin incident is particularly heart-rending. Miss Uwaila Omozuwa had gone to read at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Miracle Sanctuary, Mega Parish, in the Ikpoba Hill area of Benin, in Edo State.Ordinarily, the church premises should offer sanctuary to anybody who visits there to read. But the moral decadence in our society has gone so bad that some people no longer respect the sanctity of such places. It was on the premises of God that Omozuwa’s assailants struck, raped and killed her.

“Similarly, some daredevil hoodlums attacked 18-year-old Miss Barakat Bello at her home in Ibadan last week. Miss Bello, a member of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, was a student of the Federal College of Animal and Production Technology, Apata, Ibadan. Her assailants did not only rape her, they also hacked her to death.

“Little girls are also victims of this dastardly phenomenon. Last week, a retired army captain reportedly defiled his four-year-old niece in Calabar, Cross River State. It would have gone unnoticed but for the two-year-old brother of the victim who saw what happened and innocently reported to their mother how the man, who is in his 60s, fingered the child and broke her hymen in the process. The man reportedly claimed he was under the influence of alcohol.”

It noted that” although there were increasing reports of rape cases in Nigeria, there was no reliable data to back up any claim. Last year, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen, claimed that two million Nigerians were raped every year. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), however, estimated that 2, 279 cases of rape and indecent assault were recorded by the police in Nigeria in 2017.”

“Reinforcing the world consciouness to the activities of rapists, globally experts estimated that about 35 per cent of women had experienced one form of sexual harassment or the other in their lifetime.

” South Africa happens to be one of the countries with the highest rate of rape in the world. In 2018/2019, the country reportedly recorded 41, 583 cases of rape and 52, 420 cases of sexual offences generally. In the United States, there are reportedly over 400, 000 victims of rape and sexual assault every year.”

The paper identified one of the causes of rape to sexual pervasion, adding that those that indulged in such crime derived joy in seeing their victim suffer and cry for help while for some others, the aim is to exert revenge against perceived wrongs of the victims.

According to SUN, whatever might be the case, rape showed the bestial nature of man.”

Even in the animal kingdom, certain male species sometimes woo their females before having any intimate affair. It is, therefore, worrisome that some men who are supposedly superior beings behave worse than animals. The mental state of such people needs to be thoroughly examined, ” the paper said.

The paper continues: “The trauma victims of rape go through is unimaginable. Most times, they lack the courage to report to the police because hardly do they find justice at the police stations. In the US, about 97 per cent of rapists go unpunished. In the United Kingdom, official statistics indicate that only about 15 per cent of victims of sexual assault report to the police.

“Victims are sometimes compelled to hide their plight because of the fear of reprisals and the stigma associated with being raped. For those who eventually get pregnant out of such cases, the psychological trauma of having to bear a child of rape is better imagined.

“Besides, the laws meant to deter people from committing sexual offences are not strictly enforced. Some of the laws against rape in Nigeria include the Criminal Code, which is applicable in all Southern states; the Penal Code applicable in all Northern states and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP Act), a federal law that has only been domesticated in a few states. Under the Criminal Code of Nigeria (Section 358), a rapist is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without caning. There is every need to strictly enforce this law.

Meanwhile, a national survey by WARIF, an online publication, showed that one in four females reported experiencing sexual violence in childhood with approximately 70 per cent reporting more than one incident of sexual violence as far back as 2014.

The online further revealed that 24.8 per cent of females, ages 18 to 24, experienced sexual abuse prior to age 18 of which 5.0 per cent sought help, with only 3.5 per cent receiving any services.

As Nigerians await the reality of total war against the rapists and put them they belong, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,SAN,said the Federal Government is not unmindful of the outrage causede by the activities of rapists in the country.

Toward this end he said that his office had taken some steps to stem the tide of gender-based violent and sexual assault.

He said:”The attention of the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the
Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to the prevalent and rising incidence of rape and sexual assault in the country.

Malami noted with concern that incidents of rape cases in the country had increased dramatically in the last few weeks, resulting in the brutal murder of some victims, a development that had sparked outrage in the country and beyond.

He said: “As a people-oriented government that listens to the yearnings and aspirations of its citizen, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Justice, has identified with call for national response against rape and sexual assault in the country.

“In fulfillment of the Ministry’s mandate and its determination to urgently address this heinous crime, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will see to
the following:

“The immediate inauguration of an Inter-Ministerial Gender Based Violence Management Committee that will comprise of functional and skilled officers drawn from and not limited to, the following:

“Federal Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development programme.
Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Legal Aid Council, Nigerian Police Force and Civil Society Organisations, among others.

“The Committee will be charged to proffer a synchronized approach to address all forms of violence against women and children in the country.

“Reviewing all the existing laws with a view to proposing to the National Assembly, necessary legislative changes to ensure that the offences of rape and child defilement are dealt with in consonance with international best practices.

“Providing a comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure that victims and survivors of sexual offences are not subjected to further stigmatization and trauma by maintaining a Sexual Assault.

“Referral Centre which will be domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Justice Headquarters .The Centre will respond to immediate Gender-Based Violence related issues and will continue to provide rapid and comprehensive response through prosecution of all forms of violenceagainst women and children.

“Speedy processing of stalled and pending cases of rape and child defilement that got delayed due to closure of courts and government institutions during the COVID -19 lockdown period.

“Reaffirming state policy of opposing bail and rejecting plea bargain proposals from perpetrators of rape and child defilement, and to also ensure that the Federal Government’s policy of ensuring that convicted sex offenders do not benefit from power of prerogative of mercy remains in force.

“The Federal Ministry of Justice will, in driving these processes bring together the 36 State’s Attorneys General to consider effective collaborative support to stem the growing tide of rape and sexual assault.”

The Minister also intimated Nigerians that a meeting of the stakeholders, including the States’ Attorneys-General would be carried out through a scheduled virtual conference in due course.

Besides public solution to rape cases in the country, the consensus opinion lies in the fact that, parents, parents, educational institutions, fath-based organizations and youths organizations also have to wait up to their responsibility of ensuring that rape joins the league crime of minimal impact on the psyche of the people and the society.

“Parents form the first contact group youths experienced before moving into other segments of the society, therefore parents are duty bound to inculcate in children, the right values and culture and training that abhor rape and other henious crimes.

” They should tame the conduct of their children and keenly watch the kind of friendship or company they keep in order not to fall into the hands of bad group.

“Our clerics also have patrotic duty to do by preaching not only peace and kingdom of heaven but use their special moral tone in their chosen work of God to preach the right attitude in the congregation, particularly the youths.

“Various youth organisations must emphasise, in their members, who are the leaders of tomorrow, the need to shun rape and other crimes,” a Mr Mahmud Issa, a retired headmaster urged.

“The content managers of various films being shown to the audience, particularly the youths, should check content of such media materials and make sure that teach moral and not violence.

“Films and music that have violent contents are capable of luring youths to take to crime such as rape because they are at the stage of copy and practicalise media country they view,”Hajia Khadija Mohammed, a mother of 5 explained.

From all indications, rape is a crime that should not be left to continue rearing its ugly head on innocent members of the public, not to talking of leaving the victims with tale stories.

It is a crime surely against humanity and should be tackled with the needed zeal by all and sundry ; both the government, non governmental organisations as well as the citizenry.

Doing that will breed peace and drastic reduction in crimes in Nigeria and reinforce peoples’ belief in good governance and committed followership.

Ahmed is a media consultant and the publisher of Duaglobalnews.

ahmeddada403@yahoo.com

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