Groups call for severe punishment to rapists
By Christiana Gokyo
Rape has been on the increase in the country. Hardly a day passes without reporting a rape case. One could wonder what is actually causing the rapist do that crime.
Some of the survivors of the cases may even be between the ages three, four, five, six and 12 years. Unfortunately, even a three-month-old child could be raped.
The effects of the act are many on a survivor, but the commonest one could be that the survivor may be traumatized.
In this regard, the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Plateau State chapters took a rally recently to the state House of Assembly to seek justice for victims and put an end to the menace.
The groups, while chanting songs of solidarity, had placards with various inscriptions such as: ‘I vow to expose rapists,’ ‘children not sex objects’ and ‘protect women and children’ among others.
Speaking on behalf of the groups, the chairperson of FIDA, Mrs. Mary Izam, who declared rape and gender base violence as an emergency in the state, said that the incessant rape cases in the nation portray a weak judicial system.
While calling on all states of the federation for the implementation of Violence Against Person’s Prohibition Act (VAPP Act), the Child Rights Law and other related laws to curb rape in the state, they called for prompt action to curb the alarming increase of Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases in the country.
They observed that with the increase in the number of gender based violence cases, particularly the abuse and rape of women and the defilement of babies and children across the nation, the issues need urgent attention.
According to the groups, with these evil and unpleasant happenings in various communities, children, girls and women are no longer safe.
They make a clarion call on the government of the nation for more holistic and aggressive approach in tackling the serious challenge across the country.
She said FIDA in the country strongly objects to this evil tread of the incessant abuse and sexual molestation of women and children, demanding a speedy and decisive action against the culprits.
They also called on government to declare a state of emergency on gender base violence so that it would be tackled forthwith and most efficiently and effectively across all the states of the federation.
It said rape and defilement are crimes.
They suggested that if someone commits such a crime, he must be prosecuted and adequately punished for it.
“This must not be compromised nor the settlement of any such cases,” they added.
According to the FIDA chairperson, mandate of her organization is to protect, preserve and promote the rights of the vulnerable in the society, especially the indigent women and children who are often preyed upon.
“We must heed their cry and come to their immediate aid,” stressed her.
She urged government to equip the police who have the responsibility to arrest and investigate these cases to fight this menace diligently to secure conviction that will serve as a deterrent to offenders.
The group also called on the Chief Judges in all the states to designate a special fast track court to handle gender base violence matters, appealing for the establishment of the family court in line with the provision of the Child Rights Act Law and the provision of all machinery to ensure it begins operation speedily.
FIDA also advocated for the establishment of a sexual referral centre, one-stop-shop with Rapid Response Teams attached, comprising the police, doctors, lawyers, social welfare officers and psychologists of evidence for the effective prosecution of perpetrators.
Also, the NAWOJ chairperson, Mrs. Jennifer Yarima said, education should be given to children at early stage to enable them identify rapists and expose them, stressing that there is no excuse for the crime, condemning the act in totality.
On his part, the chairman of NUJ in the state, Mr. Paul Jatau called on media professionals to use their various platforms to enlighten people on the dangers of rape.
Responding, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, RT. Hon. Abok Ayuba said the house would ensure implementation of the VAPP and other existing laws against gender base violence.
He was represented by member representing Jos North West, Hon. Esther Dusu, advocating for national register for perpetrators to serve as deterrent to others.
He commended the groups for lending their voices, promising to cooperate with them for the betterment of the society.
For the past two weeks, there have been sad stories of young girls, babies and women being raped and assaulted across the country.
Plateau State also has its share of such cases with some unreported during the Covid-19 pandemic alone.
Gokyo is our Plateau State correspondent.