Spike in Rape Cases: Women Journalists, Lawyers, Others Cry Out
By Ralph Madugu
Freda Adler rightly lamented: “Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused. It is she who must prove her good reputation, her mental soundness, and her impeccable propriety.”
While the world’s attention is focused on fighting the coronavirus pandemic, rapists are also busy raping women, girls, minors and even babies. The incidents of rape have become so rampant that they are threatening to become even worse than the effects of the COVID-19. In fact, if this scourge is not nipped on the bud, its effects may soon surpass the ravages of the coronavirus.
Therefore, worried by the rising wave of rape cases in Plateau State and the country at large, the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), in conjunction with the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, Plateau State Chapter, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), recently staged a peaceful march to the Plateau State House of Assembly to push for the adoption and domestication of the relevant laws that will check sexual abuse of women and gender based violence, among other vices being perpetrated against the womenfolk.
Sex and gender based violence have become even more prevalent in recent times due to the lockdown imposed by governments as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers, Plateau State Chapter, Barrister Mary Abah Izam stated, “It is no longer news that there has been a tremendous acceleration in the number of gender-based violence cases, particularly the abuse and rape of women and the defilement of babies and children across the states of Nigeria. With these evil and unpleasant happenings in our communities, our children, girls, and women are no longer safe.”
Presenting its position in a document titled “A call for Prompt Action to Curb the Alarming Increase of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Cases in Nigeria,” to the Plateau State House of Assembly, she disclosed that the clarion call to major key players became necessary so that a more holistic and aggressive approach would be adopted towards tackling the spiraling problem.
She maintained that it was because FIDA was against the evil of incessant abuse and sexual molestation of women and children that it was calling for speedy and decisive action.
Said she: “The government needs to declare a state of emergency on gender-based violence so it is tackled forthwith, most efficiently and effectively across all states of the federation.”
Also speaking separately, representatives of the National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Bar Association, the State Chairman of the NUJ, Paul Jatau, and State Chairperson of NAWOJ, Jennifer Yerimah described the legislature as the arm of government that had ‘the weapon’ to confront the evil and called on the lawmakers to urgently adopt and domesticate all the laws that would check rape and its related evils.
Receiving the groups on behalf of the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Esther Dusu, who is also the Chairperson of the House Committee on Women Affairs, assured that the legislature was working towards ensuring the security of women and children in the state.
While describing women as “blessings and not a curse to society,” the lawmaker explained that members were already working on bills that would safeguard the rights of women and the girl child in addition to the existing laws previously passed by the House.
The document submitted by the protesters contained demands for, among other things, the enactment and review of laws to adequately deal with the menace of gender based-violence, implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, the Child Rights Law and other related laws.
They also advocated for enabling structures and facilities to ensure effective implementation of the various Acts as well as the setting up of an Implementation Committee as provided for by the law.
They also called on the chief judges of other states to designate a ‘Special fast track court’ to handle gender-based violence matters.