Stakeholders Advocate Severe Penalties For Rapists – Survey

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Stakeholders have called for the implementation and enforcement of existing laws against rape to tackle the spate of violent crimes and rape across the country.

The call was made in separate interviews in a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the increasing cases of rape in the country.

They identified major causes to include influence of western culture, pornography, drug abuse, a dip in the nation’s social values, and failure of regulatory agencies to contain them.

Mr Tonye Ayama, a Gender Desk Officer, Women and Children Affairs, an NGO, told NAN in Yenagoa that the unregulated use of hard drugs to get high has also be found to be responsible in some cases of rape.

Ayama, also a staff of Bayelsa Ministry of Women Affairs, said that indecent exposure of women in some cases, idealness and the lack of parental control were some of the causes responsible for the rising cases of rape.

He called for urgent enforcement of existing laws in all states to curb the violent act against women in the society.

“The government at all levels, community heads and individuals should work together to create awareness on the dangers of rape.

“Parents should also desist from the wrong use of their children, like sending a girl child to hawk, which can expose them to be victims,’’Ayama said.

Mr Sunday Onu, a counsellor, admitted that the society, religious leaders and government all levels have roles to play to stem the tide of rape in both rural and urban centres.

“There is the need to create awareness on the crime to protect our young women from rapist and drug addicts,’’he said.

However, the Bayelsa Government has responded by establishing a Family Court in a bid to deal decisively with violation of the Child Rights in the state.

The court was mandated to ensure accelerated hearing on cases of child rape, violence against women and children, child trafficking and kidnapping, and child custody disputes.

Mrs Dise Ogbise-Erhisere, Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in Bayelsa, told NAN that the court began sitting after a High Court Judge and Magistrate were appointed by the State Judiciary.

According to Ogbise-Erhisere, the establishment of the court would accelerate prosecution of perpetrators of violence crimes against children and women in the state.

She expressed concern over the non-existence of child care homes and Juvenile homes in the state and urged the government to build them.

According to her, the child care homes will guarantee a better future for victims of rape and sexual abuse.

She also noted that the juvenile homes would ensure that teenagers who have had a rough deal with the law are rehabilitated and integrated into the society.

A Social Scientist and Senior Lecturer, University of Uyo, Dr Aniekan Brown, attributed the rise in cases of rape across the states to the failure of regulatory institutions to guard against its spread.

Brown told NAN in Uyo that religious institutions have vital roles to play in shaping the moral behaviours of citizens, saying that they have failed to live up to expectations.

“The failure of religious institutions like the Church or Mosque to play their role is one and the second fact is that Nigerian social structures had set goals for everybody but had not given equal opportunities for people to meet such goals.”

He advised that those institutions must be up and doing and the society must learn to relax with rules and enhance value system.

“In the past moral instruction was part of the school curriculum but this day the country said no to it. Now, anybody is at liberty to query, “ who made you her moral instructor?’’

Brown also alleged that punitive measures are no longer celebrated in the society, adding that people who commit crimes such as rape are hardly known even when they are punished.

Brown also said that ecological situation in the country, also fuels the crime, as the lack of street lights has greatly contributed to increases in crime rate such as rape.

However, the Akwa Ibom state’s Police Command said the task of dealing with culprits when reported is still a top priority.

DSP Macdon Odiko, the Public Relations Officer of the Command, told NAN that the command had made some arrests and prosecuted some rape cases in the state.

He, however, observed that rape cases were not often reported to the police because the victims do not want to be exposed.

The police spokesman urged victims of rape to always feel bold to report promptly to the law enforcement agencies whenever they were molested.

He assured the public that the command would always protect victims against stigmatisation, adding that victims should report rape cases immediately it occurs for prompt investigation.

He, however, noted that there seems to be a reduction in violent crimes in the state including rape cases due to the proactive measures put in place by the police.

Mr Bassey Anthony, a parent, said that those involved in rape were suffering from complex problems because they could not engage a woman in meaningful discussion.(NAN)

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