Rebecca Ejifoma
With the increase in rape of babies and adolescents in Alimosho and Kosofe Local Government Areas of Lagos State, Project Alert and Mirabel Assault Centre have called on governments at all levels to create a concrete national plan backed up with finance and retraining of police force.
“We want to close down. We need to move to other things. Governors, communities, police, parents should put hands together and eradicate infant and adolescent sexual abuse,” the CEO, Project Alert on Violence against Women, Mrs. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, decried.
She made the call at the media launch of the revised edition of ‘Sexual Violence in Nigeria: A Silent Epidemic’. Her statement clearly implies that if the NGO shuts down, that means there is no more sexual abuse of babies, adolescents and adults; hence, no cause for such NGO’s existence.
She noted, however, that the report of the book, which was first published in 2013, was an analysis of issues needed in updating the report. “It was an analysis of 155 cases of sexual abuse reported across the country to NGOs and the National Human Rights Commission over a period of one year. Last year (2016), we decided to revise and update it by including very important statistics gotten from the Mirabel Centre, the first sexual assault referral centre set up by Partnership for Justice (an NGO) with support from the Justice for All Project (J4A) of the UK Department for International Development, DFID.
The CEO decried that the cost of justice has made most parents of rape victims back out. Adding that in 2016, they recorded 1,110 cases in Lagos State alone. “Because the data was alarming to us, we packed and analysed the data across gender, ages, locations and forms of the abuse.
“Of the 1,110 cases last year, 98 per cent were females. Now, of 155 cases recorded from January 2017 till date, 69 were toddlers (children from zero to 17 years), while in 2013, our analysis of 155 cases revealed that 69 per cent were children between ages 0- 17; an analysis of 1,110 cases from studies have shown that these sexual offenders are looking for children not adults.”
And according to Mirabel Centre, 77 per cent were between 0-17 age group; thus an increase by eight per cent. Its findings from analysis done across local government areas in Lagos revealed that most of the cases (213 or 19 per cent) occurred in Alimosho Local Government Area. Ifako-Ijaiye came second with 136 (12 per cent). Third and fourth were Kosofe and Agege Local Government Areas with 11 per cent each respectively.
Speaking at the media presentation, Centre Manager for Mirabel, Mrs. Juliet Olumuyiwa-Rufai described the country’s mental health as a broken one. “Our mental health in Nigeria is broken with this issue of abusing babies, teenagers and women. All those locations mentioned have young men who are idle; hence always home. The statistics is just for Lagos not nationwide. This is a crisis. Yet we all pretend like it doesn’t exist.”