The Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mr. Lola Akande, has decried the spate of sexual violence in the country, saying that perpetrators can only be deterred by maximum punishment. And that life imprisonment may also be considered for perpetrators when found guilty by the court of law.
Addressing a group of protestors under the aegis of Alliance Against Domestic Violence and Abuse (AADVA) at the Governor’s Office, Alausa-Ikeja, recently, the commissioner noted that the incidence of rape against young girls and babies in the society has risen to an embarrassing level. And that the ugly tide can be tamed through legislative process that will further strengthen the legal justice process in bringing rapists to book.
The commissioner who noted that the Lagos State Government has several programmes as well as established centres such Mirabel Centre where cases of rape and sexual assaults are handled, said government cannot do it alone. The commissioner who blamed the rising case of sexual violence on the decay in the moral fabric of the society, called on parents to be alive to their duties. “Parents should give their children home training. We are lacking that now in our society. We don’t follow the norms of the society again. It is a shame,” she said.
Calling on the civil society organisations as well as non-governmental organisations to join force with the government in its effort to curb sexual violence in the state, Akande urged them to move a Bill to the State House of Assembly that would not only criminalise rape but for offenders to go for life imprisonment.
“Let us have a Bill sent to the House of Assembly. If kidnapping attracts the punishment of 21 years imprisonment, then that is not enough for rape. Why not life imprisonment for rape? If one person is used as an examplet and it is shown to the whole world, then they will sit up. When this happens, you will realise that parents who ordinarily don’t have time for their children will begin to call their children to order.
“When you see a suspicious movement, call your neighbour. Don’t say it is not your business, it is your business. Let us nip it in the bud. Government cannot do everything and the Lagos State Government is doing all it can to ensure that we stem the tide,” Akande said.
In a statement signed by Laila St. Matthew-Daniel and Josephine Effa-Chukwuma on behalf of AADVA, the group commended the Lagos State Government for being responsive to the issue of sexual violence in the state. The group however said a lot needs to be done in the area of response by the police, lack of diligent investigation and prosecution of cases, delay in court, inadequate sexual assault centres and lack of a good fostering system for children abused by one or both parents.
Presenting their demands, the group requested for “prompt professional response by the police, devoid of shaming and trivialising; diligent investigations and prosecution of offenders by the Police and the officials of the state Ministry of Justice, life skills development modules into the curricula of schools to equip the young children with values and morals, totally different from technical skills,” it said.
Calling on all well-meaning Nigerians to join in the fight against rape, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde said that anybody can be a victim of rape. According to Ogunde, for the war to be won, there is need to find out the root cause of rape in the country. “We need to know why it did occur. Is it because of the influence of drugs? Is it because our education is not providing them with the stability that will make them know that you don’t rape. We also need to addressed the reason why it has continued. Is it because people get away with it? Is it because rapist are not given maximum punishment,” she wondered.