EU Commits £500m to Fight Rape

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Adedayo Akinwale and Tayo Ogunleye

With the alarming increase in the cases of rape in Nigeria, the European Union (EU) has said it has selected Nigeria as one of the six African countries that will benefit from a £500 million flagship programme to fight the scourge worldwide.

The Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ketil Karlsen, disclosed this Monday at a programme, ‘16 days of activism against gender based violence’.

He stated: “We are working on so many different projects here. We are working on increasing access to girls education; we are supporting reception centres for victims of sexual violence in Yola, in Lagos and other places.

“And now we are launching this £500 million programme, which is a worldwide flagship, it has never been seen before, to make sure we give further impetus to this so important and noble course. Nigeria, I’m happy to say, has been selected as one of the main countries. As a pilot country, one of the six countries in Africa and Nigeria is among them.

“So, we are not just supporting a campaign that takes place for 16 days, we are actually converting words into actions on the ground also, but it takes everybody working together, civil society, federal actors, state actors, communities.”

Karlsen noted that the issue of rape is an important challenge, but pointed out that there is no quick fix for the problem, adding: “If we unify everybody, then there is a real chance of changing the mindset, of changing the culture so that one day as soon as possible we can get rid of this scourge in the society.”

He said the EU is working closely with the federal government, adding that they would soon launch a new initiative called spotlight initiative, while also following up on legislations to give legal bite to the fight against the scourge.

The Founder of Mirabel Centre, Lagos Itoro Eze Ababa, said rape is not a woman issue, adding that her foundation has treated over 80 boys raped by men.

She said that the impact of rape on survivors is damaging, noting that it affects life and lasts for a lifetime.

She lamented that some rape survivors that are not able to deal with it often time attempts suicide, stressing that rape is a crime against everyone.

Asked if rape victims are coming out to report, Anaba said: “When we opened in 2013, the first month we had about 20 survivors, but gradually they started to be confidence in the system. Some months, we have a 100 people that come out to report, some days we have 12 cases. In fact, it’s very rare to stay a full day without having someone coming to report.

“People are beginning to have confidence in the system, believing it can work, believing that we can protect them.”

She explained that once there is a sexual intercourse with any child below the age of 18 either boy or girl, it’s rape, adding that it is not a woman’s issue, it is a societal issue.

“Rape is a crime against the state and state has the responsibility to prosecute. We have a lot of cases now in court, especially for the Lagos State government establishing the family court and special court for rape and sexual violence.

“More cases are coming up and gradually more persecution. This year alone, we have had about six cases belonging to the centre that has been successfully prosecuted.”