By Kuni Tyessi
The Director General of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Ms. Mary Ekpere-Ita, has called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Muhammed Adamu, to use the Police Trust Fund (PTF) to equip and train police personnel on how to scientifically prove rape cases.
Ekpere-Ita said that the rising cases of rape in the country warranted a paradign shift in the way the police and the judiciary perform their functions.
She made the call while reacting to the deaths of the University of Benin undergraduate, Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa and a student of the Federal College of Animal and Production Technology, Ibadan, Miss. Barakat Bello that were raped and killed, as well as the case of a 12 year old girl who was serially raped by 11 men in Jigawa State, noting that the trust fund would certainly be handy to equip the force.
The director general said: “Aside from worrying data that shows that one in four girls and one in ten boys have experienced sexual violence before the age of 18, recent months have seen the media publishing reports of rape, which in some cases the women were killed after being sexually assaulted.
“I call for improved and effective response from the police, the judiciary, members of the victim’s family and community members.
“Providing support for victims is critical to encouraging them to be bold enough to report sexual assaults. It is time to break the culture of silence around rape.
“Timely report of rape is critical to successfully prosecuting those who take pleasure in sexually assaulting women. Rapists shouldn’t be walking free targeting the next victim. They should be found, prosecuted and sent to jail.
“On a long term basis, I hope that the police will use part of the PTF to equip the police to scientifically prove rape cases and also to train special units across police state commands to professionally handle rape cases.”
She stated that there had been complaints from rape victims and their families of unprofessional treatment by police officers when they reported being raped, adding that the recent increase in rape cases presented an opportunity for states to take further steps to support the police and other security agencies by establishing forensic laboratories where good evidence on rape could be built.
“I equally wish to call on states to domesticate relevant laws such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and the Child Rights Act (CRA) to strengthen the fight against sexual violence.
“I further appeal to states, which have domesticated VAPP and the CRA to invest in providing the structures and services that will give the laws teeth,” she added.