By Kuni Tyessi
With the spate of rape cases almost becoming an epidemic, Nigerian women have called on the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, to as a matter of urgency, use part of the Police Trust Fund to equip personnel on how to scientifically prove rape cases.
The Director General of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) Ms. Mary Ekpere-Ita, who made the call in Abuja in a statement, said with the rising cases of rape in the country, the police and judiciary must work towards a paradigm shift.
Reacting to the death of University of Benin undergraduate, Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, Miss. Barakat Bello of the Federal College of Animal and Production Technology, Ibadan, both of whom were raped and killed, as well as a 12 year old girl serially raped by 11 men in Jigawa State, Ekpere-Ita said the trust fund would certainly come in handy to equip the force.
“Aside from worrying data which 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 assault. 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 Police Trust Fund to equip the police to scientifically prove rape cases and also to train special units across police state commands to professionally handle rape cases.
” There has been complaints from rape victims and their families of being unprofessionally treated by police officers when they reported being raped, pointing to a culture of victim shaming. Having a dedicated unit for sexual crime will greatly reduce complaints of victim shaming,” she said.
“In the same vein, she said recent increase in rape cases also presents an opportunity for states to take further steps to support the police and other security agencies by building forensic laboratories where good evidence on rape can 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 give the laws teeth,” she added.