By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and Victor Ogunje
A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Wumi Ogunlola, has called for judicial reform that would guarantee life jail for rapists.
Also, the National Association of Nigerian Female Students (NANFS) yesterday protested against rape and sexual violence and harassment frequently meted out to female minors in the society.
Ogunlola who represents Ekiti Central Federal Constituency II condemned the incessant cases of rape and brutality against the girl-child, called on relevant authorities to apply the full weight of the law on perpetrators of rape and other gender-based violence.
The federal lawmaker, in a chat with newsmen in Ado-Ekiti yesterday, said the upsurge in the incidences of rape in the country all pointed to the need for a proactive approach and stringent measures that would serve as deterrent to the culprits..
Ogunlola further cautioned against stigmatisation of victims, adding that the negative physical, psychological and emotional effects of rape on girl-child might impact them for the rest of their lives with attendant consequences on their self-esteem.
She noted that cases of sexual-related offences should be tackled with seriousness and high sense of commitment, adding that unless timely action is taken against the heinous act, rape cases will continue to soar.
“It’s saddening that the menace of rape is fast gaining traction in the country where there is government. These are very ominous times for our young girls because they now live in trepidation over the fear of being raped.
“The scourge is traumatic and could cause physical, psychological and emotional effects on the victim. Even many at times, the people don’t recover from the effects.
“I think it’s high time our government across levels stood up to rescue the girl child from the hydra-headed menace of rape that has constituted itself a threat to humanity.
While lamenting that in spite of the preponderance of existing laws prohibiting gender-based violence, the country continue to witness more cases of rape and defilement, Ogunlola advocated for life imprisonment for perpetrators of the heinous crime.
“The judicial system is so slow that they don’t really take action on rape issues. And the person would be there for longer year without any judgement, hence, posed a threat to the fight against rape and further encourage the menace”, she said.
Ogunlola, however, called on the federal government to overhaul the country legal system and strengthen the existing criminal and penal code to stem the rising wave of increasing incidences of sexual based violence.
Marching through the major streets in Jos, Plateau State, clad in black attires, the students expressed grievances of the ravaging rape of the female child.
The placards they displayed read, ‘How we look is not a reason for raped’, ‘We want to be safe not to be raped’, ‘Speak against female harassment’ among many other inscriptions.
The National President of the association, Comfort Agbo and the Director of Programmes and Research of the association, Nafisat Abdulaziz, while condemning what they referred to as an inhuman act, said that a special government agency should be set up to investigate and prosecute rape offenders, sexual assault and other sexual violence within and outside schools.
They advocated total castration of confirmed rapists of minors and not just a jail sentence, adding that bails should not be granted to rapists and that if found guilty, they should face the law.
They also posited that during the investigation, the accused person should be held in police custody especially where there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the matter.
Agbo argued that, “Hearing of all rape cases should be accelerated and heard in the special court. Rape cases should be publicised and placed on a criminal sex offenders’ list to expose the accused persons. But the victims’ identities should be kept confidential.”
Stressing that a law should prohibit female children from sitting on the laps of men, they also posited that rape laws should be enforced and effective in order to protect the girl-child and bring the culprits to book as quickly as possible.
Responding, Management Committee Chairman of Jos North, Hon. Shehu Bala Usman appreciated their concerns, pointing out that child abuse in any form was unacceptable, adding that their protest was timely.
Usman said that the association had added voice where there was none. “You have given a hope to the hopeless. There are those there that cannot be able to speak, that cannot be able to stand for their rights on being molested sexually. I want to assure you by your coming out, supporting, talking to the world, a lot will be done.”
He disclosed that on Monday, June 22, all the leaders of the legislative arms of local governments would be meeting with the leaders of the Plateau State House of Assembly.
“You can see, you are just on time. I am sure, these are not only your prayers; they are our own prayers too. We support what you presented, not only in Plateau, not only in Nigeria but in the entire world.
“You see, when you are a parent sexually abusing his own daughter. I can’t bring myself together to even agree whether really he is the biological parent of this child. We have people, they are human beings but the heart and the brain are that of not even an animal but something less than animal,” he said.