Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, has disclosed that a total of 3,600 rape cases were reported nationwide during the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
This is just as the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, stated that the Senate recent passage of the sexual harassment bill was to protect Nigerian women’s rights.
Tallen, who stated this while on a courtesy visit to the deputy Senate president yesterday evening, revealed that during the COVID-19 induced lockdown, each state recorded not less than 100 cases of rape.
She condemned the upsurge in rape cases nationwide, adding that reports she received from Commissioners of Women Affairs across the 36 states of the federation revealed the upsurge in the number of rape cases nationwide during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The minister also applauded the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) for declaring a state of emergency on sexual and gender-based violence.
Tallen also called for more legislation to protect the girl-child and women, while commending Omo-Agege for sponsoring the anti-social harassment bill, and noted that by this development, lawmakers have written their names in gold.
Quoting from a letter dated July 7, 2020, signed by Comfort Lamptey, the United Nations Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Tallen noted that “UN Women stand ready to support federal and state governments’ efforts to implement this important legislation in the period ahead; work closely with women’s constituencies, students, educational institutions and other relevant stakeholders.”
Omo-Agege had told his visitor that the Senate passed the Sexual Harassment Bill in furtherance of its Legislative Agenda, which seeks the protection of women’s rights.
He noted that when signed into law, it would not only send a strong signal to those who may want to abuse women but ensure that students are not at the mercy of ‘sexual predators’.
Omo-Agege commended his colleagues for looking beyond cultural, ethnic and religious differences to approve the bill.
He also called on the minister and her entourage to equally reach out to the House of Representatives to immediately concur to the bill.