Eminent Nigerians at the just concluded cultural roundtable on rape and other gender-based violence organised by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) have advocated for appropriate legislation with a stiffer penalty to rid the society of the heinous crime of rape and return the culture of sanity, high morality and respect for the sanctity of the human person.
The event held at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja, was aimed at raising voices against the culture of rape and other gender-based violence which is gradually becoming another form of a pandemic in the Nigerian society.
The Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, in his welcome address said rape which has not been part of African culture was not only a vicious crime against humanity, but a grievous sin against God.
According to Runsewe, many victims of rape unfortunately end up with unwanted pregnancies resulting in the birth of children without fathers, single parentage and sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.
He, therefore, enjoined well-meaning Nigerians especially parents, religious institutions, key government agencies, gender-based Non-Governmental Organisations to join voices with the National Council for Arts and Culture in the campaign against rape and gender-based violence in society.
Chairman of the occasion, Alhaji Idi Farouk, former Director-General, National Orientation Agency, said the issue of rape was grave and should be spotlighted for national discourse as it is alien to Nigerian culture.
Alhaji Farouk decried the law which allows only the Nigerian Police to prosecute cases of rape which often did not lead to proper convictions owing to the cumbersome process of litigation.
He opined that apart from granting victims of rape and other gender-based violence the right to engage their personal lawyers, government should put in place modalities to assists victims on issues of post-rape trauma.
The National President of the National Council for Women Societies, Dr. Gloria Shoda, in her keynote address regretted that there has been a drastic increase in cases of rape and gender-based violence in Nigeria in recent times.
She noted that in addition to being raped, young girls and women who fall victims were being murdered while infants were being defiled by fathers, uncles and neighbours on a daily basis as indicated by statistics.
The NCWS boss therefore commended the leadership of the National Council for Arts and Culture for providing a veritable platform to give voice to the voiceless.
She further lamented that if the trend was not checked, it had a tendency of becoming cancerous, infectious and will endanger the future generation, calling for proper legislation that will place severe punishment for perpetrators of this dastardly and treacherous act.
Participants at the occasion were presented with copies of a book titled ‘Raising Voices against the Culture of Rape in the Nigerian Society’, authored by the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe.
The speakers drawn from all walks of life included Mr. ECS Ojukwu, Commissioner of Police (Rtd); Dorothy Njemanze, a social crusader; Adaora Onyechere, CEO, WeWe Network Afrique; Rachael Andrew Adejo, National President, FIDA; Shola Oshunkeye, Publisher, Crest Magazine and Queen Onyekachi Atulomah, SSA to Abia State governor.
The occasion drew participation from critical stakeholders in the Arts and Culture Industry, Non-Governmental Organisations and related government agencies.