Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Bolaji Dada has called for the enactment of stricter laws backed by stiffer penalties including death sentence and castration as one of drastic measures needed to address the increasing rates of rape cases and other forms of sexual abuses.
The Commissioner also advocated proper parenting, monitoring of social media content exposure, Alleviation of poverty, unbroken marriages among others as panacea to incidences of rape and sexual harrasments.
Mrs. Dada spoke recently at a colloquium organized by the United Action for change, with the theme “contextualization of the rape culture and sexual assault in Nigeria, the search for multidimensional remedy.”
She said that although there are various Laws that ensure offenders do not go unpunished in different parts of the country, ignorance and culture of silence had beclouded the fighting spirit to contend offenders.
She identified poor parenting as one of the root causes of RAPE especially in Nigeria where some parents could be best described as absentee parents who abdicate their roles to helpers and neighbors without considering the effect of such on their wards.
She added that Poverty and illiteracy are two hydra-headed monsters that also contribute to the rate of recorded rape cases in addition to breakdown in marriages which makes the products of such union vulnerable to the society.
All the above, according to the Commissioner makes children to be susceptible and turned them to endangered species that could be easily harassed, attacked and raped by everyone, including biological parents.
She added that “In some cases, drug usage and abuse account for committal of sexual offences. Also, mental ailment which may be a product of drug abuse encourages sexual assault; while some might be occult related depending on situations and circumstances.
” We cannot downplay the role of the internet; particularly social media where all manner of pornography can be watched by hungry youths, paedophiles and socio psychologically maladjusted males with as little as N100 data. This is compounded by corruption of public morals that occurs daily in public spaces”, the Commissioner submitted.
She urged parents to encourage both male and female children and even adult victims to speak out as the culture of silence had greatly enhanced RAPE and SEXUAL ASSAULT in the past.
In her words, “All States of the Federation needs to have a data base on Gender Based Violence; particularly RAPE. The need for increased Forensic training cannot be overemphasized. In addition, I would recommend training and retraining of Obstetrics and Gynecology doctors and newly recruited ones on how to handle issues pertaining to SEXUAL VIOLENCE.”
She disclosed that the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation has carefully laid out plans and programs on how to help rape and sexual assaults survivors, saying that plans are being perfected to speedily complete a Temporary Shelter for victims of Gender Based Violence located at Agidingbi and also provide additional ones to cater for other localities in the State.
Among several other initiatives, the WAPA Commissioner stated that the Ministry intends to invest more in infrastructure e.g. strong internet, web conferencing facilities, digital platform, tool free lines etc. to be complemented by community based programmes, grass root campaign against Domestic Violence and Community Radio services.
She acknowledged the courage and foresight of the organizers of the colloquium, saying that there is no better time than now to put together this type of programme.
She averred that “the rape culture has become a recurring decimal in our country today. According to the Police, between January and May 2020, there are over 717 reported cases of rape in Nigeria, out of which 32 took place in Lagos State.”
Describing the development as unacceptable considering the fact that for every one reported case of RAPE or SEXUAL ASSAULT as the case maybe, there are hundreds that are unreported for certain reasons, the Commissioner lamented that not only are young ladies , elderly Women, underaged girls and even toddlers get raped, some are killed after being raped.
While making reference to recent reported rape cases across some States like Edo, Oyo Benue including the recent incident in Ajah area of Lagos State where a 12 year old girl was gang raped by 4 masked men, the Commissioner maintained that the State of Emergency already declared by the Federal Government against RAPE and all forms of Gender Based Violence; must be supported by Nigerian as a whole.
On efforts being made by the government, Mrs. Dada disclosed that the Lagos State Government through the collaborative efforts of Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, Ministry of Youths and Social Development and other agencies have recorded remarkable achievements in tackling the issue of Gender Based Violence; particularly RAPE.
As part of strategies to address the monster, the Commissioner stated that for instance, the Domestic Violence Unit of WAPA offers daily counseling and psycho- social services as well as rescue intervention services to support survivors in addition to various Advocacy and Sensitization programs organized and disseminated from time to time.
She added that “the Lagos State Government provides shelter to survivors of RAPE and other Gender Based Violence just as the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation also offer Skills Acquisition Training to some victims free of charge the provision of empowerment start up packs.