African women lawyers launch campaign against rape

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) of women lawyers has kick-started the ‘Unite Against Rape’ campaign with the aim to put an end to violence against women in Nigeria.

The organisation, the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA), in a press statement on Saturday in Asaba, Delta state, said the campaign was designed to raise public awareness and advocacy to prevent and eradicate rape and all forms of sexual violence happening in homes, offices, schools, and religious centres, among others.

Chairperson AWLA, Awele Ideal, noted that victims of rape were mostly women and girls who either die or suffer depression, discrimination and stigmatisation all through their lives after being assaulted sexually.

She said, “Today should be a sober day for us all because we have realized that if we fail to do something about this crime, it will continue to reoccur and our wives, sisters and daughters will all become endangered species. This is why AWLA is calling on everyone to join us in this urgent campaign to Unite Against Rape.

“So, how do we unite? We can do so by ensuring the full implementation of the laws to the letter. Our Legal Framework that we depend on are the Constitution, Criminal Code, Penal Code, Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, Child’s Rights Law, Administration of Criminal Justice Act and the Fundamental Enforcement Rules, including the regional and international conventions.

“These are the tools that are required for effective prosecution against these perpetrators of sexual violence as well as accelerated hearing at the trials. It also serves as instrument to shame these sex offenders and ensure we get justice for the victims and survivors.”

According to the association, “We can unite by partnering with the law enforcement agencies, government agencies, the judiciary, executive and legislative arms of government, NGOs, the Civil society, the male champions, the grassroots and the entire society. No one should be left behind in this call.

“Similarly, partnering with the Ministry of Education for inclusion of sex education and human rights in the curriculum of schools from primary to tertiary; taking preventive measures like what we are doing now and action to wipe out rape from our world.

“We are amplifying our voices loud and clear to the entire world that the crime of rape, defilement, abduction, domestic violence, sexual harassment and all ramifications of crimes against women and girls will no longer be tolerated.

“We say enough is enough. We, therefore, advocate death penalty, life imprisonment or even castration for these brutes in human skins. Through this call, we are also encouraging our women and girls to speak out.

AWLA further stated that, “We should stop stigmatizing or discriminating against these women when they speak out. They need our support, protection and empathy.

“We implore the government to provide more transient homes or safe shelters for victims and survivors as well as protection, welfare packages and health care packages. They also need to be empowered. We in AWLA have keyed into this program.”

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