NCWD DG calls for paradigm shift in prosecution of rape cases

The National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), has condemned the increase in cases of rape of women across the country, calling for a paradigm shift in how rape is handled by all actors.

A statement signed in Abuja Thursday by its Director General (DG), Mary Ekpere-Eta ESQ, called for improved and effective response from the police, the judiciary, members of the victim’s family and community members to address the menace.

According to the statement, “aside from worrying data which shows that one in four girls and one in ten boys have experienced sexual violence  before the age of 18, recent months have seen the media publishing reports of rape which in some cases the women were killed after being sexually assaulted.

The statement noted recent cases like that of University of Benin undergraduate Miss Vera Uwaila Omozua, Miss. Barakat Bello of the Federal College of Animal and Production Technology, Ibadan, both of whom were raped and killed, as well as a 12 year old girl serially raped by 11 men in Jigawa state.

“I call for improved and effective response from the police, the judiciary, members of the victim’s family and community members.  Providing support for victims is critical to encouraging them to be bold enough to report sexual assault.

“It is time to break the culture of silence around rape. Timely report of rape is critical to successfully prosecuting those who take pleasure in sexually assaulting women. Rapists shouldn’t be walking free targeting the next victim; they should be found, prosecuted and sent to jail,” said the DG in the statement.

“I commend the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu for sending extra number of detectives to fish out the killers of the Late Vera Uwaila Omozua, I call on him to do same in the case of the Late Barakat Bello.

“On a long term basis, I hope that the police will use part of the Police Trust Fund to equip the police to scientifically prove rape cases and also to train special units across police state commands to professionally handle rape cases,” she added.

The DG further noted complaints from rape victims and their families of being unprofessionally treated by police officers when they reported being raped, pointing to a culture of victim shaming.

She therefore stressed the need for a dedicated unit for sexual crime, saying this will greatly reduce complaints of victim shaming.

“The recent increase in rape cases also present an opportunity for states to take further steps to support the police and other security agencies by building forensic laboratories where good evidence on rape can be built.

“I equally wish to call on states to domesticate relevant laws such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and the Child Rights Act (CRA) to strengthen the fight against sexual violence.

“I further appeal to states which have domesticated VAPP and the CRA to invest in providing the structures and services that give the laws teeth.

“At the home front parents must teach boys the importance of consent in engaging the opposite sex, just as girls are taught not to endanger themselves. The new consensus among experts is that rape is caused only by the presence or rapists and no other reasons,” she stressed.

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