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Rape: Don urges states to domesticate sexual, gender-based violence laws

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Prof. Funmi Bammeke, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos, on Tuesday called on states to domesticate all gender-based and sexual violence laws in Nigeria.

Bammeke made the call during a webinar organised by the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC).

The theme of the webinar was: “Breaking the Jinx: Reflections on the Culture of Silence and the Rising Wave of Sexual Violence in Nigeria”.

Bammeke commended government for its efforts in declaring state of emergency on cases of sexual violence and opening of sex offenders registers, adding that more proactive steps could be taken.

She said that the Violence Against Persons  Prohibition Act of 2015, the Child Rights Act and other relevant legislations should be domesticated to properly address the increasing cases of rape and gender based violence in Nigeria.

According to her, this is necessary to discourage the culture of silence in abused victims and promote lasting peace in the society.

“Aside this, there should be a dedicated fund for sexual and gender-based violence cases in the country because litigation is usually expensive and most victims do not have the funding to take care of the issue.

“ There is equally need to train law enforcement officers, judicial, health, and all relevant personnel to be gender sensitive and understand how to respond to sexual and gender based violence cases.

“I am aware that the Nigeria Police has trained some of its officers but the question is how many benefited, the training should go round,’’ she said.

Bammeke urged government to also render some public enlightenment on what constituted gender-based violence, sexual violence and rape.

She said that the enlightenment should also entail the short and long term dangers of sexual and gender- based violence, myth of sexual violence ad well as negative social norms that promote violence.

Also, it should incorporate measures to prevent sexual and gender based- violence and more.

“ Everyone has roles to play, institutions, families and the society at large; we should encourage victims to speak out and eradicate the culture of silence,” she said.

Bammeke advised parents to desist from entrusting their wards with neighbours as nobody should be trusted in cases of rape and sexual violence.

Earlier, the convener of the webinar, Mrs Osaro Osayande, a Director overseeing the office of CBAAC Director-General, urged relevant stakeholders to join forces on issues of sexual violence and rape.

Osayande said that immediate intervention was needed to advance human rights and the common values of humanity enshrined in the African culture.

“CBAAC is lending its voice against sexual violence and the culture of silence in our society.

“All hands must be on deck to end these horrible abuses and the impunity that allowed human rights violation to thrive.

“ Sexual violence is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world and one of the greatest threats to lasting peace and development.

“Regrettably, it is one of the least prosecuted crimes in the world which has wrecked tremendous havoc in our society as it denigrate the public health and mental wellbeing of its victims.

“Also hurting their dreams and aspirations often times resulting in death,” she said.

Osayande said that this was the best time for such discourse  because if left unaddressed, sexual violence could pose more serious threats to the peace and security of the nation, going by the sporadic rise in recent rape cases in Nigeria.

“ Nigeria has recorded 717 rape cases with several deaths in the last six months;  this is a sad commentary.

“ With continuous increase in media attention on sexual violence, on social media platforms, several victims have opened up to recount their experiences of rape, sexual harassment, intimidation and assaults.

“ This has given the campaign against sexual violence a focus, there is need to also acknowledge the fact that many victims are not ready to disclose their experiences due to several factors.

“ This is the key reason the culture of silence must be addressed,” she said.

Also, Prof. Olatunde Babawale, a former Director-General of CBAAC, suggested the revival of ancient cultural practice which entailed labeling rape cases as a taboo.

According to him, it will help in putting a stop to the menace in the society.

He said that diligent prosecution of rape cases must be encouraged while adopting the culture of naming and shaming the perpetrators of rape and all other sexual and gender based violence cases.

“ The issue of ridicule must be taken seriously, ridicule as a tool of traditional society, there are ways in which people use songs to shame those who commit  rape while they desist from such act.

” In the traditional setting, people still value their names, when an individual commits rape and he is made to walk naked within the community, this would send good signals to perpetrators of such crimes,” he said.

PTB/

Edited By: Vivian Ihechu/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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