Posted by News Express | 12 December 2020 | 250 times
The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme of the British Council has called for an effective justice system to help in curbing the menace of rape and sexual assault which is on the increase.
Its National Programme Manager, Mr. Danladi Plang, made the call at the 6th National Conference of the Sexual Assaults Referral Centers (SARCs) and International Human Rights Day held in Abuja from December 9-10, 2020, organised by ROLAC Programme of the British Council and funded by the European Union.
He said rape victims most times do not want to report rape cases to security personnel, as they sometimes are made jest of resulting to underreporting of sexual assault cases.
He cited that the cases limiting the number of victims who seek help for sexual assault include fear of persecution, lack of prosecution of offenders, underreporting of cases and the culture of stigma on victims.
According to him, there are many gaps but noted that one of the key solutions is to ensure reporting of cases while expressing concerns that sexual assault is still underreported. He insisted that “there are many cases out there that are not being reported and the question is why, this is because when they report they do not get the support and services they need. The type of response they get do not encourage them to go back to make report.”
The other factor, he said, is prosecution because if people are not prosecuted for wrong doing it breeds impunity. This is because “when one person does something and no measure is taken another will also partake as nothing will be done.”
“So we need to improve in investigation and prosecution and with their name on the register to name and shame, it will reduce the refusal of people to report,” Plang added.
He explained that “the culture of stigma is also one major factor as people think that it is the fault of the woman that is being raped, that if she has not placed herself in that position she will not have been raped but we know that even toddlers and grandmothers have been raped, so which position do you want them to put themselves so that they will not be raped?”
Speaking further, the programme manager stated the Issue of rape could be a psychological problem adding that in other climes one of the things practiced is to carry out an evaluation of the psychological position of the person to understand why he has carried such an act. He said the findings also focused on why they do what they do, the pedophiles, as well as those that rape people with mental illness, as they believe that it will give them some powers.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on his part, appraised SARC for the essential service they render as people have started to trust and believe in the referral centers and as such more people are tending their experience.
Osinbajo said that as long as people have access to justice they can report, while clarifying that increase in reporting does not necessarily mean increase in crime. According to him, it could mean an increase in trust and believe and that appropriate investigative actions will be taken.
“We must all save time to create safe spaces. Support services need to be available not only in crisis, the SARC centres will go a long way in curbing the menace rape as we can try to avoid the assault from happening in the first place by creating safe spaces were it will be difficult for abuse to happen and when abuse does happen we must coordinate an effective response,” he said.
Also speaking, the First Lady of Ondo State, Mrs. Betty Akeredolu, stressed the need to work in support of those violated.
According to her, “We cannot afford to fold our hands and watch our children being defiled and murdered in some cases, adding that we have to make sure we galvanise action in our respective state so that we can end the violence against women.”
“In our community gender based violence is treated with levity due to our patriarchal system no one takes a woman serious, we need to sensitise our women in the community and the education of the girl child cannot be overemphasised,” she said.
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