Rape: Stakeholders seek stricter laws, compensation for victims – NAN survey

ABUJA – Stakeholders in the North West have expressed concern over rising cases of rape in the country and called for stricter laws, compensation, parental control and support for rape victims.

The stakeholders, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in survey covering Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Katsina and Kebbi states, called on governments and community leaders to rid communities of illicit drugs and increasing cases of rape.

They told NAN that communities must protect and support rape victims instead of stigmatising them to encourage those sexually abused to speak out and demand for justice.

They are of the view that rapists were mentally deranged persons, unstable people requiring therapy and psycho-analysis.

Mr Magaji Liman, a Katsina based legal practitioner attributed rampant cases of rape to high drug abuse, peer group pressure and ritual activities.

According to him, most victims do not want to speak out due to fear of stigmatisation.

Mr Abdullahi Tanko, a father, identified lack of parental care as the major cause of rape in the society, adding that parents were failing in the proper training of their children.

Tanko said that such children ended up becoming victims of rape whenever they embark on street hawking.

Dr Abdul Garba of the Department of Education, Federal College of Education, Katsina, believed that those engaged in rape have psychological problems acquired through taking hard drugs.

“Nobody in his right senses will rape a minor, unless he is under drug influence or has inherited mental problems from his family.

‘’In my opinion, idleness and unemployment have been forcing the youth to engage in high risk behaviours,’’ he said.

Dr Sufyanu Musa of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University Katsina, said people raping minors were manifesting signs of social problems and an indication that the moral decadence in the society was at its peak.

He said that the Nigerian society required moral re-orientation.

‘’At present, in most societies, the youths are behaving like they have no moral values, which is making the society vulnerable to attacks,’’ he said.

On his part, the Katsina State Director of History and Cultural Bureau, Dr Bashir Sarkin-Aska and other stakeholders, said that the problem of rape was an indication that Nigerians were losing their cultural and traditional values.

‘’Our youths are currently interested in borrowed culture and traditions of foreigners, which they usually see in films; many youths learned the trick of raping their victims through watching foreign films, and that have been affecting our culture,’’ they said.

In Sokoto, Hajiya Aisha Bawa, Convener of Women Networking and Development Initiative, said victims of rape were not only young girls and minors but include cases of some married women.

She said that security agencies needed to do more by prosecuting rape offenders, adding that rape victims should be protected because of how the society views them.

According to her, the law that recommends life imprisonment without option of fine should be enforced in all the states to serve as a deterrent.

“We need to stand up and condemn any act of sexual assault on women.

“It seems clear that rape is directly associated with a need for power, chauvinism, sexual repression, hatred towards women, and perverse curiosity about violence,’’ she said.

She challenged the media to focus on the trauma sex victims go through, so as to challenge the society and draw empathy on victims instead of stigmatising them.

The Commissioner of Police in Sokoto State, Mr Murtala Mani said that the police had increased public awareness campaigns and community surveillance to educate the public on the consequences of rape.

From Kano State, the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), said there was need for massive mobilisation of religious leaders to embark on aggressive preaching against rape and associated crimes.

Amina Umar, spokesperson of the group in the state, told NAN that the measure was necessary in order to check the disturbing ugly trend in the society.

She said that the government must involve religious and community leaders in the fight against the menace which is increasing daily.

Umar believed that the increasing rate of rape in the country was “due to illiteracy, poverty, diabolism and negligence by some parents.”

She said that many parents had failed to cater for the needs of their young daughters who mostly ended up being abused for pittance.

The spokesperson also noted that the courts were not giving top priority to rape cases, saying that the delay in accessing justice discourages victims from reporting and the mode of investigation encourages stigmatisation of victims.

According to her, the essence of punishment is to reform the defaulters and deter others from committing the same offence.

She expressed optimism that the administration of the Criminal Justice Act would provide more severe punishment to the criminals.

She appealed to the government to ensure that it provideed relief materials and compensation to the victims, including scholarship.

Some parents whose children were raped accepted being negligent.

Malama Maryam Isyaku, a mother of an 11-year-old girl, who was abused by a 40-year-old man on her way to Islamic school, admitted to her negligence.

“I shouldn’t have allowed her to go to school alone despite many cases of rape I have heard of. So, I blame myself for what happened to my daughter,’’ she said.

Another victim’s father, Malam Umar Babangida said men prefer to hide the issues of their children, who were victims of rape to protect them against stigmatisation.

He explained that when his daughter was raped two years ago, he concealed the issue until the same culprit raped another girl in the neighbourhood.

Babangida, however, noted that the delay in accessing justice exposes rape victims and make them vulnerable for stigmatisation.

In Kebbi, the state office of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) said there should be tougher sanctions against rapists and other forms of violence against women in the country.

The state Chairman of the council, Hajiya Balkisu Danga, told NAN in Birnin Kebbi that the rising cases of rape was largely due to absence of tougher penalties to the perpetrators.

She stressed that the body would not relent in its effort towards ensuring that the bill seeking the protection of women before the National Assembly was passed.

“We would also work hard to ensure all cases of rape brought to the notice of the body are referred to Women’s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) for the protection of the victim and secure justice.’’

Also, FIDA Secretary in the state, Kudirat Shuaibu, said rape cases had remained high and was destroying the fabric of the society.

Shuaibu said it was important for all state governments to domesticate the Child Rights Act, to enable the rape victims’ access justice in court.

An Islamic scholar, Malam Ustaz Abdulrahim blamed indecent dressing and pornographic materials as the major causes of rape in the state.

“Some men and women are involved in the act for ritual purposes; courts needed to do more by applying stricter punishment on rapists.

“That is why Islam commands stoning for a man who is married, and 100 lashes for a man who has never married.

“This will definitely curb the menace of rape cases if the law is fully applied,” he said.

The District Head of Badariya, Birnin Kebbi Local Government, Alhaji Muhammad Abdullahi, blamed parents for allowing their children to hawk at the expense of acquiring education.

A Kaduna based lawyer, Mr Jairus Amos attributed the rampant cases of rape to new norms that allow too much closeness among the opposite sex, provocative dressing, intoxication and peer pressure influence.

Amos called for the strengthening of existing laws to protect victims’ privacy and stiffer punishment for rapists, to serve as deterrent.

“Adequate punishment for the culprits will suffice, and privacy should be uppermost when handling the victims, who should be made to undergo counselling.”

Angela Victor, who was once raped, said victims don’t open up because of fear of not being believed.

“Victims are often scared that their experience would be dismissed or trivialised to a level that the incident wasn’t serious enough to tell anyone,’’she added.

Ruth Ishaya, another victim, said “fear of retaliation from the perpetrator and the belief that nothing would be done about it often made victims to move on.

“There is also the initial confusion on what to do, shock and self blame.’’

Mrs Adams Joyce, a mother, expressed dismay that the society often shift blame on the woman, adding “the impact now is that the ladies are seen as the architect of their problem.’’

Also, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, Kaduna State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, attributed rape of babies to cultism, insisting that there was no rational explanation for such behaviour.

Baba disagreed with the notion that the manner of dressing attracts rapists, saying that was mere excuses.

“What kind of dressing will a 2-year or 3-year old girl put on to entice a 70 or 60 year old man?

“Religious and traditional leaders have enormous responsibilities in the community and we have been pleading with them that during sermons they should be including this issue to enlighten the general public on the menace.

“The Emir of Zazzau, Dr Shehu Idris has been very active on the issue of rape and we have had meetings in his palace with all traditional leaders and the role they need to play as community leaders to ensure that we curb this menace of rape,‘’ she said.

Also, Khadija Sa’ad, President Babbarmace Counselling Services Kaduna, said the courts should accelerate rape cases to ensure justice, while victims were offered medical support to overcome the trauma. (NAN)

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