Our hearts are heavy once more, not over the ever increasing number of Covid 19 cases nor its attendant deaths. But our hearts are heavy because once more we are forced to witness another brutality, depravity and man’s inhumanity to man.
The rape of a 12 year old girl by 11 men, one of whom was 57 year old man, in Jigawa state and another rape of a 22 year old female student, Vera Omozuwa, by four men who gruesomely murdered her, in a church at Benin Edo state, indeed bleed the heart. There is no excuse for rape, more so, the rape of children, young adult or even the aged. An act so inhumane must not only be popularly condemned but seen to be severely punished and the victim served appropriate justice.
In very recent times, the number of rape cases in Nigeria, especially against children and minor by strangers, fathers, neighbours, uncles and subsequent brutality or murder of their victims, have generated wild uproar, and rightly so, on social media and in the civil society space. So much that the legislatures have been forced to consider the review of the sexual offences Act of 2015, in other to adequately define the offense and ascribe appropriate sanctions with deterrent effect. The bill merely went beyond first reading even as young children, especially girls, continued to face sexual molestation, violations, mutilation and death by strangers and family members.
The society has become acutely unsafe for children and worse off for the female gender, who not only battle hardship, displacement or child marriage, but are forced to tolerate sexual cruelty and degradation. The Nigerian government must take responsibility for the upsurge of this crime for failing to provide the necessary security, enforcing the law and rightly punishing offenders .
We are therefore calling on all the arms of the Nigerian government; the executive, legislature and judiciary to not only declare a national emergency on rape and sexual violence but to consider the ultimate or capital punishment for the crime. Rape is a crime against humanity which destroys the essence of its victim. It completely alters its victim’s life; impacting it negatively and traumatizing the victims for the rest of their lives. Our society should have no place for the perpetrators of this heinous act. Hence, the legislature must set the right pace by speedily and adequately reviewing the sexual offences Act, 2015 and passing the amendment, to provide the right legal framework for eradicating this menace.
We commend Nigerians for their unanimous front and protest against this crime on both online and offline platforms. We will like to remind us that many more children and girls are secretly being sexually violated, especially by family members, which pose an equal danger to the survivor and mental health of our young girls in the society. We need to break this conspiracy of silence and insist on the right punishment for the crime if we must move forward against this crime in our society.
While we commiserate with the families of Omozuwa and the 12 year old girl, we encourage the law enforcement agencies to deploy their assets to ensure that justice is rightly served to these victims. We enjoin our security operatives to up their game in preventing crime and safe guarding lives and properties. We also call on the legislature to adequately amend the bill on sexual offenses to ensure that punishment rightly fits the crime of rape and other sexual crimes. Finally, we urge the judiciary to enable swift prosecution and deliver right judgement in the interest of justice.
May God grant eternal rest to Ms Vera Omozuwa and all who lost their lives and innocence to sexual violence and rape!
Co convener, Say No Campaign