How to tackle the growing pandemic of rape

SEXUAL violence has become a national emergency and proactive laws with harsh punishment needs to be put in place to ensure this menace is brought to a minimal state.

Different countries around the world have starkly different laws towards sexual assault, Alabama in the USA is the latest state to use drugs to try to reduce recidivism among sex offenders. Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama has signed a chemical castration measure into law. The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, signed a decree authorising chemical castration for convicted child sex offenders and requiring those released on parole to wear electronic monitoring devices. India prescribes life imprisonment to death sentence, Saudi Arabia, beheading within days.In North Korea it is Death by firing squad for sex offenders while USA prescribes Imprisonment for life and Germany castration.

Unfortunately, according to statistics, only two per cent of rape cases in Nigeria receive judicial intervention. This means that 98 per cent of rapists go free.

There is no doubt that the cases of rape and defilement are on the increase in Nigeria, and it calls for a national emergency. There are reports of lack of cooperation by the police in handling such cases which are reported on a daily basis by the victims and NGOs. Over the past weeks rape cases seem to be growing at an alarming rate and the National Assembly has been called upon to take decisive steps that will enable victims have a wider range of opportunities for redress.

Recommendations/suggested reforms and Ideas to curb the rape menace are:

I will start by stating that our police institution is not adequately equipped in both human and material resources to effectively investigate rape cases. Below are suggested reforms to curb rape in our society:

  1. A unit for support services and counseling for victims of family violence, rape, sex assault and other forms of gender-based violence should be created in NAPTIP and the police. There is a need for the police and NAPTIP to work with NGOs and civil society organisations that are fighting and handling cases on a daily basis, especially when cases are being compromised. A special committee has to be set up urgently in the National Assembly to oversee and document these cases and assist the victims to seek for redress.
  2. An urgent need for domestication of CEDAW, especially recommendation 19 which deals with sexual violence.

Despite the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the covenant is yet to have force of law in Nigeria due to its non-domestication by the National Assembly. The articulation of women’s right framework came into being in 1979 with the International Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The provisions of the CEDAW are observed by the countries that have signed and agreed to be bound by it. However, Nigeria belongs to the dualist states that require an incorporation of the treaty provisions into the body of our national laws. Until this is done, the Convention remains binding but cannot be adjudicated upon at judicial level. Nigeria has not paid adequate attention to the domestication of CEDAW and other international and regional instruments that promote women’s rights and protection against sexual abuse and violence.

Barrister  Ebubedike writes from  Mary & Jane Stephen & Associates, Abuja.



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