NLC tasks NASS to expedite, strengthen penalties for rape

• Says our society tolerates violence against women

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has tasked the National Assembly to expedite legislative action on some of the bills that are aimed at strengthening penalties for rape and increasing the protection of children, girls, women, the aged and other vulnerable persons.

The congress said it is high time the rape epidemic was uprooted in Nigeria, regretting that our society still tolerates abuse and violence against women.

The Congress strongly condemned, what it described as the “the current epidemic of rape, sexual violence and other forms of violence especially against the female gender.”

The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday that the congress was alarmed that our age-long culture of respect for women is being torn into shreds by criminals who believe that the female body is theirs to seize, ravish and devour at will without consequences.

He also called on the National Assembly to quickly domesticate the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) newest Convention – Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment of Workers.

“Furthermore, we call on the police to improve the capacity of its officers to deal with cases of rape. The delay, compromise of evidence and unwillingness to prosecute rape offenders to the fullest extent of the law suggest a society that tolerates abuse and violence against women,” Wabba said.

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He added: “Rape thrives under the shadows of silence. We must disavow the culture of silence on rape cases. We will be judged by how we treat the weak and voiceless. We call on law enforcement agencies and social institutions to rise up to this challenge. It is our collective duty to protect our mothers, daughters, sisters and brothers from the deadly fangs of rapists. If we fail in this onerous duty, then we would have truly failed.”

The NLC president said: “The recent rape and killing of Ms Uwaila Omozuwa, a 22-year old 100 level student of University of Benin, Edo State on Wednesday, May 27th 2020 is a cruel addition to the long list of Nigerian women and girls who have had their body privacy and their lives desecrated and destroyed by rapists.

“It is more horrifying that the perpetrators of this heinous crime no longer have respect for any physical, social and religious boundaries. Ms Uwaila Omozuwa was murdered in a church where she sought refuge in pursuit of learning.

“Many girls and women have been raped and sometimes killed in their parent’s houses, husbands’ homes, workplaces especially house helps, school hostels, in the open field, and in forlorn places. The message rapists are transmitting is that our girls and women are not safe anywhere. What an impetus! Such audacity!

“On April 27, 2020, 18-year old girl Jennifer was gang-raped by five men in Narayi, Kaduna State. As is the norm in these parts, the family was threatened to keep hush over the case but for the intervention of human rights activists in Kaduna who blew the lid on the matter.

“Not long ago, an eleven-year-old girl and a thirteen-year-old girl were gang-raped in Ilorin, Kwara State. As if the life of girls and women are the cheapest commodities in our part of the world, on May 28th 2020, a seventeen-year-old girl, Tina Ezekwe was gruesomely felled by police bullets during supposed enforcement of the lockdown curfew at Iyana Oworo part of Lagos metropolis, at a bus stop near her home.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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