Rape: Lawmaker tender public apology to Nigerian women over unguarded comment
• Support capital punishment for rapists, urges men to protect, preserve pride of women
Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Insurance & Actuarial, Hon Ahmadu Jaha, on Saturday, tendered a public apology to Nigerians for making an unguarded statement against women during the debate on a motion on a matter of urgent public importance on rape on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Hon Jaha, member representing Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency of Borno State, who spoke during a press briefing in Abuja, affirmed that he “made a mistake that has offended the sensibilities of fellow Nigerians and indeed, fellow human beings, particularly women who are our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters.”
While reaffirming his position that “persons who commit acts of rape should be met with the highest punishment on earth, which is death and domestication of relevant laws such as Violence against Persons and Prohibition Act (VAPP) and other relevant laws against gender-based violence in the country,” Hon Jaha argued that there is no justification for raping a woman despite of her choice of dressing.
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“Unfortunately, I sincerely added another caution, saying, that women should cultivate the habit of proper and decent dressing to avoid unnecessary harassment from men who may not control themselves. While I totally reaffirm my position that rapists should face death sentences, I regret the part that talks about the dressing of women- I deeply apologise for this position because as some have rightly argued, my added comment, could imply that women who are victims, share the blame of being raped. This clearly, could not have been the intention of someone who suggested death penalty for rapists.
“The fact is that a woman’s choice of dressing cannot justify rape and here is another practical example I have seen myself. The whole of last night, I made many recollections. I remembered that I do travel in buses and l have done this for many years. I have travelled by commercial buses from Maiduguri to Lagos and to other parts of this country. I have seen many instances in which the bus I am in stops on the way either for food, refuelling or more often, for passengers to answer the call of nature.
“Many times, we men freely ease ourselves. Many use the roadside on highways. I have also noticed and this has been for long, that when male passengers ease themselves on highways, female passengers make efforts to turn their faces or bow down.
“So, last night, I asked myself a question. If women refuse to be attracted to more revealing men who use the highways, why should any man force himself on a lady to exercise the right to choose what she wears? There is simply no justification. With women showing discipline, men must show more.
“As a man that has been happily married for more than 16 years and blessed with five children, including a daughter, I know that it is a divine responsibility for every good man to protect and preserve the pride of a woman. This is because women have less strength which accounts for the irresponsible ways they are raped by evil men.
“I am more than a million per cent against rape and I am more so, because I have a daughter and I cannot imagine how parents feel when their daughters fall to the evil of rapists. As a public servant, from my days at the Borno State House of Assembly to my days as Commissioner for Higher Education, I have been known as someone who respects women and tries to support and empower them. As a public servant, I am normally confident with women when they set their minds to deliver tasks.
“As a politician, I tend to be relaxed when a woman promises me her vote. Most women stick to their guns. Most women are born with natural strength of endurance. That is why they are able to go through childbirth, to nurture families, take care of relations and still able to earn decent livelihoods. Women do things with completeness. I admire this so much because I have benefited from the sincerity and commitment of women. I hold women with the highest respect, with great pride and with so much love that is pure and responsible.
“To my colleagues in the House of Representatives, who may have been disappointed by my comment, especially female lawmakers and my entire constituents, I say to you, that I am deeply sorry. I apologise to all women folks and to all responsible men that should be pained when women are touched, I apologise to all of you. May God bless our womenfolk, bless responsible women who care for women and bless our country, Nigeria,” Hon Jaha stated.