Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
No fewer than two million women are raped annually in Nigeria, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen, disclosed yesterday.
She made the revelation during the launch of a sex offenders’ register as part of event to commemorate the 2019 international day for elimination of violence against women, yesterday.
She condemned the rising cases of sexual related offences in schools, corporate organisations and faith-based organisations, insisting that there was no justification for rape or any form of sexual abuse.
“Eliminating sexual violence is the responsibility of all citizens, and we must identify our true allies in this journey so we could collectively fight it.
“We have to intensify efforts, strengthen existing partnership, forge new strategic alliance and also build sustainable pathway for socio-economic empowerment and growth.”
Deputy Secretary General, United Nations (UN), Amina Mohammed, confirmed that increasing rate of violence against women have caused huge economic and psychological losses to individuals and economy at large.
“The UN is committed to supporting Nigeria and other countries of the world to safeguard the rights of women and girls from violence.”
She explained that EU/UN spotlight initiative was recently rolled out globally, primarily to champion a cause to end gender based violence against women.
In apparent reaction to the suggestion of Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli, that any name found in the sex offenders’ register should be denied several opportunities, an official of Nigeria’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), Juliana Joseph, confirmed that convicted rapists named in the sex offenders register (SOR) will find it impossible to get jobs outside Nigeria or travel abroad,.
Ms Joseph who manages the SARC in Kaduna State also said the register contains names of alleged sexual offenders once investigation suggests possible cases of rape involving the accused persons.
“The SOR will be kept in Nigeria where the names of people who have been alleged to be perpetrators of sexual offences or those that have been convicted of rape will be written on it, in separate places.
“Employers of labour go there to find out if the name of the proposed employee is in the register. It is supposed to be a naming and shaming register.
“People will see that once their names are on the register, even leaving the country becomes difficult. Other countries will always search for the names on the register. Once your name is there, you will not be able to go to school or travel freely abroad. Once your name goes in there, you are finished for life,” Ms Joseph said.
She added that the register, which is domiciled with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), will have its details on a website where people all over the world could reach it.
Ms Joseph said the register is being made possible with support from partners in various agencies across the country, namely; the SSS, police, correctional centres, as well as all the people working on sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria and beyond.
On its sustainability, Ms Joseph said the actors responsible for checking Nigeria’s Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) were already partners in the register.
Meanwhile, the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, Abuja chapter, has called on victims of rape to break the silence and speak up.
Chairperson of FIDA, Abuja, Rekia Adejo-Andrew, made the call during awareness walk to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Abuja.
Adejo-Andrew said recent reports from FIDA branches showed increase in cases of violence across the country, ranging from domestic violence, forceful ejection from home, maltreatment of widows, sexual harassment, coercive use of contraceptives, forced abortion, trafficking in women and forced prostitution.
She added that emphasis on this year’s advocacy campaign focused on rape, noting that the scourge of rape had doubled “and it is a great cause for concern for both men and women of good conscience in the country.
“As part of activities to commemorate the 16 days, we intend to meet with commissioner of police to help talk to his men, so that when cases of rape
come before them, they would not compromise, rather, they should ensure cases are thoroughly investigated.
“We also intend to visit faith-based organisations, markets and motor parks to create awareness on violence.”
She said cases of rape should not be taken for granted as the victims suffer life time trauma.
She announced that “only 11 states out of the 36 states of the federation adopted the Violence Against Persons (prohibition) Act (VAPP) Act of 2015; we are calling on the remaining 25 states to push and adopt this law in their states.”
However, in a bold move, Nollywoods screen top shot, Elvin Ibru, has said she would love to meet her 2004 rapist, expressing confidence of seeing the armed robbers again.
She said that having experienced the ugly incident, there was a need for others to take a cue from what she had been through which suggested her advocacy group.
“I was raped by an armed robber in 2004, it wasn’t my fault and not an incident that warrants me taking up microphone about, so I set up an advocacy group to address it. The group is to manage the young and old ones who had been through the same ugly incident like me. I know if I had to go all out to media about the situation, it will fizzle out.
“However, it is not something I have been silent about; I don’t know the person that raped me, but I will meet him again, I know I will meet him,” she said.