Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
A foundation based in Nigeria and the United States of America, Bayo Arowolaju Foundation (BAF), has condemned the menace of sexual assaults in Nigeria, saying such crimes are creating a bad image for Nigerians in the diaspora.
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Bayo Arowolaju, who made this known in a statement on Saturday, called for stiffer penalties, including capital punishment and life sentences for offenders.
Arowolaju called for the arrest and prosecution of those behind the rape and murder of Vera Uwalla Omozewa, a 22-year-old student of the University of Benin and Barakat Bello, a 19-year-old student of the Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training, Ibadan.
The statement said:
‘A sane society must not tolerate a crime of rape and called for all perpetrators to be made accountable for their heinous crimes without further delay.
‘In some Arab world like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Malaysia and others, rape carries the death penalty or life jail, this should be replicated in Nigeria. Sending rapists to two or three years sentence not forceful enough.’
Arowolaju said the recent lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic has increased violence against women across the world, expressing worries that ‘there may be many victims out there who may have been raped but are afraid to speak up and continue to suffer in pains and agonies.’
According to him, acts of rape and sexual assaults against anyone is ungodly, querying why prominent Christian and Muslim leaders have not come out strongly and publicly to speak against the animalistic tendencies.
Arowolaju, a healthcare professional, worries that ‘the traumatic and humiliation of sexual assault and rape can have a lifelong negative effect on a victim’s mental, physical and emotional health or even death like in the case of Uwalla.
‘Evidence-based research shows that survivors of sexual assaults and rape usually experience increased depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including severe anxieties, nightmares/sleep disorders, suicidal thoughts or attempts and societal stigma.
‘Government must look for ways to give succour to survivors to cushion the effect of the trauma on them. They must not be allowed to die in silence and commit suicide.’
The foundation called on the states and the Federal Governments to enforce the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act of 2015, which prohibits all forms of violence against persons in private and public lives and provides maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.
The organisation also encouraged anyone experiencing a threat or being a victim of rape to speak up and report the act to the police and other authorities.