Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin-Kebbi
A coalition of Human Rights groups has decried unreported cases of rape in Kebbi State, revealing that perpetrators are being shielded from justice by the families of victims.
The groups comprise of Kungiyar Tallafin Mata Development Initiative (KTMDI), NANA Girl and Women- Empowerment Initiative, and the Association of Women Living With HIV/AIDS (ASWHAN). They made their positions known yesterday at a press conference at the NUJ Secretariat, Birnin Kebbi.
Zarau Ahmad, the leader of the coalition, said that there were pockets of cases unreported or still pending at various courts in the state.
‘Here in Kebbi, we have pockets of cases, either unreported or at various stages in courts. This is the issue down here in northern Nigeria with cultural taboos on intimate partner relationship where perpetrators are being shielded from justice by the families of the victims because of the family relationship with the perpetrators,’ she said.
Ahmad, who condemned the murder of Vera Uwaila Omozuwe and Barakat Bello who were reportedly raped and killed in Benin City and Ibadan, respectively, said it was high time that all the stakeholders put an end to the violence against women and gender-related violations.
‘Security agencies should also consider ways to improve response to the challenge. It was suggested during our webinar yesterday that a special police gender help desk be set up in all police stations to encourage a speciality in handling gender-related cases.
‘We want to promote this innovation so that adequate responses can be achieved. We need a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach and strengthening of institutions as well as accelerated implementation of laws, policies and programmes to support awareness and decisive actions.’
Ahmad also sought the support of traditional rulers and religious institutions in promoting positive ideals, moral values, whilst stressing that the ‘school system must promote and ensure zero tolerance to child molestation and violence against children in schools.’
The human rights coalition commended the Kebbi State House of Assembly for expressing their readiness to receive from the state executive bills designed to protect the girl child from violence and abuse.
‘The Honourable Commissioner of Justice and State Attorney General has confirmed to us that in a matter of days to come, the executive shall send the bill to the Assembly for the protection of women and children welfare and rights accordingly.’
The women commended Dr Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu, the wife of Kebbi State Governor, for being a pillar of help for the campaign against rape, highlighting that the Kebbi first lady’s dedication to the cause has started to bear fruit.