The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said it is time to declare a state of emergency on rape and other forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) saying that “these are criminal offences that have a devastating effect on both the survivors and the society at large.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq who made this call in Abuja in a joint press conference with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person (NAPTIP) observed that it is high time a more stringent national action is taken to ensure that members of the public take cases of rape and other SGBV with the seriousness they deserve.
In this connection, the Executive Secretary disclosed that the Commission in partnership with NAPTIP is organising a 5-days of ACTIVISM with the theme EQUALITY and DIGNITY for Nigerian Women which will take place across the states of the federation, beginning with a walk in Abuja from June 16 to conscientize and sensitize the public on the dangers of rape and other SGBV, as well as the steps to take to address them.
“At the headquarters in Abuja, the Commission, with its partners and other stakeholders will visit the National Assembly, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Ministry of Women Affairs, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, the Inspector General of Police, the Ministry of Information, the Media Houses and other relevant stakeholders on a wake-up call to join the fight against rape and SGBV”, the Executive Secretary stated.
Ojukwu also called for the domestication of Violence Against Persons Prohibition law in all the states of the federation pointing out that recent happenings concernng rape and other related human rights violations have further necessitated the need to have the various State Assemblies domesticate the VAPP law to effectively tackle these atrocious human rights violations.
Similarly, the Chief Human Rights Officer in Nigeria called on all stakeholders such as the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, traditional and religious gate keepers, political opinion leaders, wives of governors, etc to live up to their responsibilities by putting in place enabling environment for the protection of the dignity of lives of women and girls in Nigeria.
He also advocated for the strengthening of institutions such as the Police, NAPTIP, NHRC and the Judiciary tasked with the provision of the legal and other support services to survivors as well as ensure an accelerated disposal of cases on rape and SGBV.
In her statement, the Director General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli called for harmonization of all laws against rape and voices to ensure that the punishment against rape is life imprisonment as prescribed by VAPP Act 2015.
She also urged the members of the public to desist from treating rape, spousal battery, sodomy and other aberrative behaviours as family matters, but to rather treat them as crimes against the state, “which they are”.