From Melvin Uche, Maiduguri
Justice Aisha Ndume has revealed that rape cases constitute 90 percent of criminal cases handled by various courts in Borno state in the last two years.
Justice Ndume made the revelation on Tuesday at a 2-day workshop for legal actors on Strengthening Women’s Access To Justice with the theme: “Making Rights A Reality For Conflict Affected Women In Borno and Yobe States”, hosted by the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), in conjunction with Government of Netherlands and UN Women in Maiduguri.
She however expressed the view that emphasising more preventive measures than punitive measures will cushion some of the issues of gender-based violence being experienced in the society.
She also called for public enlightenment and awareness campaign on issues of gender-based violence, adding that traditional and community leaders should champion the course.
“In some communities, we have 13 year-old girls taking up rooms as prostitutes, while the public watch,” Ndume said.
She that said due to lack of awareness and cultural issues, some young boys and even men don’t know that it is an offence to have sex with under-age girls.
Justice Ndume said notwithstanding that medical report is one of the vital instruments of prosecuting rape cases, some medical doctors don’t know how to obtain medical report on rape cases and called for their inclusion in workshops of that magnitude.
Corroborating Justice Ndume, a Maiduguri-based legal practitioner, Barr. Shettima Mustapha, said rape cases in courts in Borno is increasing in number.
Barr. Mustapha expressed the need for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and relevant bodies to stand in solidarity to ensure that not only are the vulnerable protected, but that relevant laws that have not been domesticated received the blessings of lawmakers.
In her remarks, the Executive Secretary, WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, disclosed that statistics from the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA ), showed that over 39 rape cases were recorded in Borno state within two months of the COVID-19 lockdown.
She said the WARDC project had engaged the parliament and state governments on the need to have the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law, noting that as it is today, the law is now at the second reading stage, while WARDC would work to ensure that the law is passed because of its benefits to the society.
She said:” Most of the cases of sexual and gender based violence go unreported in places like Borno and Yobe states because the culture of reporting is not integrated yet to the communities. So the project is to ensure more reporting of SBGV.