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Labour, legislators move to end rape, gender restrictions

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• Seek stiffer penalties for offenders
In efforts to nip in the bud cases of rape and other forms of gender-based violence, Women Commission of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), is partnering with Senator Oluremi Tinubu to ensure the Criminal Code Act as amended, is passed into law.

The Criminal Code Act Cap. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (SB.02) was sponsored by Distinguished Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central Senatorial District) on September 24, 2019.
 
The Women Commission said it is also working with the National Assembly and Ministry of Labour and Employment for Nigeria to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention (C) 190 seeking to end violence and harassment in the workplace.
 

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TUC Deputy President, Oyinkan Olasanoye, who disclosed this during a campaign on, “Say no to rape and all forms of gender based violence,” organised by the Women Commission held across the federation, said the group is creating more awareness and working assiduously to ensure the Rape and Domestic Violence Bill becomes law, and ILO C190 is domesticated.
 
Oyinkan, a former chairperson of the TUC Women Commission said: “On the ILO Convention 190, we are working on advocacy and leveraging on the Bill. COVID-19 has delayed the passage of the Act, because we are still working on it. Latest by September or October, we should hear more on it, because all the Women Commission of the labour centres are working together to ensure the Bill comes to limelight.”
 
In her welcome address, National Chairperson, TUC Women Commission, Hafsat Shaibu, whose address was read by the head of the Commission, Lagos State Council, Oluyemisi Oyejide, condemned rape and all forms of gender-based violence.
 
While calling on everyone to join hands to wipe the menace out as anyone could be a victim, she noted that the crimes are majorly perpetrated against women and girls, or a group of persons that are vulnerable because of their gender.
 
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She urged victims to speak out, adding that parents should always have an eye on their wards, and also be their children’s friends, and urged that perpetrators are brought to book by serving on them stiffer penalties, and reintegrating the victims into the society.
 
The Guardian gathered that global statistics on rape cases are tentative, because most cases are never reported. This is even as report has it that rape cases skyrocketed during the lockdown, about 300 per cent increase when compared to previous cases.
   
“It is disheartening to see the perpetrators of these evil acts going about their normal lives, as if they never did anything wrong; leaving the large number of victims and few survivors  in a society where they are stigmatised, called all sorts of names, and above all, faced with an already failed future.
 
“We are calling on each and every Nigerian to join in the efforts to tackle rape and sexual violence by protecting specifically the women and the girl child, ensuring prompt report of cases, seeking justice for the abused and punishing severely the perpetrators. Silence should not be an option in any case,” Shaibu said.
 
Speaker for the event and Co-ordinator, Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, urged parents to change the narrative of raising their children to avoid domestic violence.
 
She said to put a stop to sexual and gender based violence, “we need to do a lot of sensitisation, create awareness and increase offender responsibility by ensuring that people are prosecuted for these offenses, especially on defilement of children.
 
“We need to increase access to information, a lot of people are still unaware about support services, toll lines that are available, and offices they can visit to report such cases.

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“On breaking culture of silence, immediately a sexual assault occurs, the first thing to do is to go to a medical facility to receive medical attention, and when we are able to collect evidence and samples for DNA, we start solving cases using forensic, to avoid cases of he said.” 
   
She talked about the impact of domestic violence on the survivors, how to recognise signs domestic violence, how to reduce child abuse, how to handle sexual abuse and what the law says in handling issues of such among others.
 
As part of the programme, the group staged a peaceful protest to the Lagos State House of Assembly chanting solidarity songs and displaying placards with inscriptions “Women are not sex toys,” “Any gender can be a victim of rape,” “Say no to rape,” “Start raising responsible children,” “No to rape is a collective responsibility,” and “Future mothers deserve protection” among others.

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