Groups task FG, lament assault of women by law enforcement officers
Five-Year-Olds Forced To Work In Brothels, Paid N200 Daily
Several concerned stakeholders, Network on Police Reform In Nigeria (NOPRIN), OSIWA and Project Alert have noted with despair the continuous assault, rape, molestation and unwarranted arrests of women by law enforcement officials, calling government at all levels to urgently look into the situation.
They made their position known on the first day of this year’s 16 Days of Activism, which coincidentally was the International Day to End Violence Against Women. The theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism is “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape.”National Coordinator of NOPRIN, Emmanuel Ikule, recounted that in April, officers of the Utako Police Division, Abuja arrested and allegedly raped 70 women, claiming they were prostitutes. “These women were arrested at various hangouts and nightclubs and tagged “prostitutes” by the police. While in detention, it was alleged that some of the women whom the police couldn’t extort money from, were raped.
“In yet another case, a policeman raped the nine-year-old daughter of a police woman in Makinde Barracks in Lagos. The policeman, Mohammed Alidu, overpowered the girl and raped her. Also this year, soldiers along Akure-Ikare Akoko Road raped a female student of Adekunle Ajasin University. The soldiers who were deployed to deal with the incessant cases of kidnapping left their assignment and ended up committing sexual crimes.”
Ikule decried that these and many more are the disturbing trends of sexual assault perpetuated against women and girls at the hands of the police and other security forces, saying the failure of the criminal justice system in bringing them to book makes the situation worse. Nsini Udonta of Project Alert and Ikule urged the IGP, Chief of Defence Staff and the government to curb these atrocities being committed by their officers, adding that they’re supposed to protect and not abuse women and girls.
Phil Nneji of the International Federation Of Women Lawyers (FIDA) said they stand against rape and other forms of sexual violence. “We’ve been engaging in legislative advocacy and speaking out in this direction. All of us must see how we can put in place services that can help survivors; our responses must be survivor-friendly and based. We’re pleased with the VAPP law that Lagos has adopted and we’re pleased more people are lending their voices to this cause.
“FIDA has always been in the forefront of fighting for women and girls that suffer violence of any kind and we’re ready to do more. We have many cases in court presently, a lot of them are very disheartening but we’re not discouraged despite the many obstacles we face. We must break the culture of silence around rape and remove stigmatization of survivors.”
Patience Ikpe Obaulo, Head of Program for the West African Network for Peace Building Nigeria (WANEP) said rape of young girls and women was becoming too rampant and needs to be checked immediately. “Any day you open social media or pages of newspapers, you’re inundated with reports of abuse of women and girls. We recently carried out a research in the Northeast where soldiers are stationed in troubled areas and the results saddened us beyond belief. Girls as young as five are being forced to work in brothels for as little as N200 daily just so they can eat.
These stories don’t make way to the mainstream media. We mustn’t fold our arms and watch this horror continue, these crimes are not committed by civilians alone. We’re starting radio advocacy across different radio stations and visiting schools to teach children because it’s never too early to start them off and we need to teach men from young that some acts are unacceptable.”
Udonta lauded the sex offender register that was launched in Abuja on Monday, saying abusers would be inducted, named and shamed. She pleaded with the media to always protect identities and names of survivors to ensure other people are bold enough to come forward. “It’s sad that the police that’s supposed to offer succour to survivors have become the perpetrators now. We have to fish out the bad eggs among the police and other security agencies to protect our women and girls. We must sensitise people of the deceit of law enforcement officials and teach them to gather evidence. Beyond naming these rapists, there has to be evidence incriminating them as it’s difficult to prove rape without any evidence,” she said.