WARIF boss, others denounce sexual abuse of under-aged girls
As part of efforts to educate the society on the detriments of rape and child abuse in Nigeria, Dr. Kemi Dasilva Ibru, the founder of Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF), recently tackled the issue of rape and sexual violence among women, non-consenting children and adolescents at a seminar organised by the Nigeria Red Cross Society, Lagos branch, in partnership with Love Promotions in Lagos.
The seminar, which was organised as part of activities marking the International Day of the Girl-Child, was titled: Before Another Rapist Strikes, and this was aided with a thematic preoccupation of collective responsibility of the society to protect the girl-child’s right.
Special guest speakers and students interpreted the importance of a serene society, free of rape and molestation, through the recitations of poems and debates.
Dr. Ibru said that WARIF is a rape crisis centre established to equip and prepare young girls and women in the community, who have sadly undergone rape and sexual violence by implementing initiatives that help the survivors at the WARIF Centre in Yaba.
She explained that we all have a role to play by shunning gender-based violence and inequality in our homes, as that translates to inequality in our community.
She said statistics have confirmed that one in every four girls in Nigeria have had at least one sexual encounter in violence, and the WARIF has carried out research study in high schools, amongst girls between the ages of 13 and 16, that affirms the number of girls plighted with sexual abuse, while one in three further said that the perpetrators were family members.
“I have sadly seen children, young girls and women, attacked and abused in our community from ages 2 to 79. “We can spend all day blaming the girls and other attributing factors, but the most important thing for us to acknowledge today is that, “rape is wrong,” to acknowledge that “No means No”, that a woman who is not of consenting age (18) in our country, should not under any means of duress be forced into any act that she is not willing to participate in.
“Rape is wrong under whatever circumstance or influence, and it is a crime. It is our collective responsibility as adults to believe the victims of rape and report the crime.
“You can never say there is something a girl-child under the age of 18 could do to avoid rape as she is a minor and any act perpetrated against her, whether or not she is a willing participant, it is considered a crime” she said.
Another guest speaker, Dr. T.G Ijarogbe, an Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, said rape is a sexual assault and it is unlawful. Stating the content of rape as non-consenting, under-age consent (invalid consent), emancipated adult with under-aged girl and low-mental capacity (intellectual disability). She advised parents to educate their children about sex and explain the changes in their body and feelings towards the opposite sex.
Also, Mandy Asagba from the African Women Lawyer Association, Nigeria (AWLA), told the media that there must be a proper sensitisation of the public to understand the implication of sexual assault and Nigerians should shun the victimisation of the victimised.