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Experts seek review of Evidence Act to protect rape victims

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To check rising cases of gender violence in the country, experts have urged the Federal Government to review the Evidence Act and other laws to protect children, girls and women.

Quoting from findings by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Spotlight Initiative (SI) and others, the experts said “approximately six out of every 10 children experience some form of violence; half of all children experience physical violence; one in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence; one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence by a parent, caregiver or adult relative.”

They made the submission at a two-day media dialogue on “Ending Violence Against Children, Women and Girls in Cross River and Ebonyi States” held by EU-UN (European Union and United Nations) Spotlight Initiative (SI) and National Orientation Agency (NOA), Ebonyi State, in Enugu.

One of the resource persons, Dr. Chidi Ezinwa, who presented a paper on “Child Right Reporting and Ethical Response from the Media”, called for review of the Evidence Act which he said was outdated and gave room for rapists to escape justice.

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Ezinwa of the Department of Mass Communication, Enugu State University (ESUT) said lawmakers should start making and implementing laws to protect children in Nigeria, arguing that the extant laws were porous to easily make a rapist escape punishment.

“A look at our law as it is now shown that the Evidence Act requires collaboration. Collaboration means that there must be an evidence of another party that witnessed a rape. Does it mean that rape has become a party that when you want to rape someone, you invite people to come and witness it? So, such law should be reviewed.

“We don’t tend to care or have protection for the victims and there is no way people will feel free to come forward and report. We don’t protect victims and family members.”

Another resource person, Mrs. Ijeoma Mike-Ajanwachukwu, in her presentation titled “Violence Against Children (VAC): Experiences, Prevention and Response Services, Challenges and Way Forward-Especially through Media” said violence against children in Nigeria was endemic and pandemic in the world.

Mike-Ajanwachukwu, who is a legal practitioner, said: “We have beautiful laws but implementation is the problem. It is not enough to say castrate or execute rapists, but the implementation. The life sentence on rapists is perfect and they should not be given state pardon.”

She cited many instances of child abuse, lamenting that not much was done to arrest the situation as the Child Rights Act of 2003 has not been domesticated in many states in the country, and consequently, children on daily basis pass through various forms of physical and emotional violence.

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