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Group urges Rivers government to declare war on rape

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Concerned about rising cases of sexual violence in Rivers State, Social Action has urged government to declare war against rape and act swiftly to rid the society of the menace.

The civil society group, in a report yesterday, said it had, in recent times, been inundated with reports from residents about rape incidents in their neighbourhoods.

Working with the Civil Rights Council (CRC) in monitoring human rights violations in the state, the group claimed that over 40 cases of alleged sexual abuse had been reported since May 2020. It cited the recent rape of a nine-year-old girl by her 30-year-old neighbour at Ikwerre on June 13, and 10-year-old girl reportedly raped in Diobu, Port Harcourt, by her neighbour on May 22.

“In both isolated cases, as well as in many other reported cases, it was learnt that the alleged rapists were well-known to the victims, hence the families attempted to cover up the matter with silence,” it noted.

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According to the group, although the above trend does not apply in all cases, 80 per cent of rape cases reported within the period under review reveal that the culture of silence enables the perpetrator, a well-known person to the victim, to escape justice with the tacit support of the victim’s family.

It urged the state government to take a very bold step against rape by setting up specialist rape clinics in all the councils, where victims could access professional counselling.

This counselling, it stressed, is needed to enable the victim recover from the psychological feelings of shame, fear and depression, and to encourage the victim to cooperate fully with the police and the prosecution team throughout the investigation and trial of the case, until justice is served.

“The support of the state government is also needed in the aspect of funding the case from the point when a victim reports the crime at the police station”.

The government should foot all bills involved, such as the cost of medical attention, including tests on the victim to ascertain rape, the cost of investigation and litigation.

“Police officers should be trained on the sensitive nature and gravity of rape cases. They should be serious about investigating allegations of rape when they are made, and be very supportive of the victims,” it said.

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