Rights group to prosecute parents covering sex offenders
A gender rights advocate group, Centre for Justice, Empowerment and Development (C4J), yesterday, disclosed that it will explore the provisions of the Rivers State Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law 2020 and other relevant laws against parents and guardians who try to placate acts by perpetrators of sexual violence against children and under their care.
Head of Communication/Child Rights Officer, Maureen Udeagha, stated that the group would ensure that parents and guardians who try to prevent investigation, arrest, and prosecution of perpetrators who sexually violate children under any guise are prosecuted.
The group made its position clear after a meeting with some members of the Rivers State Response Team on Violence Against Women and Children, and other Civil Society Organisations at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Coalition of Eastern NGOs.
She explained that its position is hinged on the disturbing state at which parents and guardians of raped/defiled children are approaching its office to plead that charges against perpetrators of sexual violence be dropped, and cases discontinued as a result of pressure from family and relatives of perpetrators.
According to Udeagha, the act is demoralising for responders to related distress calls and will not only encourage perpetrators but will also make the funds and energy put together by lawmakers and stakeholders in trying to end gender-based violence in our communities become waste.
Similarly, Chairman, Rivers Indigenous NGO and Civil Society Network (RINGOCS), and a Coordinator of the State Response Team on Violence Against Women and Children, Tombari Dumka-Kote, said the attitude of parents and guardians towards perpetrators of sexual violence has resulted in more children facing abuse and been exposed to sexual violence in the communities.
Although Dumka-Kote blamed the situation on the rising level of poverty in the country following skipping inflation rate and drastic fall in the income and purchasing power of family breadwinners, as well as the rise in the price of foodstuffs and other basic goods and services, noting that it was never an excuse for parents to trade the life and future of their children for a meal ticket.
He said his team is already doing much to ensure that all perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence are arrested and prosecuted.
He warned that they will not hesitate to demand the arrest and prosecution of such parents and guardians should they fail to turn a new leaf.
Dumka-Kote also said the Government at all levels should use the opportunity created by the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ to seek appropriate solutions aimed at boosting the growth of green industries, employment creation, and economic empowerment vulnerable persons to curb the new trend of events, as well as reduce the poverty leveling the country through robust policies.